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A HEAD START

For an interior designer, most projects generally begin as a blank slate. “Oftentimes, in our work,” says designer Ray Booth, “you go in and find that everything’s got to go.” But what Booth and his team inherited with a whole house renovation near Nashville was a prize example of existing architecture, along with inspiring interiors and excellent materials dressing its well-crafted bones. “This was an unusual project for me, and now one of my favorites, because we started with so many great things in the house.”

Ray Booth is a principal at McAlpine, the much-celebrated architectural and interior design firm headquartered in Montgomery and Nashville, with ancillary offices in New York and Atlanta. Booth had worked previously with homeowners Sissy and Bill Wilson, a couple—with grown children no longer at home—ready to downsize a bit. Upon finding this property in Belle Meade, just fifteen minutes from the bustle and entertainment and cultural offerings of downtown Nashville, the Wilsons enlisted the help and vision of Booth.

The home is essentially an airy, classical Italian villa with high-ceilinged rooms, and it was originally outfitted and decorated in a manner appropriate to its architectural pedigree. “The house had actually been built by a designer friend of mine, Mary Spalding, and her husband Mike, so this was not our typical project,” Booth explains. The Spaldings are collectors and they had furnished the house with superb antique finds, some of which the new owners purchased along with the home. But one of the things the Wilsons were hoping Booth could accomplish was to fashion a home that didn’t feel as though it was filled with antiques. Rather, they wanted something that felt far more current. “Sissy is full of energy and life,” says Booth. “She loves to entertain, and she wanted the house to have a kind of freshness and energy to it.”

 

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INTERIOR DESIGN BY RAY BOOTH

WRITTEN BY EDWARD MCCANN

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PIETER ESTERSOHN

 

This story appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of MILIEU