Innovative Design, Timeless Character

The home of Aubrey and Jeanne Garrison at Greystone Crest tells a story at every turn. 

Written by Jane Reynolds; Photography by Beau Gustafson

Aubrey Garrison, architect and founding principal of LIVE Design Group, and his wife, Jeanne, completed their home at Greystone Crest just 10 years ago, but it contains a lifetime of memories, experiences, and inspirations collected over the years and built into every aspect of the home, inside and out. Favorite childhood haunts, trips they’ve taken together, and special time spent with family…it’s all here, with an inspired visual narrative expressed through painstaking design choices that achieve what many homeowners want but isn’t always possible: a home that fits contemporary life but conveys a sense of timelessness.

“As an architect,” Aubrey says, “I find new design styles can be intriguing, but can be trendy. We wanted to build something more timeless. The initial goal was to think of a refurbished, 400-year-old Italian villa with a very eclectic interior style.”

One of the earliest inspirations—when the Garrisons first chose this property, several years before they even began construction—came from Aubrey’s fond memories of a house his aunt and uncle built in Nashville. Located on a ridge south of town, he loved the view that stretched for miles all around, just as it does here. He also thought of the home he grew up in just outside Crestline Village: “As kids,” he says, “we played on a (nearby) hill, with a rock cliff that we called the Indian Palace. I loved the rocks, and when I saw this lot with all the rock outcrops, we bought it.”

Instead of leveling the hill and cutting into the surrounding rock formations, Aubrey designed the footprint around the terrain they loved, creating a wide, deceptively narrow home that feels grand in scale but leaves ample space outside to enjoy the natural beauty and include a series of outdoor living spaces and artful landscaping at every angle.

The tone is set before visitors ever reach or even glimpse the front door, with what Jeanne calls the “tunnel,” a long pergola leading up to the house, covered in ivy, moss, and creeping fig to create a feeling that is, for lack of a better word, enchanting. “I consider it the true foyer of the house,” Jeanne says. It leads to the front door as well as scenic paths around the house, with small gardens and charming patios everywhere.

The first view inside the house—past the indoor foyer, which features a hand-tiled medallion floor design that replicates one Aubrey saw at the Vatican—is of a great room with a 20-foot, semi-barrel ceiling that stretches across nearly the length of the home. It’s tall enough for Aubrey to have designed a loft reaching directly across the middle that creates a subtle divide between the open living and dining room and a more intimate space that serves as a TV/sitting area and office. The loft itself is Jeanne’s domain, a craft room where she paints, creates flower arrangements, and pursues other artistic endeavors, the fruits of which are found throughout the house—paintings hanging on the wall, and furniture or other elements of design she’s refinished until they perfectly complement a space.

The opportunity and challenge of the great room was to fully enjoy the spectacular views from here through the giant windows while also designing to a scale that’s rare in contemporary architecture. “When we moved our furniture from the old house, everything looked like toy furniture in here,” Jeanne says. “It just would not work.” So she spent a lot of time seeking out larger pieces and making adjustments to others—getting Aubrey to build a new base for a grandfather clock she found in order to make it taller; placing items that otherwise would have stood on the floor on top of large consoles; adding metal medallions up high to draw the eye upwards.

Other parts of the house tell stories of places they’ve been and people they’ve known. A hallway that stretches nearly the length of the house evokes an old-world, sanctuary feeling inspired by the cathedrals they visited on a trip to Italy. A set of light fixtures, found in a small shop in Venice, followed them home from that same trip and now hang in the kitchen. The late Fritz Woehle, a fellow architect and friend of Aubrey’s, had given the couple full access to his eccentric antique collection housed at The Garage Café on Southside, and the Garrisons bought several pieces from him, including a solid-bronze gate from the old terminal station downtown and even an old carousel panel from the Barnum & Bailey Circus that hangs on the wall. Other pieces hit closer to home, such as a cluster of photographs Aubrey took with a micro-lens of flowers from throughout the property.

Even the view itself—accessible from everywhere in the house—tells an ongoing story. Along with leaving the rocky terrain intact, the Garrisons chose to keep all of the trees directly behind the house rather than cutting them down to create a clearer view, because the couple prefers to enjoy both at once. “I like to watch the seasons change,” Aubrey says. “In the wintertime we can see forever.” Jeanne adds that the foliage also softens the sunlight at peak hours, allowing them to forgo drapery and invite the outdoor beauty in.

“Looking out the windows,” Jeanne says, “you experience something unique that changes with each weather condition. Seeing the incredible view or experiencing a storm rolling in is very exciting. It’s like living art.” 



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