When he’s not in studio, Ed Nash makes the most of his family time

By Hollie Deese
Photography by William DeShazer

The work of artist Ed Nash graces the walls of some of the toniest homes in Nashville, plus prestigious new builds like the Hilton in Green Hills. But before his art was everywhere, the Letchworth Garden City, England, native was hustling to make his way through art school, selling books door-to-door for what was then Southwestern Company, a direct marketing sales company.

“Then I realized no one was teaching me about business in art school,” he says. So after a couple of years when he finished school he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to learn more about the business side through Southwestern.

A Scotland native, his wife, Nicky, was a student at the University of Aberdeen when Ed recruited her to come to the United States for the summer to sell books door-to-door.

“Then we became good friends the following year, and about a year after that we got together. Several years after that we got married,” she says. “We were on the slow track.”

The first house the couple lived in together was in Antioch. Then they moved to a little apartment on Ordway near the Five Points in East Nashville — just before things really blew up over there.

“We just loved it,” Nicky says. “It was such a fun time because he had basically gotten me here on the promise that we would get a dog. Because we weren’t meant to move here. He was meant to move back to Scotland to be with me.”

Once rescue dog Lucca was in place, though, Scotland got even further from the plan. They quickly made friends, and Ed’s art business began to take off. They moved from their apartment to a home in Inglewood to get more bang for their buck — and got married the same week they closed on the house, hosting more than 50 people from out of the country.

“I would not recommend that to anyone,” she laughs.

But they spent more than 11 years in that home, adding a couple of kids — Raif, 7, and Lylah, 10 — and immersing themselves in the exploding art community around them.

They bought their current home last year — the first house they physically looked at once they began the search. The funny part is that they were only looking at it as a lark, because it wasn’t exactly in their agreed-upon budget.

“I was looking for a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house and they were all the same,” she says.

Then one day she searched for a three bedroom, and the Brentwood stunner on five acres was the first one that popped up, the first day it was on the market. Plus, the 4,700-square-foot home was actually only a two bedroom at the time.

“I texted him the listing, just for fun,” she says. “I had no thought that we would actually buy it. Then we were texting back and forth. ‘Did you see the kitchen? Did you see this?’ And then it was like, ‘Let’s go see it. Just for fun.’”

But, as those things sometimes go, once they saw it they had to have it.

“It’s just our dream house,” she says.

Made for family, friends

It being their dream house didn’t make the move easy on any of them. As a couple, they had built a life and family in East Nashville (Ed’s studio is still there). And as for the kids, their school and friends were about to change.

“It was very hard,” Nicky says of leaving the home they had grown their family in. “I cried a little bit moving from Scotland, but I cried my eyes out on the daily for a long time when we moved from East Nashville.”

Being in the kind of home people gravitate toward, though, has made the transition pretty smooth — especially when the kids are out playing in the pool or running around their ninja course in the secluded yard. Or when they have friends over to enjoy some cold drinks and Tennessee sunsets while Ed presides over the grill.

“Even at our old house, we were always the house that had the baby showers. Now it’s more like the 50th birthday parties,” she laughs. “And I love that. I love that. I love having people over.”

While Ed sometimes regrets how far he is from his studio, once he is home all of those thoughts slip away and he focuses more on his family, and maybe on a graffiti wall and sculpture trail he can add.

“It’s an amazing house,” she says. “It’s more amazing than I ever thought we’d have.”