Couple fills Forest Hills home with art and inspiration

By Hollie Deese
Photography by Mary Craven

Healthcare attorney Chris Howard and his wife, Angie, had tackled a renovation or two over the course of their years together. Eight years ago, they decided to embark upon building a home from the ground up, and they drew upon their earlier experience to make their new home fit how they live and to work together to make it happen.

Working with West Cook of Cook Builders, the Howards put into practice all of the elements they wanted in their forever home – hang out space for their boys, now 14 and 18, a serene outdoor area right off the master, lots of light and open spaces for entertaining.

But one of the biggest parts of how they live is being surrounded by the art they collect. Many of the pieces were purchased from the University School of Nashville’s annual Artclectic fundraiser — years before their children became students at USN.

“I would love to say that I’m an artist, but I’m not. I just appreciate other people’s work,” Angie says. “Ever since we moved to Nashville, we would try to pick up a piece or two here and there, but mostly at things like Artclectic or local galleries, things like that.”

Their first Artclectic piece was bought in 1997 when the show was still held in the school gym. It was a mosaic piece from Sherri Warner Hunter that has been since gifted to someone else.

Their home has an open floor plan. That, combined with years of collected pieces, has Angie looking for art that doesn’t hang on walls.

“Paintings are what I always look at first. Then I realize we don’t have anywhere to put them,” she says. “We had pretty limited wall space to begin with and now what we have is taken up.”

Now she keeps an eye out for things like sculpture, glass, felt, photography, multi-media and 3D works of art. And she somehow always finds room for something new.

“It makes me happy,” Howard says of the art. “We’re not collecting it because we think it’s valuable or anything like that. It’s just stuff we think makes our home a better place.”

It also reflects their interests, style and sensibility, and even utilitarian items are pieces of art in the Howard home. The kitchen has a showstopper stove hood, and the dining room table has a custom base created by Larry Stone and coordinated by the Howard’s designer, Sally Truitt.

“He did a lot of things in the house, and it’s really a showpiece,” she says. “There’s some spaces that were kind of odd. The dining room space is a little odd. So, it needed a table that was just right for that.”

This year at Artclectic, which is scheduled for Oct. 24-26, Howard is excited to look for pieces from new artists, definitely some jewelry, and hopefully run into some artists she has gotten to know over the years, especially when she was a co-chair a few years ago — even helping some of them hang their work.

“I think that [Artclectic] shows the art off in the best possible way, but it’s very approachable and the artists are there,” she says. “You can talk to them, and I think that aspect of it — the educational aspect where the kids get to come in and talk with the artists — is probably one of the more impressive things. It’s become bigger and better, but still feels like a community event.”