A historic home gets the maximalist treatment
By Hollie Deese
Photography by Allison Elefante
It’s 2022, and a 121-year-old home in the heart of the city is getting a second act as an Instagram influencer.
Since 1806 Beech Avenue was first listed earlier this year, the 6-bedroom, 6-bathroom home (including guest house) has racked up hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok and has fans from all over the country who are in awe of its 11-foot ceilings, black exterior paint and over-the-top design that is a feast for the eyes.
Of course, behind every beauty is a glam squad sweating it out to get every detail just right. And in the case of this Victorian craftsman, all the accolades go to Marisa Biddle, owner of Nashville Design Company. Nashville Interiors previously featured Biddle in a Spring 2020 feature, “First Time Flip,” when her Cleveland Park cottage project got record square-footage pricing for the neighborhood at the time.
Signs of Biddle’s maximalist style were all over that 1930s renovation, which helped fuel the record-setting sales price. That reaction to her “more is more” looks have only encouraged her voice to grow and flourish with the older and more experienced “Miss Beech,” as Biddle calls the home.
“That’s where I, like, want to live and die, just doing everything to the very limits and pushing the design of my projects, because that’s what makes me happy,” she says of why she passes up cookie-cutter projects for ones that allow her a bigger voice. “This is the best part to me, to be able to infuse my personality and design aesthetic into my projects.”
The main home is 3,200 square feet. A new construction guest house out back adds another 1,500 square feet, and the ease of that compared with renovating the old wasn’t lost on her.
“But old houses, they speak to me,” she says. “I have loved old houses since I was a little girl. They are magical to me. They just have a backbone that you can’t find with new construction. No matter what you do to new construction, you always know it’s new. And I just feel like old houses have a soul. I’m obsessed with them.”
After Biddle bought the Beech home, she had the opportunity to meet some of the family members who once lived there for more than 50 years. They were a family of five—four boys and their mom, who was an ER nurse at Vanderbilt for more than 40 years.
“She never missed a day of work. She was a single mom that raised four boys in that house and she just sounded like such a badass, just the most amazing woman,” Biddle says. “Knowing the story of that family made me want to just honor that house even more.”
Working with architect Troy Harper, Biddle didn’t work against the bones of the home, only worked to enhance. From the street, it already had most of the most architectural elements—a flared roof and sweet little dormers. But on the inside, she was able to scratch the old layout and modernize, while keeping as much of the detail as possible.
The mix of new and salvage pieces is accented by patterned wallpaper and colorful details. And nothing is too much—think an onyx sink in the powder bath and columns from the Macy’s department store in Atlanta.
“Everything in that house has a story, and I’m the one that knows it all because my feet are on the ground. I’m shopping for this stuff, and it’s like a puzzle that comes together,” she says. “I am always looking for unique things, and I’m putting them together—and somehow they make sense.”
Of course, $25,000 copper gutters are not the kind of design decision most people would make if they’re trying to make the most money back on a project, and they had no problem telling her that. But she stands firm in every choice she made to make this house experience its moment in the sun.
“From day one of a project I just try to listen to what they want me to do to them,” she says of the homes. “How can I elevate them in the way they deserve? And that is what Miss Beech needed. She needed jewelry around her neck.”