By Hollie Deese
Photography by Nick McGuinn, Garett Buell and Paige Rumore
Nashville has changed just a little bit since Seth Argo moved here from Memphis in 2003. He was in commercial development for 12 years before he made the switch to residential, a shift that has helped him appreciate all the moving pieces and personal touches that go into building a home. It is less decision by a committee that might not ever use the finished space, and more decisions from the hearts of the people who will actually live in it.
“The structure of it is the same, but the technicalities in high-end residential, definitely there’s a lot more details,” he says. “And in commercial, Walgreens never sends you a handwritten note telling you that you’ve done a great job. But when it’s something personal like someone’s home that they live in, and they’re creating memories there, they’re appreciative.”
Nothing makes Argo’s day more than hearing from clients how much they love the houses he has built, especially when they appreciate the custom details that are so important to him; they elevate a build or renovation — including molding, cabinetry, artisan siding, copper accent roofing and pervious paver driveways.
“A lot of it is just the trim details and getting them done right, and making sure it comes together the way they want it,” he says. “Trends are always changing. It used to be a 10-year trend cycle. Now it’s about half that. Things come in really, really hard, then stick around for maybe four or five years. Take shiplap. I feel like it’s peaking right now at this moment in time. In a couple years, no one will be doing it.”
He attributes the quicker trend cycle to the sheer amount of information out there, from Pinterest to publications and magazines that ensure that home and décor styles are constantly being reinvented. One not-so-great side effect is what Argo calls HGTV Syndrome, where people think they can gut and renovate a house for $45,000. In a weekend.
“What they don’t know is that there’s 45 different sponsors that have all bought advertising, and they’re funding the whole thing,” he says. “It’s the lights of Hollywood, and it’s not reality. That’s where I think things get a little tricky because people tend to have a somewhat of a warped sense of what true, quality craftsmanship really costs. It’s pay now or pay later. Either you do it right in the first place or you have to pay that money later to come back and fix it when it was not done right.”