Kathy Anderson injects life into all her living spaces

Photography by Marty Paoletta (Loft) and Jessica Keener (Island)

When in-demand interior designer Kathy Anderson of Anderson Design Studio wants to unwind from work, she doesn’t have to go very far. Just up the stairs, in fact.

In 2014, Anderson bought a two-level building on Second Avenue near Printers Alley. After a remodel of the 1890-era building, she moved her business, Anderson Design Studio, onto the first floor and her residence onto the second. She then sold, selling her home near Montgomery Bell Academy and became one of more than 11,000 people living downtown.

“It’s so much fun every night,” she says. “Last night we walked over to Jeff Ruby’s. We were just going to get a little sushi roll, but of course they were having a steak- and- lobster special. But it is city living, and there’s days I don’t pull my car out of the garage — because I leave for work in the morning with my purse and my coat, and I don’t go back upstairs all day.”

Printers Alley has become a kind of home base for her whole family, with one of her sons living in the Sullivan building and her daughter-in-law (Melody Malloy and husband Gary Bowie ) living there, as well, even collaborating on renovating Printers Alley Lofts and renting them out as a vibrant alternative to hotel life for visitors. And they are designed to perfection.

As for her own space, things don’t have to be as exact. She will even take a piece off her wall if it works perfectly for one of her projects — after all, she knows more beautiful things are right around the corner.

“My own personal house is kind of a collection of things, a collection of art and furniture that I love,” she says. “A little more Bohemian versus a perfectly decorated space. Even though other people seem to come up and think it’s perfectly decorated, that’s not how I see it. Most everything is replaceable.”

Producer’s Loft in Printers Alley

Anderson had been going to Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun for years before she first took her husband, David Malloy, with her.

“I love this little island because all you need is flip flops anywhere you go —, even the nicest restaurants,” she says. “But I thought this was really going to be the test, if this guy was going to be my guy or not. When we got there, he was on the back of the ferry watching the luggage and wondering if it was safe. By the end of the week, he was like, ‘Wow, this place is awesome. Why haven’t you ever bought anything here?’”

She took that too heart and soon bought a lot on the island — she– even closed on it on their honeymoon — and about five years later they built the house.

“It’s so fabulous,” Anderson says. “It’s the most gorgeous turquoise water you’ve ever seen, and you sit at the pool and look over Cancun off in the distance. I call it my diamond bracelet , it’s so beautiful. We’re so passionate about it that, then other friends started going, so it ends up we have lots of Nashville friends who now have homes there or go there. It just really been kind of fun.”

And the five-bedroom, six-bathroom house — rented out when not in use by Anderson — is built for fun, and for those who are open to a more Bohemian lifestyle. And since it is only a two and a half hours from Nashville by plane, a lot of times it often becomes a satellite Music City.

“It’s like a party every day there,” she says.

Still she looks forward to the day when she can pass on a little more of the responsibility at Anderson Design Studio and spend even more time on her island with her sons, ages 27 and 30, and their future families.

“We plan on keeping it forever,” Anderson says.

It’s not time for resting yet, though, because she is currently in the middle of some exciting residential projects, one with architect Scott Wilson, another a Belle Meade rebuild and a third that is an 8,000- square- foot home in Brentwood with Hartert-Russell custom cabinets.

“I’m a creative person,” she says. “When people talk about retirement, I don’t really want to do that. I’ve had my business now 30 years, and I’m always learning and constantly challenged. Every project is different, so it’s never boring. I mean, I haven’t had a boring day in my life because you never know what’s going to be thrown at you.”

Anderson’s island escape