Couple complete Cheatham County renovation just in time to hunker down

By Hollie Deese

Interior photography by Paige Rumore
Portrait photography by Michelle Morrow

Designer Anna Caro with MOTIV Interiors has a commitment to sustainable design, so when she and her husband, Zack, bought a 950-square-foot house in Ashland City, she knew that together they could build the home they had been dreaming of, one that was connected to nature yet still sophisticated, comfortable and stunning — perfect for entertaining now, with room to grow as a family in the future.

“Because it’s such a small floor plan, we were both thinking about what is essential from the beginning, even before the pandemic happened,” Anna says.

Zack, a Nashville native, was totally on board to let his wife take the lead on the sustainable renovation and design, while he and a work associate handled all of the labor. They hired a neighbor to do the cabinetry and custom built-ins Anna designed, while another neighbor installed plumbing.

“It was a pretty quick design situation because we did demo in one week, and then it was time to start putting it back together again,” she says. “I enjoyed that because I was able to design on instinct alone without fretting over things too much. I had to make decisions quickly.”

Zack wanted a lot of color, and she wanted to have a nice balance of open, bright spaces and cozier spaces. The small footprint demanded thoughtful integration of storage and flex spaces. So they created impactful style with custom details like a headboard with integrated nightstands, lighting and power; a multi-use booth and table with storage; and bold kitchen and bath finishes.

Focusing on sustainability, they emphasized stunning views of the surrounding forest, sourcing natural and local materials. All of the cabinetry is poplar, which is native to Tennessee. They implemented efficient lighting, plumbing and HVAC systems.

“You have to be really smart about every little detail when you’re working with such a small space,” she says. “I think everybody has a different definition of what it means to be comfortable or what luxury is. And for us, it means having great views to the outside and just being able to relax and not have a bunch of clutter around.”

They bought the property in June 2019, moved in mid-December and finished everything at the start of March — just in time to hunker down for the next few months. Luckily, another neighbor came over and tilled up a 30- by 30-foot patch of dirt that became the Caros’ first vegetable garden. It provided produce through the first months of the pandemic.

The two were musicians who fell in love playing in the band Anna and The Ladykillers before they got married and moved to the country. She is originally from Clarksville, but her parents met at Yellowstone National Park in the ’70s. They always wanted to go back out West, so she grew up in Bozeman, Montana, in the Rocky Mountains.

“My upbringing really formed a lot of my strong convictions towards conservancy and environmental activism,” she says.

She ultimately moved to Nashville to be closer to songwriting and give the music industry a shot, but the more she got into it, the more she knew it wasn’t the right fit. She went back to school for design at Watkins College of Art.

“This renovation proved you can still have everything you want and need within a small footprint by focusing on what is essential and what’s going to give you the most impact for how you want to live your life,” Anna says. “That’s helpful for distilling it down to what you really need and what you really want. And because we did that, we’ve got a place that we’re really happy with.”