Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior designer Mark Simmons creates spaces brimming with refined character and gracious details in his new Nashville home.

Text by Emily Jackson
Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Holidays at the home of interior designer Mark Simmons and his wife Sissy are always an elegant experience. While each season ushers in a myriad of occasions to celebrate, the revelry comes to a crescendo at Christmastime with dazzling parties and treasured family traditions.

The Simmons’ Nashville home, filled with the sound of familiar carols being played on the piano and vignettes of fresh greenery, encourages all manner of merriment. A coterie of guests, including their four grown children, extended family, friends, colleagues, and clients, are invited to indulge in the December festivities. “We enjoy entertaining frequently. Our thought is, ‘If we’re going to have this house, we need to use it and share it,’” says the designer.

After living in charming older homes for the majority of their 35-year marriage, the couple decided to embark on building a new house that would combine favorite elements from their previous residences with contemporary amenities. The result is a light-filled French Regency-style abode with five bedrooms, including a master on the main floor, and gathering spaces that flow intuitively for everyday living. “My wife and I wanted a house that would fit our lifestyle and age gracefully with us,” says Simmons. Energy-efficient solutions, such as geothermal heating and cooling and insulated windows, ensure the home functions optimally, while traditional hallmarks temper its modernity.

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

Yuletide Splendor by Mark Simmons

Interior design by Mark Simmons Interiors, Photography by Stephanie Welbourne-Steele

“Because we’ve always liked old houses and the character they have, we wanted to make sure that we gave this new home the same feel,” he says. A stately exterior reflects the designer’s classical tastes with a white stucco facade, slate roof, and limestone steps. Architectural appointments, such as two pairs of octagonal windows and an upstairs landing balcony, hint at the tailored details that await inside. “Every room has its own special elements, however subtle they may be. In a newer house, it’s the moldings and materials used that create the charm,” he says. A masterful application of wood plays out in the family room, where a honey-hued stained poplar envelops the space in warmth. The adjacent kitchen is outfitted with quarter sawn oak cabinets finished with a greyed wash and a book-matched backsplash of Calacatta marble over a Lacanche range.

Simmons’ fresh take on traditional schemes carries into the living room, where a painted antique mahogany mantel holds court, and a large-scale portrait of the couple’s children hangs prominently. Taking cues from the artwork’s color palette, the airy room is punctuated with pops of reds, greens, and blues. “We wanted the living room to feel approachable, and we use it often, especially when we have company over. I’m of the thought that a living room doesn’t have to be just a sofa and chairs; there needs to be something in the space that draws you in,” he says. Beckoning guests to enjoy the relaxed ambience is a round table that welcomes puzzles and card games next to the Christmas tree.

Eschewing the trend of a themed tree, the family prefers to trim theirs with sentimental ornaments from travels and handmade designs from years past. An assemblage of William Yeoward crystal trees and assorted Royal Crown Derby dessert plates adorn the dining room table, lending a collected sensibility to the setting. High-gloss blue walls create an especially dramatic backdrop for holiday meals before diners retire to the billiard room for a game of pool. “Our goal was to make the whole house comfortable. We want our guests to feel especially welcome at Christmas,” he says. From a catered soiree for colleagues to a casual morning of opening gifts with family, the Simmons residence truly captures the spirit of the season.

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