A Race to Renovate

    With a very limited independent film–scale budget, Annette Joseph transformed an ideal (yet very raw) two bedroom downtown Nashville loft into a cozy, light filled space that was just perfect for my family’s stay there. Housed in a building called "The Icon" in the up-and-coming "Gulch" area, Annette and her team worked tirelessly and achieved the unachievable in 10 days! Below, Annette chronicles how it was done. She is one impressive lady.


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    Annette Joseph’s Interior Design

    Living and dining room

    “When I first got word I would be designing a temporary living space in Nashville, Tennessee for Gwyneth Paltrow while she was filming a movie, all I knew is that she was a very accomplished actress, loves to cook, and has a website called goop.”

    “Anything more about her I was about to learn at our first design meeting in Nashville, on a cold day in January.”

    Our meeting:

    “We met in the apartment, which in a word was a shell. All it really had to speak for it was a fantastic view of downtown Nashville, and that’s about it. The kitchen was builder grade (in other words, not so nice) and the bathrooms were very ordinary. The big challenge?: How to make this space a beautiful yet comfortable landing pad for a busy woman and her family, temporarily living in the south.”


    “Gwyneth does a lot of cooking and we agreed that the kitchen needed some alterations, mainly a gas stove. I assured her I would make it a cook’s kitchen, (and I did.)”

    Master bathroom

    “Then we surveyed the rest of the apartment, the only request she had was a proper bathtub, as she loves to bathe her kids at night. After our walk through we sat down in my office to hammer out the details, so I could get started. I only had 10 days to plan, tear down, construct and decorate the apartment (a 3 month project condensed into 10 days.)”

    How would you describe the look of this apartment?

    Left, living room. Right, master bedroom

    “I had put together a large stack of ideas, everything from furniture, color palette, fixtures, fabrics, appliances, lighting and photos of original artwork for Gwyneth to sort through, our meeting consisted of yes’s and no’s. She motored through about 200 choices in an hour. She knew the color palette and the style she wanted, modern yet comfortable, no autumnal color ways, and no sharp edges for safety of the children. When we finished we shook hands at the door, and said good bye and she thanked me again, and we both went off to work, she to the set, and me to my desk to pull an all-nighter.”

    You had 10 days to turn a cold and raw industrial space into a home, what was your step-by-step plan of attack?

    “We had a strict timeline… worked 16-18 hour shifts with an amazing crew of craftsmen….and here’s how it went down….”

    Kitchen and bathrooms in progress

    Monday and Tuesday: While the guys tore everything down that I specified out of the space, I shopped for tile, fixtures, lighting and a proper bathtub. I ordered furniture, while my fabulous assistant Natalie bought everything for the day to day, like all the kitchen small appliances, kitchen essentials like dishes, pots and pans, sheets, towels, even toys for the kids. One trick was that we never let the 18-hour crew leave to eat lunch, we brought lunch and all ate together to keep the momentum going.”

    Left: trunk loaded after a marathon trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond. Right: crew putting the apartment back together

    Wednesday - Sunday we put the apartment back together, hanging drywall, sanding and painting all at the same time, which is a nightmare, but with clever solutions we managed to get it done. We laid tile, hung lighting, created a pantry, installed appliances and drapery all at the same time, and we even painted a giant chalkboard wall for Apple and Moses. At one point I counted there were 30 men all pounding, painting, tiling and installing appliances and lighting at the same time…”

    Master bedroom, ready to be unpacked

    “By Monday of the following week, 1 week after tearing the place to shreds, 3 assistants and myself were cleaning and prepping to load in furniture to start finishing the space.”

    Master bedroom

    Tuesday – Thursday my assistants and I were washing, ironing, loading into cabinets and folding laundry all at the same time, while a professional art installer installed artwork on the walls. We arranged flowers, placed scented candles, installed an iPod station, and a TV.”

    “The owner of Mitchell Gold Atlanta/Nashville, Ben, came and installed the master bed himself, everyone pitched in.”

    “Needless to say it was non-stop 24 hours a day, and I could not have done it had I not had the relationships with vendors”

    What are your tips for warming up an industrial space?

    “By Friday we were finished, the nonstop pace had paid off. By using soothing tones of linen and grey, soft inviting fabric choices, an accent wall painted fuchsia as a fun surprise, along with comfortable big scale pieces of furniture from Mitchell Gold, this stark industrial space looked warm and inviting. I incorporated lots of great lighting all on dimmers (my hard/fast rule for lighting your home) and fluffy rugs.”

    What are some easy, affordable ways to brighten up any space?

    “The fuchsia paint was an affordable dramatic design idea, it was a welcome surprise at the entry to the master bedroom.”

    “The console piece on the fuchsia accent wall was from Nest Interiors in Nashville, a repurposed altar piece from India, it was an open-back iron and wood piece, which I was able to light inside.”

    “We used fuchsia velvet custom pillows, the fabric came from Hobby Lobby, and we had them affordably made at a budget upholsterer.”

    “The fun plastic dining chairs were from as were the galvanized stools. A great resource for hip chairs.”

    “Another dramatic yet affordable feature was the master bathroom, I tore all the walls down and covered the entire space with marble tile from Mission Stone and Tile in Nashville (the secret is that the marble was actually ceramic marble-like tile from Italy at a great price.)”

    “The bathtub was a floor sample I found in a lighting store in Nashville (watch out for floor samples; as long as they’re in good condition, they’re often great deals.) I gave the claw tub center stage and hung a few inexpensive lights with drum shades to create a sense of drama.”

    “The kitchen lights were a flea market find, I bought the fixture for $400... I was so thrilled.”

    “The Stainless Steel Island was from a local fabricator, very fun to go to the factory, it cost about 500 bucks....Falcon Fabricators in Nashville the shelves in the pantry were also from here.”

    “The 3 tier wooden stand in the kitchen was from a fantastic local store in Nashville, Nest Interiors. Having an eye-catching, wooden piece like this one made the stainless steel kitchen area much more inviting.”

    “The Nespresso Machine, $249, was a must and something I always put into clients homes, great for entertaining...and morning wake up, of course.”

    “The sofas, chairs, master bed, coffee table, and rugs were from Mitchell Gold

    “Apple and Moses’ , purple bunk bed and custom monogram floor pillows came from Posh Tots

    “The Convertible grey felt couch in the kids room came from Blu Dot

    “Apple and Moses' cool toys and coloring books were from Anthropologie

    Questions and Answers

    What are your favorite places to shop for great decorating deals?

    My go-to stores are:

    Did you borrow the art from galleries? What’s that process like?

    A: “As a photo stylist I borrow things all the time to appear in magazines. Designers will usually borrow things for show houses, and temporary installations. Since this was a temporary situation, and Gwyneth is an art supporter and designer, I had no problems borrowing important pieces from the galleries. However unless you are a stylist working in TV, film or Magazines, or a designer working on a temporary space, borrowing artwork is not an option. I strongly believe all people should purchase and live with fine art.”

    “I couldn’t have done it without Anna Skillman at Jackson Fine Art and Susan Tinney at Tinney Contemporary Gallery Nashville who lent all the art in the apartment.”

    From Tinney Contemporary:

    Sisavanh Phouthavong

    Attack of the Hummingbirds: Enron Scandal
    48” x 48” Acrylic on Canvas

    Todd Alexander

    Look What I Can Do
    49” x 36” Mixed Media on Panel

    Linda Mitchell

    Dreams #4: Summer Heat
    24” x 24” Mixed Media on Canvas

    Jason Lascu

    Birthday Hat
    22” x 8” x 8” Mixed Media

    From Jackson Fine Art:

    David Hilliard

    Jackie Immersed, 2007
    72 x 20 inch C-prints mounted on plexi; face mounted to plexi

    Mona Kuhn

    Colonial, from the Native Series, 2009
    30 x 30 inch Chromogenic Dye Coupler Print

    Mona Kuhn

    Livia and Renan, from the Native Series, 2009
    30 x 30 inch Chromogenic Dye Coupler Print

    Jeannette Montgomery Barron

    Bathing Cap, 2007
    28 x 28 inch pigment print on Hahnemuhle cotton paper

    Jeannette Montgomery Barron

    Ghost Dress, 2007
    28 x 28 inch pigment print on Hahnemuhle cotton paper

    Jeannette Montgomery Barron

    Neiman Marcus, 2006
    28 x 28 inch pigment print on Hahnemuhle cotton paper

    Jeannette Montgomery Barron

    Norell Perfume Bottle, 2006
    28 x 28 inch pigment print on Hahnemuhle cotton paper

    Todd Murphy

    Kestrel Branches from the Sovereign Tree Series, 2009
    30 x 60 inch Digital C-Print mounted to plexi

    Todd Murphy

    Trunk and Nuthatch from the Sovereign Tree Series, 2009
    30 x 60 inch Digital C-Print mounted to plexi

    Vee Speers

    Untitled #33, The Birthday Party, 2008
    24 x 20 inch Cibachrome

    Annette Joseph lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and 2 children. She works as a producer/photo stylist for national magazines, and TV. She works on interiors photo shoots, food and entertaining features and is currently working on her first book on style+entertaining. She has worked with many high profile clients in her 25year career on their private spaces however, for her,“working with Gwyneth was a career highlight for me, it was more like working with a great design partner in the end.”

    The goop collection