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Inside the Loft That Inspires Nashville

Jun 14 2014 - 9:35am

Not many people can claim a concert venue as their own, but for Gavin O'Neill and Jeremy Ryan, it happens to be the perfect fit. Dubbed Nashville's Cotton Mill Live, the 2,000-square-foot loft is not only the place these creatives call home, but a space that encourages "sharing, testing, and living in creativity." With Gavin being the visionary behind their clothing store Hello Boys [1] and Jeremy a notable photographer [2], it's no surprise their home centers around a heightened sense of detail. Among the eclectic array of flea-market finds and the ever-changing performance space, the historic loft has not only become a source of inspiration for the couple, but the community too.

Photos by Jeremy Ryan [3]

POPSUGAR: What inspired you to turn your home into a space for concerts and events?

Gavin O'Neill: With a 2,000-square-foot space and vaulted ceilings, Jeremy and I quickly realized the potential it had for events. One of our first events was for a friend's birthday party last March. Her favorite band was in town and since we had the space, we decided to let them play a small acoustic set. After the first song, Jeremy and I knew it was something we couldn't live without. By July, we hosted our first Cotton Mill Live concert. There's something special that happens when you create a space that in turn invites creation. We're addicted.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [4]

GO: My design mantra is eclectic texture. If it represents you, go with it; always take the opportunity to present your best self.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [5]

PS: Can you give us a bit of the history behind the Cotton Mill?

GO: Unfortunately, not much is known about the 508 Gallery Lofts. Located on the Cumberland River (just southeast of downtown Nashville), they were built in the early 1900s and believed to be used for shipping and processing cotton. Inside the lofts today stand the bare bones of the original building; the century-old hardwood floors and beams give an undeniably loft-like feeling.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [6]

GO: My go-to hosting tip is to prepare as much as you can the night before and pour your first cocktail 30 minutes before guests come.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [7]

PS: How does your love for fashion translate into your decor?

GO: Fashion and decor definitely follow the same beat for me. How I present myself and how I present my home are a reflection of my personal brand as a professional creative, community member, and friend. I seek out texture the most. Whether its the new Fall jacket I found, the Spring shorts I'm going to buy, or a couch that we both fall in love with. I really think that textures add a heightened sense of detail. It subtly asks you to pay attention.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [8]

Jeremy Ryan: When it comes to entertaining, don't forget the bathroom, y'all. Be well stocked on all the amenities.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [9]

PS: Your loft is filled with so many cool pieces; what are some of your go-to places for decor?

GO: When it comes to collecting furniture, it is safe to say about 90 percent of what we have has come from flea markets, antique malls, and thrift stores. Jeremy has an incredible eye when it comes to style and what something can become. One of my favorite stories is how we acquired the lime green velvet club chairs. Jeremy found them in a local thrift garage, $15 for the pair. They were dirty, dusty, and in need of a loft of help. After shampooing them, ripping off the dust curtains, and exposing the wood legs, they are now one of my favorite pieces in our home.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [10]

PS: Any advice for decorating as a couple?

GO: Decorating as a couple can definitely be tricky. When Jeremy and I first moved, our furniture was due to arrive three weeks later, so there was a lot of time initially spent starring at blank walls. We really took to different projects and just trusted each other. Every once in a while we would need help from one another with the heavy lifting, but otherwise we were just trying to blend two different visions.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [11]

GO: Jeremy centers his visual life around color. A student of Pantone [12]'s, he brings his knowledge and passion for color into his wardrobe, decor, and photography.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [13]

GO: Upon moving in, I first saw the large, white walls as daunting, but wanted to bring color to them without paint. Soon after, I began the task of covering the 16-foot walls with album covers. After that, everything really found its place.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [14]

PS: What is one thing no home should be without?

GO: No home should be without creative space, a place for you to rest your head and let your mind drift. Both Jeremy and I have created separate spaces for ourselves where we feel inspired, supported, and get to scheme and dream. I think intentionally giving yourself space like that in your own home, no matter how big or small it is, is the greatest gift to yourself and everyone around you.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [15]

GO: One of our favorite finds is the 1920s Apollo baby grand piano. Jeremy found it on Goodwill auction online for, believe it or not, $160. It plays beautifully, and we use it for concerts all the time.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [16]

JR: My design mantra is simple and sweet, color. Nothing communicates better than the palette around us.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [17]

JR: The best place to get inspired has to be our local flea market. I always leave bursting with ideas from all the visual stimulation of other people's treasures. I usually manage to take something home myself.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [18]

GO: Jeremy's first project was creating the two walls of vintage window panes to separate his office space from the rest of the room.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [19]

PS: Do you have any tips for hosting a successful party?

GO: I would say the best advice I can give when throwing a party is to be realistic and don't bite off more than you can chew. If you know your schedule is packed the week leading up to it, don't burden yourself with the promise that six different gourmet pizzas will be at your party. People are always thrilled with whatever you do as host, so do what you can accomplish, and do it well.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [20]

GO: The interesting thing about our space is that it is always changing. Between setting up for concerts, and more frequently, setting up for photo shoots, the furniture is never in one place for long. Jeremy uses every square foot of our space with his photography projects.

Photo by Jeremy Ryan [21]

GO: I am a firm believer in sharing inspiration. We have centered our home around sharing, testing, and living in creativity. We always wanted this space to feel accessible to our community in hopes that they too can come and create with us.

Source: Deanna Hampton [22]


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