Country music executives and artists who could afford any hotel in town are choosing a quiet cottage for their extended stays in Nashville. Yesterday's lavish excess gives way to today's clean, comfortable living in a compact version of eco-tourism. Little House Nashville received the Green Star Award from the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the US Green Building Council in 2011, and it is the first home in Nashville to receive LEED Platinum certification by the USGBC. It's an historic servant's quarters near Vanderbilt University, completely gutted and rebuilt to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards to create a 750-square foot vacation home with private courtyard and treehouse.
Owner Jane Hardy
Little House Nashville
The first impression is all about the relaxing patio and garden where green is the goal year-around. Owner Jane Hardy has planted edible hardy citrus, cherry, gooseberry and blueberry bushes into the landscape, where Southern magnolia and crape myrtle set the tone for natural elegance. Meeting LEED standards means drought-tolerant plants like mondo grass create a carefree lawn, the sidewalk and patio are designed for ideal drainage, and barrels catch precious rain from the rooftop to save for watering. Guests can get as involved as they care to in discovering the colorful hens who nest near the little vegetable garden, or in learning why a compost heap is cleverly tucked away beneath the magnolias.
Inside Little House Nashville are two versatile living rooms that each convert to full-sized bedrooms, a fully accessible modern bathroom, plus a working kitchen and laundry. The cottage is decorated with splashes of warm color against a refreshingly calm backdrop. Your stay can either be entirely unplugged or take advantage of the big screens and full access to media technology. The nonfunctioning knob and tube wiring is an artistic nod to the structure's past, along with the original chimney and some ceiling joists.
Living Room Converts
Into Full-Sized Bedroom
Everything else just looks like it's always been there. Nearly every bit of solid wood paneling, ceiling and extensive built-in cabinetry is salvaged from other homes. The wood is coated with zero-VOC paints or lacquers from (n)Habit. While you see nature-inspired themes whimsically inviting you to stay a while, it's what you don't consciously see that helps the environment. The owners invested in geothermal heating and cooling with radiant floor heat, soy-based spray foam insulation and energy saving windows to eliminate drafts, and space-maximizing custom-built storage. The structure uses only 2/3 the energy of a typical home its size. The elite LEED certification means there was third-party verification of these sustainable building techniques at every step in the process.
Kitchen Opens to Second Living/Sleeping Space
Indifferent owners would not have preserved this Music City gem. But Hardy and her husband were determined. "When we first bought the house 20 years ago I was told to go ahead and tear it down. Because it would be a lot less expensive to go ahead and build something new, and it would have been, but it wouldn't have the charm that this has." Who knows what new country songs will be inspired by a stay at Little House Nashville? Maybe less about tears in our beer and more about hope for our children's futures...