David & Marcelle's Nashville Beach House

David & Marcelle's Nashville Beach House

Jason Loper
Apr 12, 2011

Name: David Baird & Marcelle Guilbeau
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Size: 1,750 square feet
Years lived in: 14 — owned

Don't worry – they didn't move Nashville. David and Marcelle's modern little home and studio is actually a beach house without the sand and surf. With a laid back coastal style, it's easy to forget this little house and adjacent studio are in Tennessee.

David and Marcelle are two very creative people who know a thing or two about cool houses – he's an architect and she's an interior designer – so it's no surprise that their home is so gorgeous. What is a surprise is that they were able to transfer David's California beach style to their home and studio. Whether viewed from inside or out, it would be easy to forget that this is Nashville and not La Jolla. The couple's friends report that if you close your eyes you can practically hear the waves and I totally believe that!

The part of this tour that is particularly swoon worthy, at least from my point of view, is the separate design studio where David runs his architectural business. It has long been my dream to have a house with a detached studio so when I saw the photos of David and Marcelle's set-up I was practically green with envy! The fact that the little mod structure is just across the driveway from the couples main house, with a large glass wall overlooking a majestic Dogwood tree, is just too good to be true! Watch out, David and Marcelle, now that a certain blogger has fallen in love with your home, you may find yourself with an interloper in your studio!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: David's is totally modern. Both of us are naturally Zen. My taste runs a little more whimsical and romantic.

Inspiration: We often say our house is a "beach house but without the beach." David spent 14 years out in La Jolla, California, where he developed this breezy mod house style. Marcelle fell in love with it, and brought in a little softness. Her inspirations come from her time spent in Italy, the Caribbean, Santa Fe, and just — nature itself.

Favorite Element: The house and studio breathe in the outdoors through their views, partial walls and indoor glass partitions that let the light and views through. The indoor and outdoor glass partitions reflect bits of sky, tree branches and leaves, and seasonal flowers. We have a magnificent 50 year old Dogwood tree right in the middle of a pristine patch of green grass, and it is the back yard jewel. It can be viewed from the dining table, the back patio, 2 outdoor decks wrapping the studio, and from within anywhere inside the studio.

Biggest Challenge: We have a sewer line that's just about 18 feet out from the back of the house. So when we add on, we'll need to graft on a 2 story addition to our 1 story beloved house. Because we love the original house just as it is, it is a tough "form" design problem. We haven't solved it yet! And until then, we have to keep the existing back windows and doors "unobstructed" (as we renovate to maximize space) so we don't lose any potential, when and if we ever add on…

What Friends Say: "Wow!" "I never would have guessed from the outside it would be this tall!" "I feel so relaxed when I am here." "I can almost hear the rushing surf in your yard."

Biggest Embarrassment: It took us a whole year for David to get the tall central bathroom door installed. We had a sheet up for a while, and then an unfinished door with no knob, just a hole in it, which you had to pull closed for some partial privacy. We had very limited entertaining options then.

Proudest DIY: Making the patio with loose Bluestone pavers, set in a bed of sand, with a water pool and a bamboo hedge at the end of it. This helped to "finish" the back of the house, making it a great outdoor space to flow into, but it is also infinitely portable, for when we build that next addition. Everything is made of loose pieces and parts, so you can take it apart and rearrange it as needed.

Biggest Indulgence: We are about to build in a bed with drawer storage for our toddler son Liam. It will sit along a wall to the side of the window which will someday be an entrance to the addition. The bed and drawers will be fully finished modular components that can move to another room/orientation some day.

Best Advice: Dream big, then get a plan. Do the parts that are most important to you first. Keep prioritizing. Breathe.

Dream Sources: The Case Study Houses, Pierre Chareau, Clodagh, Ilse Crawford, our travels, and nature.

Resources of Note:


    • Sofas and tables: Case Study pieces via Modernica
    • Wall lamp: Designed by David, custom made locally
    • Throw Pillows: West Elm and Bo Concept International
    • Rug: Van Den Brink and Campman Holland, New Zealand wool
    • Flooring: solid red oak original to the 50's ranch house
    • Painting: "Seeing Faith", oil on wood, by Caroline Vincent, a local artist and art teacher


    • Table: Max table by Kartell
    • Chairs: vintage Cherner Chairs, via eBay and other vintage furniture shops
    • Flooring: solid red oak original to the 50's ranch house
    • Pendants: Luceplan, via Urban Lighting, San Diego, California
    • Painting: Francoise Gilot "Owl" Guache


    • Base cabinets: Stainless steel tube frames designed by David, custom made locally. Doors and knobs via Home Depot. Counters: Wilsonart laminate.
    • Overhead cabinets: IKEA
    • Flooring: white terrazzo tile
    • "Mobile Sculpture" suspended in wall niche: vintage World War II molded plywood leg splint, by Charles and Ray Eames


    • Bed and night tables: Case Study pieces via Modernica
    • Table lamps: designed by David, custom made locally
    • Bedding: West Elm


    • Base cabinets: Stainless steel tube frames designed by David, custom made locally. Doors and knobs via Home Depot. Counters: Wilsonart laminate
    • Flooring: white terrazzo tile


    • Bedding: Dwell Baby
    • Crib: Solid European Poplar, a warehouse surplus item found through eBay
    • Rocker: Nurseryworks Storytime Rocker
    • Carpet: Tandus, Llano II

Thanks, David & Marcelle!

Images: Brannon Segroves

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