While John Oates has been busy touring with his longtime collaborating partner, Daryl Hall, and with his own tour with The Good Road Band in support of his 2018 album, Arkansas, Aimee Oates has been bringing color to the Nashville community.
It’s in Nashville where John Oates’ solo career really began. After decades of touring and with new projects underway, it was time for John and Aimee Oates to plant roots. Central to their family and to music, their home in West Nashville has become the perfect city getaway.
Aimee Oates, a certified floral designer, has taken her keen eye for design and beautifully decorated each of their homes, from the mountains of Colorado to their condo in the Gulch. Her newest and ongoing project is their nearly one-hundred-year-old Tudor Revival in Historic Whitland. It is central to their parents, their son’s school, and to music.
Built in 1925, the home is 5,600 square feet and immediately attracted the couple with its thoughtful details, such as floor-to-ceiling cherry wainscoting in the living room, a brass hood and butcher-block island in the kitchen, and marble floors in the foyer. Other than decorating the space, the Oates haven’t made any changes since they moved in. “Everyone who has lived in this house since 1925 has done something really tasteful and unique,” says John. “We feel like its caretakers.”
Aimee’s personal design aesthetic is self-described as bohemian, traditional, and greatly influenced by the couple’s travels around the world. This is reflected in their Nashville home, an open and colorfully eclectic collection of rooms. The house is a living project, transposing and transforming as Aimee is inspired by new accent pieces and new projects.
“The spaces are ever-changing,” says Aimee with a laugh. “I’ll walk into a store with one plan or something I need, and it is quickly changed by something that catches my attention. It is constantly evolving with whatever new thing I find. I am never finished.”
Reimagining pieces with sentimental value into new spaces is part of the fun, she concludes.
An integral part of Aimee’s design process comes from her certification in floral arrangement. Her study of color and balance is certainly reflected in the design of their home. Some of her lessons involved working with unconventional materials, evidenced by a beautiful bouquet of feathers placed in an antique zebra box from the early 1900s in one room.
“This is one of those instances where I start with one thing, feathers, and it draws my eye to other things,” she says. “I think that’s part of the reason I was drawn to the peacock immediately.” This peacock is an antique taxidermy piece from Belgium that she spotted at a local antique and garden show.
“Everyone stared at me as I walked past holding the bird,” She recalls with a laugh, “I just think it’s beautiful.” The peacock looks on another beautiful piece in the Oates’ household. The scenic oil painting, which extends out past the confinement of its frame, was painted by Aimee’s niece.
“I had never seen a painting like that before. The way she went outside of the lines is beautiful.” Aimee says, “It really started a trend with us going outside of our own lines in our decorating. This house is so full of colors, like pink and green, that we would have stayed away from before.”
But the colors kept inviting themselves into their Nashville home, a contrast from their Colorado ranch, a mountain home full rustic motifs and earth tone accents. Nashville provided a new design outlet, gorgeous pinks and all. “I thought it would be out of our character, but it really works, the painting really ties everything in,” she says.
In fact, their colorful open living room is now the couple’s favorite room. Aimee describes the room as a Dutch still-life painting with all of its colors, patterns, and textures.
“It brings the outdoors in with all of the light and outside elements,” she says. “We just went for it and had a lot of fun.
“John was really involved,” she continues, explaining how the space took them out of their comfort zone. “We had great moments as a couple creating that room. There are lots of connections and sentimental value with the picture of our horses, our niece’s painting, family heirlooms, and some of my floral arrangements.”
Having grown up on a farm, Aimee was always exposed to the outdoors, fostering in her a life-long appreciation for nature. This appreciation inspired Aimee to seek out the courses in floral design, as well as becoming involved with the Nashville Petal Project.
Aimee loved learning that Petal Project used slightly loved flowers donated by various organizations.
“The residents of the memory unit use the flower donations to create these beautiful arrangements to be shared with other assisted livings in the Nashville area,” Aimee says. “There is nothing like being part of that magical process.”
“I started volunteering, then, little by little in my course, I started to gravitate toward novelty arrangements for hospitals,” she explains. “You would think it would be easy, but there are so many different criteria you must meet.”
She mentions the types of flowers which are allowed and how important it is to be aware of strong scents. This interest in novelty arrangements inspired Aimee to begin regularly working with Vanderbilt’s volunteer services to distribute donated flower arrangements to Vanderbilt University Hospital patients.
A love and an eye for the aesthetic has led Aimee to spread joy not only in her own space but with others across the Nashville community. A community John and Aimee are happy to call home. —Lane Lat
Photos Courtesy Shannon Fontaine Photography