by Amy Howell Hirt
While Jamie Beckwith’s professional titles include interior designer, product designer, manufacturer and entrepreneur, she sees her most important appointment as that of an interpreter. Her ability to understand, connect and communicate a client’s diverse, and sometimes undefined needs and styles often creates beautifully unexpected translations.
The mother of three found her way into the design field while taking a break from her career in the entertainment business to raise her children. Yearning for a “creative outlet,” she began designing spaces for family and friends. Her talent soon became known outside her immediate circle, which led to projects for a few A-list celebrities in the Nashville area and, five years ago, the establishment of her company, Beckwith Interiors.
Along with a team of designers and decorators, Beckwith focuses on high-end residential work in and around Nashville, including renovations and new construction. Given the area’s recent growth, Beckwith’s talent for translation has been the perfect fit for addressing this influx of diversity.
“Nashville seems to be very traditional in style, but there are so many people moving into the area for the music business who are willing to step out of that,” Beckwith says. The result has been transitional spaces that blend styles, materials, colors and eras in innovative, interesting ways.
Many of the firm’s projects, which have been pinned and re-pinned on design sites, serve as a study in creative design. There is a fresh-faced den that combines aubergine and fuchsia with dark-brown wood pieces, a pool house with a vaulted ceiling and cathedral style pointed-arch windows, and a kitchen with antique curved-glass shop windows from France that are used as architectural elements. One of the online favorites is a traditional sitting room perched on a glass floor above a wine cellar, which glows with a futuristic blue.
Adding to Beckwith’s skills and abilities, the designer created a new component to her business–and a new approach to wood flooring–by working with tradesmen to translate her own ideas. “I used straight-plank wood floors for a lot of projects and felt there was a void. I wondered why there weren’t more choices,” Beckwith says.
Although her vision was of a non-repeating wood flooring, “like a child’s jigsaw puzzle,” she says, once she began discussing the idea with those in the industry, she realized the “non-repeat” design would only be viable for custom installations, and edited the concept.
The Jamie Beckwith Collection, introduced in 2008, was well worth Beckwith’s “learning curve.” The “Enigma” and “Mosaic” lines of wood floor tiles, produced in Beckwith’s own facilities, include designs like simple curving slabs and puzzle-shaped tiles that reflect the richly classic yet contemporary balance that characterizes the company, and earned the 2011 “Best Green Flooring” award from Interior Design magazine.
Just as Beckwith hones her clients’ style, she continually edits her business. For example, the designer added a line of dimensional wall tiles and a line of wooden bathtubs and vessel sinks to the Jamie Beckwith Collection.
While stunning, all of her designs are based on marrying form and function, albeit in an intriguing way. Such was the case for a home in Forest Hills, outside of Nashville, TN. Beckwith used a gorgeous but unexpected cowhide rug in a master bathroom, straying from traditional mundane rugs.
“We wanted to give them something that was beautiful but also suitable for the water and humidity,” Beckwith says.
Beckwith admits some clients pursue, “beauty over function,” but maintains her focus on delivering what the client wants. “My job is to listen and get a good feel for what they are looking for. But I let them decide,” she says. “I’m there to interpret what clients are trying to achieve, and then use my resources and organizational and budgeting skills to bring it to life.”