Inspired Design: Tradition with a Twist


Tennessee decorator Eric Ross has mastered the art of putting a fresh spin on time-honored style.

Most design professionals will tell you that their interest in the field started early, but it’s rare that they landed their first client in childhood. Eric Ross, founder of Eric Ross Interiors in Nashville, was just 14 when his married sister enlisted him for an initial “buff and fluff,” a series of small updates to freshen the look of her home. “I’d go in and change out accessories or bring in pillows and new artwork,” says Eric, a native of Paducah, Kentucky. “It was just something I was good at and enjoyed.”


Fast-forward to February 2009. Having trained with a local decorator after college, followed by a short stint in furniture retail and seven-plus years at a large design firm, Eric decided the time was right to strike out on his own. Since then, he has built a reputation for crafting lushly layered rooms that honor the tenets of traditional style while reflecting the soul of their occupants. “Your home should reflect who you are on your best day,” Eric says. “When you go to a great party or a big event, you want to put your best foot forward, so you wear a great outfit and you get your hair done. That’s really what your home should look like.”


For Eric, it’s the smallest touches—the jewelry, if you like—that help to elevate a space to its full splendor. “The longer I work, the more enamored I get with details,” Eric says. “There’s a discovery that’s involved in a room every time [you see it]—things that are very subtle, but they tell the story. And that’s where the authenticity comes into a room, where the friends of the home-owner really feel comfortable because it’s a true representation of their friend’s personality.”


Eric’s associate, Christine Barker, is a key part of pulling all those details together, from culling fabric options to helping draft floor plans. “She’s a good sounding board, and she brings a younger eye,” he says. Like Eric, Christine loves the South, and she shares his appreciation for the warmth and comfort that define the region’s homes. “Southern style kind of has a softness to it, but lots of color and lots of pattern and texture,” she says.

inspired design

Those elements, along with a deeply rooted regard for heritage, are at the center of what has made Eric’s work such a success. “To me, it goes back to storytelling, and it feels old and grounded,” he explains. “That’s why I love traditional style. It gives me a sense of history and of permanence.”

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By Lisa Frederick
Photography by John O’Hagan

From Southern Lady, October 2016