The Natural Life

Take A Walk In The Tennessee Woods with Artist & Author Randy Elrod, Whose Everyday Explorations Provide New Recipe Ideas, Art Projects, And Feed His Love Of Nature.

by Sharon Franklin

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 27 seconds

The sun is just coming up when Randy shuffles into the kitchen to brew hot water and grind beans for the stylish Chemex coffee maker and savor a steaming cup or two before heading down the ridge to feed the horses. It’s a typical morning at their rustic modern farmhouse, situated on 54 acres of woodland wonderland east of Nashville. Randy and his wife, Gina, a champion equestrian, built the custom two-bedroom house where they live with their eleven-pound Morkie named Remy.

Lifelong nature lovers, Randy and Gina are now sharing a passion for the natural world with anyone who stays at their idyllic guest cottage situated on its own private verdant 15 acres. “Nature has such an effect on our whole being,” Randy says, “We have tried to add more and more natural beauty inside our home, everything from plants and interior decorations to the colors we use. We wanted to bring the outside in as much as possible.”

Much of their decor is the product of foraging, woodworking, and collecting. Surfaces like bookshelves, tabletops, and the mantel act as nature dioramas. And their collection is growing. Not a day goes by—whether in summer’s heat or the snows of winter—that Randy doesn’t go outside to hike and explore. “Our front gate feels like the beginning of a Tolkien story, once we open it, peace and calm rush over our body and soul.”

Our fireplace mantel was formed from an oak tree downed by lightning, deer antlers discovered on walks decorate tables, and assorted sticks and unusual limbs provide interior accents. Gina has a green thumb and keeps a plethora of live plants throughout the house to add greenery and color. Numerous large windows, glass doors, and a wrap around deck over twenty feet high make the myriad oak, cedar, and black walnut trees seem a vital part of the interior.

Throughout the house, you will find Randy’s original watercolors, sketches, and hand-crafted furniture. The walls are covered with symbolic decorations and function as a gallery of memories. The couple designed and built Randy’s ridge-top atelier (art studio) called the Hawk’s Nest with their own hands utilizing an emphasis on local eastern cedar.

Randy explains, “It takes more time than I expected to practice living a simple life here. Even after three years I still find myself at times hurrying up a trail, rushing to complete a task; or when eating our delectable home-cooked meals, picking up my fork before I have finished chewing. But when I do manage to slow down, one of my greatest pleasures is foraging the land for blackberries, acorns, black walnuts, hickory nuts, dandelions, pears, and whatever else is to be found as ingredients for the next meal.”

“Gina and I are finding we do not have to go, go, go and do, do, do to feel satisfied.” In fact, he painted a reminder of their mantra and placed it in the epicenter of their living space as a constant reminder. It merely reads, There Is No Hurry.

Created by Randy Elrod
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