We were thrilled to have our very own Ridley Wills featured as a “Neighbor To Watch” in Nashville, Tennessee’s Scout Guide and our proud to share the article with you here.
Ridley Wills of Wills Company
Nearly thirty years ago, Ridley Wills founded Wills Company with a vision to bring life back to some of Nashville’s finest homes. Today, the Wills Company is a leading design, remodel and home maintenance company serving the greater Nashville area. With a passion for historic architecture and design, we sat down with Ridley to learn more about his story, about some of the highly publicized restoration projects his group has led, and what he and his family love most about the holidays in Nashville.
TSGNASHVILLE: You founded your company in 1990. Tell us a little more about your story and how Wills Company came about. Did you always know you wanted to work in the world of architecture and design?
Wills: Growing up, I always enjoyed touring historic houses and cities on trips with my family. It was an easy and predictable fit with my father, a historian, and my mother, an antique collector. One summer while in architecture school at the University of Virginia, I bought a burned out, transitional Victorian cottage on Fatherland Street in East Nashville. Renovated, I sold that house for one of the highest price/per square foot sales in East Nashville up to that date. Bear in mind, East Nashville was a far cry from the cool factor it is today. By then, it was clear that my heart and passion were all in. It also helps that my aptitudes are ideally suited to my profession. I am blessed to have a specific gift that I can share with people, make a living and enjoy doing every day!
TSGNASHVILLE: We know you have a passion for historic architecture. How do you incorporate that passion into the renovation projects that you do for your clients’ homes around Nashville, especially those with unbelievable history and character?
Wills: A clear understanding of our region’s architectural history is foundational for any remodeling project we undertake, whether it is one of our city’s grand older homes or a ranch house in need of an update. The cues for a thoughtful renovation are taken from the existing architecture of the house. Often, we have to bring to light and enhance a particular feature or architectural style to make the home shine brightly again. It’s great to make a renovation or addition appear seamless, like it had always been that way. Conversely, a totally modern addition can be a fun and delightful surprise as long as it is sensitive to the original home. You don’t want the tail to wag the dog, so to speak. The bottom line is that understanding and caring for the core architecture of a house is critical to ensuring a successful redesign.
TSGNASHVILLE: Most people know that Wills Company is a superior design/build remodeling company, but can you tell us more about how y’all also provide maintenance services as well?
Wills: Well, the two go hand in hand. Houses need attention. Gutters need cleaning. Water is a constant threat. So, to protect their investment, our clients asked us to do just that, maintain their lovely homes. Many of our clients use us exclusively for that service so we have an entire team devoted to it. From helping someone “age in place” to sprucing up for a party, our team is there to help.
TSGNASHVILLE: With your scope of work, we’re sure you’ve seen some incredible homes. Any favorite projects come to mind?
Wills: I love my job and, frankly, each project on which I am working becomes my favorite for the period. When we can create a design that meets our client’s goals, functions beautifully and looks terrific – it is a joy. Here are just a few photos of projects that I have loved of late.
TSGNASHVILLE: We love the growing trend of renovation, as opposed to tear down and build new. For someone who might have just bought a fixer upper, what advice would you give on how to tackle the renovation process?
Wills: Be clear about what you, (and your spouse) want to achieve. Don’t get waylaid by trying to solve the problem too soon. For example, the goal is not to remove that wall, but rather to make the space feel larger or lighter. Once you have clear goals, then get educated about how to achieve them and what a realistic budget is to do so. Instagram presents a pretty picture, but there is much more to a quality renovation than what you see on the surface. We devote ourselves to the investment of your home, inside and out.
TSGNASHVILLE: Scout Guide is all about living local, and we have to ask about some of your local go-tos:
Wills: So many options. Parnassus, of course. ETC, Deb Paquette’s restaurant is always a win. Martin’s BBQ is a standout. Maneet Chuahan also brings wonderful dining joy to our city. The bar atop the Thompson Hotel has a fantastic view. And just walk the streets of Germantown; you never know what you may find!
TSGNASHVILLE: Where is your favorite place in Nashville to gather inspiration?
Wills: My personal library is a source for inspiration. I’ve been collecting architectural books since childhood. At this point I have over 400. From new works by contemporary masters, to long forgotten town catalogues by the local garden clubs, all have something to say and from what I can learn.
TSGNASHVILLE: Favorite Nashville holiday event to attend?
Wills: The Symphony Ball hit it out of the park this year with honoree Steven Tyler. Wow.
TSGNASHVILLE: Favorite local shops to visit while purchasing your holiday gifts for friends and family?
Wills: Epergne and Ash Blue.
TSGNASHVILLE: How would you and your family spend a December weekend in Nashville?
Wills: To be honest, it’s usually full on “rushing around!” However, by Christmas Eve, we attend mass at Christ Church Cathedral and then make our way over to the Oak Bar at the Hermitage Hotel, where we play games and toast the season. With special friends and dear family, we dine away the night at the Capitol Grill. Warm and heartfelt all the way around.
TSGNASHVILLE: Thank you Ridley! We hope you and your beautiful family have a very Merry Christmas!
This post is a reprint of an article that appeared in The Scout Guide of Nashville Tennessee