Maximalism on Display at Graduate Hotel Nashville

Many people are loving a clean, minimalist look for their homes. But then there are others who are embracing a completely different kind of aesthetic. Maximalism is an unapologetic love for mixing and melding all the things they love, no matter how quirky. I can’t wait to share some inspiration from my visit to the Graduate Hotel Nashville!

Maximalism on Display at Graduate Hotel Nashville by The Decorologist

For Christmas, our very thoughtful daughters gifted Mr. Man and me with a one-night getaway to the new Graduate Hotel Nashville. The reservation was for the day after New Year’s Day, and we were uncertain whether we would still be able to stay there after the shocking bombing in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning. One of the buildings that was destroyed was where my husband and I first met, and another was one a music studio where he worked for several years in our early marriage. Fortunately the Graduate Hotel is not in the heart of downtown, and we were able to have our special night there afterall.

Graduate Hotel marquee in Nashville


One of the things I’ve missed most in 2020 is soaking up inspiration from visiting and touring design-forward places. I can appreciate almost any style or historical period of design. That doesn’t mean I’d want to live in that style myself. But I have to admit, it would be a whole lot of big fun to live in the Graduate Hotel! In fact, in addition to hosting tourists and out-of-towners, this hotel offers sophisticated living for many college students who study at the many nearby universities.

Minnie Pearl art at Graduate Hotel Nashville


The lobby of Graduate Hotel Nashville is a visual feast. It’s difficult to take it all in, and I was hesitant to go straight to our room before walking around and processing all that I saw! The massive Minnie Pearl piece is masterpiece in textile art, and the neon sign is the original from the James K Polk Motel in Columbia, TN.

neon sign in Graduate Hotel Nashville


Here’s the view from the top of the tiered, theatre-style seating in the lobby. We had afternoon coffee at the top of the staircase of vintage sofas while perusing vintage coffee table books.

vintage sofas on tiered theatre-styled lobby


Here’s a professional shot from Graduate Hotel Nashville’s website. If I were a grad student in Nashville right now, THIS is where I’d be hanging out to do homework! Because I’ve lived in Nashville all my life, I knew immediately that the Taco Bell and Checkers art display wasn’t as random as one might think. It actually pays homage to the businesses that previously stood on this very spot!

taco bell and checkers art in graduate hotel nashville


Maximalism scares most people – it’s a bold choice that can illicit consternation from the more serious-minded. Maximalism can be executed in varying degrees, of course. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your home is chocked full of knicknacks and haphazard furnishings. More often, true maximalism design is a careful curation of furnishings with true personality and an artful blending of patterns and fabrics.

butterfly wallpaper


Graduate Hotel Nashville includes a heavy dose of country music kitsch. I mean, Nashville IS Music City. Abstract Dolly Partons are featured in the hallways, while more true-to-life representations hang over many of the beds (as you will see shortly).

dolly parton abstract art at Graduate Hotel NashvilleDolly + Mickey


Dolly Parton abstract in Graduate HotelDolly + Spongebob??


Let me take you upstairs to our room so you can get a glimpse of the mash-up of maximalism there. The tagline for this hotel is “We are all students.” Kinda clever, although not always understood.  I overheard several people take it quite literally, asking the employees if they were all college students (haha)! By the way, they were not.

room number sign at graduate hotel


Dolly Parton painting over bed in Graduate Hotel Nashville


Our room was overtly twee (you may want to look that up), and I loved it! Sweet and sassy, with splashes of throwback Dorothy Draper and Laura Ashley. Oh, and COMFIEST BED EVER!

dorothy draper inspired design


Whoever designed this room had no fear of mismatched patterns and color combinations. I found it to be absolutely delightful!  I NEED this pillow:

floral animal print bird pillow


Cabana stripes, pinstripes, mini-florals, and tribal patterns play together around a view of iconic West End buildings. It’s the kind of room that probably has fun even when no one is there . . .

view from Graduate Hotel Nashville


kitsch country music art


Ok, it may be just too much for you to live in on the daily. But for a fun weekend away? Absolutely! I loved all the little details – especially these squirrel drawer pulls:

squirrel drawer pulls


Check out the country music take on a federal style, eagle motif, convex mirror:

guitar eagle mirror


If you decide to visit, be sure to check out the Limozeen restaurant at the tippy-top of the Graduate Hotel Nashville. It actually has a rooftop pool where you can lounge as you eat, but it was FREEZING the night we stayed there. Isn’t Mr. Man dreamy with all the glam in the background?

Limozeen restaurant Nashville

limozeen in downtown nashvilleportrait gallery in Limozeen restaurant


Even the bathrooms are fun! I always feel a little creepy taking photos in ladies rooms, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

bathroom at Limozeen


Ok, just a few shoefies before I close out this post. Not at all about my shoes, just about the flooring!

persian carpet at graduate hotel

terrazzo flooring

tribal carpet

Maximalism on Display at Graduate Hotel Nashville

There are a bunch of Graduate Hotels across the country, all with their own unique themes. I think I’ll make a point to visit them all when travel gets back to normal. Doesn’t that sound fun? Pin the image above if you want to do the same!

I hope you enjoyed the tour of Graduate Hotel Nashville. I have to know what you think, for good or for bad. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Believe me, there is still a lot to see – I highly recommend it for a romantic night with your main squeeze or even a fun night with the girls. Let them know I sent ya! 😉


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  1. Melissa Raines

    I love it! Bathroom wallpaper looks like Arty by Pierre Frey.

    • Kristie Barnett

      I think you would love spending a night in this hotel! It even has a karaoke bar with vintage animatronics (when masks can come off, of course).

  2. Lissa

    I love it too! Charm and humor and very more is more.

  3. Michelle Walker

    No thank you. It is just WAY too much visual stimulation for my tastes. That bathroom is SO overwhelming. But if you honor Dolly in multiple portraits then you can’t be all bad!

  4. Mary Zeilinger

    Awe, so glad you and MR. had a getaway

  5. Paula Ryan Designs

    Love this…My daughter lives there now, I will put this on my list to stay (at least one night) on a visit. It’s cute that your kids gave you a “staycation” gift!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Yes, you should definitely stay a night or two – so fun to see!

  6. Laura

    Kristie, You must have felt like a kid in a candy store during your stay! So much to take in! This makes me want to be a grad student again. I did not live like these students do haha! My favorites are the raspberry pink room, the vintage neon signs, those adorable squirrel pulls, and the lighting throughout. The Laura Ashley fabrics were a nice surprise! I decorate my guest room with the Laura Ashley linens and curtains that my girls grew up with. They’re so pretty and of such great quality, I haven’t been able to part with them. Maybe I need that leopard print pillow to update the look! I’m glad you and your sweetie were able to get away. What a thoughtful gift from your girls! If you visit more Graduate Hotels, do share. I think it would be a fun mix of clientele on top of the cool decor.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Yes, definitely like a kid in the candy store. I’m sure I was walking around with my mouth hanging open – but of course no one could tell behind the mask, haha! Like you, I cannot even imagine living in a place like this in COLLEGE. I still remember the Laura Ashley store in the Green Hills Mall in Nashville when I was in college . . . I’m not sure I ever bought anything there (I couldn’t afford it), but I always had to walk through it and look around. That Laura Ashley look is certainly making a comeback – all the peasant/prairie look in fashion takes me back in the day . . .

  7. Sandy

    A great post ! BTW you would love a tour of the English countryside. Somehow the B&B-multi-pattern style seems related, just w/o the country touches…

    • Kristie Barnett

      Oh Sandy, my favorite place in the world is the Cotswolds! So much charm, such a mixture of patterns and textures in those beautiful old homes. 🙂

  8. Nancy Mueller

    My favorite thing in all the pictures is the bathroom wallpaper.

  9. Mary Burchette

    What a fun and funky place!! I’d like to visit sometime, but I’m not sure the hubs would go for it, lol!! 😄 Thanks for sharing ~ I can at least live vicariously through you, ha ha! 😉

    • Kristie Barnett

      Mary, not many husbands would, haha!!! But maybe for one night, right? 😉

  10. Maxine Bennett

    Wonderful visual stimulation! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Susie

    It’s a hard no for me! It’s way too visually busy for me. However, I love that you love it! I’m so happy that you and Mr. Man had a nice getaway.

  12. Dianne Tant

    BEST blogpost! so enjoyed this.

  13. cheryl

    Wow – I’ve stayed at a Graduate in Minneapolis and it was also fun, like a Northwoods cabin! And the room cards were the yearbook photos of famous Minnesotans – like Mary Tyler Moore 🙂 Loved the nods and winks of humour in the Nashville design and especially loved your shoefies (i do the same and was calling them footsies) the western boots in the carpet are adorable !!! Just discovered your blog and am so inspired – thank you !!!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Wow, that sounds fun! I’d love to visit all of the Graduate Hotels across the country, that would be cool!


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