Songwriter Session: Chris Janson
Singer-songwriter Chris Janson will perform, offer insight into his creative process, and share stories behind songs from his new album, Everybody. Janson wrote his singles
Multiple winding roads lead to the Tomlin family home on the outskirts of Franklin. Located on 25 rolling acres, the house is set right against against a tree line and is a respite for Chris Tomlin, his wife Lauren, and their two daughters, Madison (2), and Ashlyn (5).
The place offers a stark contrast to what Chris, an award-winning contemporary Christian singer and songwriter, finds on the road, especially when he’s (easily) selling out Madison Square Garden and other iconic venues. Regularly surrounded by the thunderous sound of applause, Chris finds respite here in Franklin.
“There’s a tranquility to the place, so we named it Peacefield,” Chris says, noting that the second President of the United States, John Adams, called his farm Peacefield. “I always loved that name.”
Chris initially found Peacefield through a random internet search—it wasn’t even on the market. Still, he and Lauren visited it. “He was misty-eyed,” Lauren says. “It moved him. And I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Because that’s only been at our wedding or when our children were born. [But] he was captured by the beauty of that moment.” So they sent the owners a letter pleading to buy the place. After many months of courtship, the house and land was theirs.
A weatherworn barn and split-rail fences, turned silvery-gray with age, sit at the property’s edge. Viewing the home’s exterior, Chris says he loves the timeless stonework and the cedar shake roof. Inside is the unexpected: a pre-Civil War cabin from Kentucky that was disassembled and reassembled by a prior owner, its rough-hewn planks held together by the distinctive “chinking” mortar found in cabins of its era..
“This would have been a settler’s cabin [and] it would have been the whole house,” Chris says while standing in the midst of the one-room cabin with a sleeping loft.
Lauren has filled the space with her family heirlooms: an antique china cabinet, silver and the delicate Wedgwood china pattern of Appledore. “They never fit in our previous homes, but here they just feel right,” Lauren says. Nashville interior designer Rachel Halvorson helped Lauren soften the rusticity of the cabin with well-chosen décor. In a corner sits a piano Chris found, an upright 1901 Steinway.
The new portion of the home is carefully conceived to flow with the same aesthetic as the cabin, and carry it beyond. For example, the sitting room features a low ceiling accented with thick wooden beams. Wooden pegs can be seen in the decorative woodwork in the master bedroom, and Venetian plaster walls evoke authenticity. All of the home’s widows are made of single-pane glass. There’s no drywall; walls are either ship-lapped or finished in a textural way.
“There’s a beauty to the way it’s built,” Chris explains.