Dixie Carter at Home in Nashville
An insider’s look at the TNA powerhouse’s family retreat on Hillsboro Road.
Written By: Stephanie Stewart-Howard
Photographers: Shannon Fontaine
Much of Nashville still recognizes Dixie Carter from her high-powered career as a music rep, but over the past decade she’s made a serious business out of TNA Wrestling, and she loves every minute of it. The couple were living in Brentwood, and happy with their neighborhood, but like many couples decided to take a look at what was on the market, “just to see.” After finding the home of former owner, singer LeAnn Rimes, Carter and husband Serg Salinas and their two children moved from Brentwood to their current home just south of Green Hills at the end of 2009. The next six weeks or so were spent making renovations before they could move in.
“We moved in on a Wednesday, and I think we hosted a Christmas party for more than 100 people on Friday,” recalls Carter with a rueful smile. Still, she wouldn’t have it any other way. The family, including daughter Reese (7) and son Tanner (6), plus a dog and a couple of cats, has settled happily into the place, making it their very own.
The house on Hillsboro Pike, however, seemed perfect. The husband and wife duo couldn’t find anything else they liked as much—and the notion of “warmth” really played into that. At the time, they were heading to Ireland for a tour with TNA, and ventured across the pond a little early to celebrate their anniversary. Staying at the gorgeous Ashford Castle, the pair wined and dined to celebrate. “The whole night felt a little surreal,” says Carter with a smile. “We were drinking great wine, and we decided to be brave and just do it, go ahead and buy the house. We immediately texted our realtor, Eric Grassman and said ‘draw up the papers.”
“We looked at a lot of beautiful, grand homes,” says Carter, sitting in the warmth of what she calls her “chapel” room, which carries a hint of Gilded Age hunting lodge with its elegant dark ceiling beams, fireplace and rich textured fabrics. “But they all seemed too ostentatious, not personal or warm enough.”
Carter and Salinas worked with Debra Kurdi at Sprintz to find specific pieces that would pair with the furniture they already owned, but did the primary decorating themselves. The family gave rooms in the house nicknames as they were packing boxes in their old home. Tanner gave the chapel it’s moniker, wandering in (then just about 2 1/2 years old) and looking around what the couple had dubbed the “Playboy” room, gazing in awe at the ceiling and saying, “Wow, Mom, the chapel.” The name stuck, and here Serg and Dixie escape, greet adult guests, Serg works on songs, and it’s the place Dixie first met with Hulk Hogan (she tells me most professional wrestlers are incredibly nice people, which really isn’t hard to believe).
The house is large, but exceptionally livable. The downstairs area connects cleanly, moving smoothly from kitchen to den to a beautiful outdoor living space. With three acres, the outdoors is crucial. Complete with creek, field (where there may one day be a pool and casita) and lush trees—and plenty of wildlife—the stunning porch with its pergola and neutral furniture is the perfect place to escape from the busy world, even in the heart of Nashville. Bright pops of turquoise keep it feeling cool, and plenty of shade plus the southwest exposure make it comfortable.
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There’s a formal living room at the front of the house, that Carter says is almost “wasted” it’s used so rarely, but it once served as Rimes’ music room, and it still has a good vibe (it’s where the family Christmas tree is always set up, and Reese and Tanner have puppet shows in here). The family makes more use of the large family room off the kitchen, once a “zen” space for Rimes, but now a fresh, cozy, Texas-style space (Carter hails from Dallas originally) with plenty of comfortable furniture, every part of it well used by the family. Carter says if she were to make changes to the house, they’d probably start by adding more windows here. It also boasts the homes only real fireplace, the other three are gas.
Across the hall is a great laundry room the couple once planned to turn into a bar, but now they find is truly a functional part of household living. The old downstairs master suite only occasionally gets slept in, but the family makes use of the vast bath and walk-in closets daily. It’s really the only bathroom in the house that gets serious traffic, and they love it as a family space. The closets are truly dreamy, and there’s the added advantage of upstairs storage space off the big bonus room, so that Dixie and Serg can switch out seasonal wardrobes with relative ease.
In the bedroom, a spacious bed, gas fireplace and wonderful coffered ceilings make for a terrific space, but it’s not so large it’s overwhelming. Carter tells me once the children are older, the couple may migrate back down here again. Meanwhile, they make use of a very pleasant guest suite upstairs near the children’s rooms, at least for sleeping. Both bedrooms are done primarily in browns and neutrals with pops of deeper color, which seems to be a Dixie Carter signature.
Serge and Dixie have taken a very large home and turned it into something intimate, family-centric and warm—their ultimate goal. While it’s perfect for inviting guests for parties or work necessity, it’s also the place you want to go to escape the outside world, and feel as though you’re free of care and commitment. And that’s what a home truly should be.