Urban Cowboy Air B&B
A smartly designed bed-and-breakfast lands in East Nashville via Brooklyn.
Written By: Sarah Rowland
Photographers: Ben Fitchett
Trendy Brooklyn, New York, bed-and-breakfast, Urban Cowboy, was founded by Manhattan real estate agent and former hockey player Lyon Porter. It all began as a four-room rustic cabin in Williamsburg. “I really designed the first Cowboy in Brooklyn as a passion project and creative outlet,” Porter says.
After visiting Nashville for a weekend getaway, Porter knew it was the city for a second location.
“We’d been hearing about Nashville from a lot of our guests, and one guest told me I had to meet Ruthie Lindsey, who’s a Nashville stylist. She’s almost like the mayor of Nashville,” Porter says. “We ended up staying at her house, and she got us whiskey, chocolates, and threw us a party. It was so amazing.”
Just a few hours into the trip, Porter and his partner and general manager, Jersey Banks, took a drive around East Nashville to explore. “We came across this big Victorian house, so I knocked on the door and spoke to the owner. We knew instantly this was the next location for Urban Cowboy,” Porter says. He purchased the Queen Anne home, located just blocks from the Five Points commercial strip, and immediately started thinking about the design aesthetic.
“In terms of the design process, I really love symmetry. So I’m calling the Nashville space “Southwestern Deco,” because I’ve mixed Southwestern and Deco styles but within a Victorian mansion,” Porter says. “Victorians have no symmetry. The bay windows are all different sizes, the doors are off, one parlor doesn’t match up with the other. Because of this, it all took on a really interesting form.”
Nashville woodworker Patrick Hayes, from 1767 Designs, worked with Porter to materialize his unique vision for the space. “Patrick and I collaborated on all the design work. We played with the Deco idea and had an amazing collaborative experience as designer and maker,” Porter says. The two made an entire 12-foot wall out of copper and wood, as well as bed frames and custom headboards for each room. “Every piece of copper is hand-wrapped around a piece of wood that’s then hand-beaten to givte it texture. We were literally burning pieces of wood with a blow torch. It was a labor of love,” Porter says. “And Patrick has an amazing ability to listen to my insanity and actually put it into production.”
Clint Van Gemert, of Printsburgh, worked with Porter to create custom wallpaper for the space. “To complement the inconsistencies and beautiful imperfections, I brought Clint in. He’s not from Nashville, but he understood the Southwestern-Deco look we were going for,” Porter says. “It was almost like jazz between the three of us. Clint would create this custom paper design, and then Patrick would reference those patterns for a headboard or something else. They’re both musically talented, so we had this really interesting trio going. We were really riffing off of each other.”
Whether in Brooklyn or Nashville, Porter considers Urban Cowboy to be a shared space—it’s not a hotel, nor a bar or restaurant. It’s a communal area for everyone to use, love, and enjoy. That’s the very heart of Urban Cowboy’s ethos. “I lived in hotels for a long time playing hockey, and I really wanted this to feel like home. We wanted Nashville to have an amazing shared environment, so we made this incredible music parlor. Music is the blood and DNA of Nashville, so everyone comes by and just starts fiddling on the piano or strums a guitar. It’s about the experience,” he says.
Running the bed-and-breakfast, Porter acts as more than a businessman. He often eats breakfast with guests, and he invites them to dinner parties, yoga classes, and barbecues. (He’s also known to keep a large stock of community rosé in the refrigerator.)
“We’ve absolutely fallen in love with the city, primarily because of the people. They’re so good, kind, and genuine,” he says. “They’ve show us true Southern hospitality, and that’s the same feeling we want guests to have at Urban Cowboy Nashville.”