No longer known solely for its "honky-tonk" vibe, Nashville has been flaunting some haute design over the past few years. Add The Dive Motel & Swim Club to the mix. Open since summer 2019 — from Lyon Porter and Jersey Banks, the brains behind Urban Cowboy in Brooklyn and Nashville — the process into hip-hotel status required a top-to-bottom renovation of a sad, dilapidated old motel.
"It needed a full gut to the studs," says Porter, the hotel's owner and designer. This included expanding the common area by taking out a few guest rooms, building a new pool (the original had been filled in with dirt and tire — not exactly swimmable!), adding vintage wallpaper and wood paneling, and hiring local painters (Meg and Stinky of I Saw the Sign) to hand-paint walls. Bobbi Rich, a former story and field producer for TV shows like American Pickers, helped with sourcing found objects and the motel's ideation.
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The thoughtful reboot of this 1956 motel's 23 rooms allowed retro flair to shine — in a good way. "It was built in the heyday of motels and perfectly positioned on the old Dixie Highway. You could take a straight shot to Florida with the family and stop in Nashville on the way, get an affordable room, and take a dip in the pool," he says.
The thematic rooms each have their own retro-kitsch flair. In this room, wood paneling and groovy stripes go full-on 1970s.
In the motel's penthouse, midcentury mod vibes reign with aqua blue fiberglass chairs, perky green carpeting, and sculptural shelving.
In this guest room, a kitschy mural and cabin-inspired decor channel the feel of vintage travel postcards.
Instagram is practically begging you to make use of this glam, '70s-inspired room, complete with a disco ball, pale-pink shag bedspread, and silhouette motifs on the walls.
A custom "party switch" in each room will activate a disco ball and "Dive Radio," which has four channels: Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Sleep.
Retro hues like chocolate brown and goldenrod were also incorporated into the pool area.
Vinyl avocado-colored chairs, checkerboard floor tile, and an orange Scandinavian-style wood-burning stove dial the motel's bar (called Dive Bar) back to the 1960s and '70s.