Hound Dog Commons is Nashville’s living room for creatives

Brett Barr has a forest green 1970s Volkswagen bus parked inside his living room.

Yes, inside.

A few feet away from the sliding passenger door a fire crackles in his antique wood burning stove. At the rear of the bus, clumps of dried-up clay cake the top of a potters wheel. Across the room, a vinyl spins on a record player. Outside, two chickens in a coop glance through the living room window while they cluck and peck the ground.

Welcome to Barr’s living room: Hound Dog Commons.

But besides a renovated, 2,000-square-foot garage on the west side of Cleveland Park, what exactly is Hound Dog Commons?

Well, the Hound Dog Commons founder is still trying to figure that out.

“I don’t know,” Barr said with a laugh. “I really don’t know.”

It’s vintage, it’s eclectic, it’s co-working and event space. It’s also simply a place to hang.

“It’s kind of like a big community living room,” he said.

Oh, and dogs are allowed, too. (That’s evident by the name, and the doggy door leading out to the 13,000-square-foot dog yard.)

Creative living room

Members can bring their four-legged friends to Hound Dog Commons while they kick back on couches or create. From wood-working and welding classes to painting and pottery, the vision for the space is only limited to the vision of those who want to use it.

“It’s really for anybody that feels that utilizing the space could help them with their career or creativity,” he said.

Membership is broken down into three categories: commons member, hound dog and vendor member.

Starting at $30 for six months, membership privileges include 24-hour access to Hound Dog Commons.

Along with collaborating, working, learning and playing, members also can rent out the building for events, weddings, concerts and more.

Compared with other creative co-working spaces in Nashville, the community’s vendor members add something special to the space. Hound Dog Commons’ vendors are a mixture of artists, musicians, collectors and creators. Whether it’s for consignment or sales or to teach classes to other members, vendor members can utilize the space however they wish.

“I wanted a place that I could manage on my own. I can’t really afford an employee and I don’t want an employee,” Barr said. “So the idea is that the vendor members will eventually take ownership of the space and hopefully they can find a way to make money for themselves while doing it.”

While vendors primarily use the main building, or living room, for classes, a separate skill-sharing space is housed in an old gas station next door to the community living room. Inside, stacks of reclaimed wood lean against the building’s foggy pane glass windows. It’s here where members can schedule a time with Barr to learn the basics of DIY crafting, woodworking and welding.

Room to grow

After extensive renovations, Barr opened up his unique East Nashville living room to the community in September. The space and name were inspired by his 14-year-old Bassett hound named Charlie, who died in the building shortly before it opened.

Two months later, Hound Dog Commons now has 74 members and Barr feels he has room for an additional 150.

And while membership continues to grow, the space’s concept continues to evolve.

For example, that VW bus parked inside isn’t just for looks. It doubles as an indoor campsite.

Barr recently got the idea to start renting out the bus, and the space, for $150 per night.

Guests can curl up inside the bus and pop in a classic movie on Barr’s 35 mm projector while the antique fireplace quietly hisses. Indoor camping packages can be customized. Popcorn, hot tea and a bottle of wine are included.

The experience has been dubbed “urban camping.”

“One of the things we’re trying to do here is to figure out what works. And we tweak things based on what people want instead of what we think they want,” Barr said. “We just want cool people doing cool stuff here.”