By Katie Faulkner
Photos by Beacon Imagery
This enchanting Victorian home on Chattanooga’s East 5th Street received a masterful revival in 2015. Homeowners Kathryn Nash and Benjamin Phillips endeavored to keep the Queen Anne-style home’s integral touches intact while adding some modern renovations for functionality’s sake. The result is a fresh, inspiring, open space with artistic accents that beautifully balance the preserved authentic features.
Walking up to the gabled, white two-story on such a historic street, it’s easy to see why Ben and Kathryn were eager to buy it when it hit the market in 2014. “We lived in the house on the corner. We love this street, love the area, love the people. And my goal for the past five years has been to be able to walk everywhere and have a pool. Downtown, that’s hard, but we finally found it!” After nine months of remodeling from the ground up, their dream home was ready.
The gray-washed, roomy front sitting porch is just one of the many inviting areas of the home. Wide-windowed French front doors adorned with cotton-ball wreaths (in truly authentic Southern verve) beckon you inside. This visually accessible entryway is reflective of the entire house’s open, airy, and amply windowed interiors. It’s also an amazingly close mimic of the home’s original front doors, which now rest on sliding tracks in front of the master bathroom. They weren’t in good enough condition to serve as the main front doors anymore, but Kathryn says they loved them too much to toss. “We’re really big on repurposing, and they work so well up there now.”
Once inside, one of the most notable accomplishments of the renovation is likely the first thing guests will notice – what was once a standard 1880s era house, choppily divided room-by-room, is now an inviting open floor plan with widened door casings that allow the entire first floor to flow seamlessly together.
Just inside the door, off to the right, is the front parlor. Filled with instruments – an upright bass, a banjo, a baby grand piano, and a guitar – this room is where Ben and Kathryn spend time practicing one of their favorite hobbies. Plus, an iconic restoration from the 1885 house is the home’s original fireplace, showcased in this front room. Now revitalized and flanked by green velvet fan-back accent chairs, all of the brick from the fireplace’s hearth and mantle had to be removed before it could be refurbished. “The weight of all the brick was literally pulling the house down,” Kathryn says. But they found an even better resting place for it – in the herringbone-patterned brick patio surrounding the new pool out back.
The parlor’s musician-worthy style is capped off by a lovely rattan back settee with a cut velvet damask-patterned cushion in shades of black and slate gray paired with a cowhide rug and colorful paintings.
Funky industrial light fixtures compliment the ‘Queen Anne meets modern style’ feel throughout the home. All of the light fixtures were locally sourced, while other pieces of interest were hand-salvaged from the home’s original materials during the demo. “We tried to really save as many of the older parts that we were pulling out as possible,” Kathryn explains. “The floors were too damaged though. So our contractor actually found these in a warehouse downtown. They’re from the same era.” The 130-year-old heart pine floors were milled and kiln-dried in Jamestown, Tennessee, to replicate the original flooring. All of the pine walls were pulled down and re-planed to be used in the custom kitchen cabinetry and the hospitably over-sized dining room table perched on white hide rugs, crowned by a chandelier. Old roof panels and corners of the original window moulding were saved and hung as architectural décor.
On the main floor, dozens of windows soak the pale pallet of raw heart pine in natural light, breathing fresh life throughout. The living room and kitchen flow cohesively together, with the kitchen’s minimalist style never detracting from the home’s sightlines. Crisp white marble and subway tiles top light pine cabinetry, all punctuated by clean stainless appliances and open shelving that houses clear glassware and stainless mixing bowls.
A second custom fireplace reminiscent of the 1880s anchors the center of the home with old-fashioned honey-comb tiles that are also used in each bathroom. Spicing up the spectrum, two hot pink velvet accent chairs encase the fireplace, creating the conversational circle of the room. Looking through the windows out back, your eyes are treated first to a gorgeous view of the serene pool, complete with sun-shelf and hot tub, and then to a downtown street in front of the backdrop of Lookout Mountain. “This is definitely where we spend the most time,” Ben says, eyes toward the backyard. “The pool has been a favorite hangout. For us, our nieces and nephews, everybody. It’s just a great place to grill and hangout,” he continues.
The unique millwork of the staircase is another original feature saved and revamped. Upstairs, two generously sized bedrooms sit beside each other down an extra-wide hallway. Each room has a lovely, mostly white and tiled bathroom and walk-in closet. The hallway is cloaked in a painting collage wall – some of which are Kathryn Nash originals. At the end of the hall is the stunning, simplistic master bed and bath. Light pine flooring, a gray sateen sleigh bed, fluffy white linens, and spectacular mountain views are only a portion of this cozy, Zen fantasy. The original windowed French doors of the home slide apart to reveal the master bath. White honeycomb, subway tile, and marble counters are the backdrop for a stately and enticing claw-foot bathtub.
From the master bedroom’s private balcony, you can view the pool and, further back, the fire pit. Also, another statement piece can be seen clearly – the large metal sign hung down the side of the carriage house. “The carriage house is great because we can store all of our toys in there. We love this city and this house’s location because we can always find somewhere to listen to bluegrass or go biking or kayaking,” says Ben.
Walking through, there’s no mistaking that you’re in the home of artists. Every piece has purpose and a story. Every color, texture, and choice is intentional, inspired by a common theme that flows like the authentic heart pine flooring—seamlessly throughout. For Kathryn and Ben, the process of resurrecting this home was just as fulfilling as the time they’ve spent enjoying the result.