A Southside Renaissance

Builder: John Straussberger, The Strauss Company, Inc.
Architect: Jay Caughman, Caughman + Caughman Architects
Interior designer: Wheeler Lewis, Sophie’s Shoppe

It’s no secret that Chattanooga’s Southside has undergone a renaissance, and this freshly restored loft on a tree-lined Southside street has expertly married the past with the present. Originally built in the 1950s as a Chevrolet dealership, it’s easy to spot the nods to the structure’s industrial past and the beauty that lies in the brilliantly reimagined details.

By Candice Graham
Interior Photography by Philip Slowiak
Exterior Photography by Emily Long
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Understated Elegance

“We wanted the building to stand on its own without overshadowing what was already here. We wanted to work with it,” explains architect Jay Caughman. “It’s all understated and elegant, and there’s not just one thing that’s calling for your attention.”

Clean lines are a recurring theme throughout the loft, and the staircase is a prime example. Reinforcement steel runs horizontally, creating a sleek look with unobstructed sightlines. A look of continuity was created by repetition – like in the wood on the stairs and the kitchen island. Warm wood tones are brought through in the furniture, and even in subtle décor features like the lamp and chair bases.

“We did a lot of research with our target market to decide what colors and finishes to use throughout the loft. Everything was carefully chosen,” explains John Straussberger, owner of The Strauss Company, Inc. See more from The Strauss Company at straussco.com.

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Anchored by tranquil tones and mid-century modern furniture, the common areas are offset by true floor-to-ceiling windows. The original windows were saved, sandblasted, and installed in the loft master bedroom to allow natural light to extend into the room. “They let light filter in to all areas of the loft,” adds Straussberger.

“Everything we did, we did to retain the flavor of its industrial past,” Caughman says. “We kept the exposed brick, steel beams, spacious windows, and tall ceilings.” The exposed brick was painted white, allowing the steel windows and beam more prominence. Minimal furniture, like a leather sofa and weathered rug, let the building’s structure be the star.

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“I like taking stuff nobody really pays attention to and figuring out how to repurpose it into something new. I don’t think you’ll find another loft like this in Chattanooga. I like the uniqueness of it.”

– John Straussberger, The Strauss Company


 Creamy white walls, inspired by interior designer Wheeler Lewis of Sophie’s Shoppe, create a backdrop for strong design details. “The bones of the building are very industrial in style, so I wanted to keep everything very simple and modern to give it that modern industrial look,” she says.

Reclaimed wood adds a natural element, and concrete counters and floors harken back to the building’s past. Custom cabinets in the kitchen feature pullout drawers to streamline storage space, and bunched pendant lights illuminate the bar. An unexpected color-pop is found in the form of a built-in bookcase with jewel-toned books.

Appliances and plumbing fixtures: Ferguson
Cabinetry: Cabeen Originals
Countertops: Set in Stone   
Tile: Alexander Tile
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The upstairs lofted bedroom is serene in its simplicity. Above the bed a beam plays two roles – an exposed design element and a shelf for framed photos. A gray duvet and a plush white rug add warmth and texture, and rich wooden floors feature a mix of colors from amber to goldenrod. The mid-century look is continued in the bedroom, represented by modern furniture with hairpin legs.

Subway tiles laid in a herringbone pattern make for an artistic focal point in the bathroom. White walls let the marble countertop and chic framed mirror shine.

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Blue skies can be seen for miles on the private rooftop. Futuristic hanging chairs with citrus-colored cushions offer an ideal spot to sip a cocktail. Wraparound cushioned benches can accommodate a crowd, as can a nearby table with bench seating. With mountains in the background and the urban heartbeat of Southside below, this rooftop hideaway offers the best of both worlds.

“Most of what you see on this street started developing 20 years ago, so this building was really the last corner to renovate,” said Straussberger. “It turns out the best use for this space was residential. It’s funny the way it works out.”

Other Suppliers:
Concrete flooring: Concrete Surfaces, LLC
Lighting: SESCO Electric
Lighting design: Lytestyles
Windows: Chattanooga Glass
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