An Image of Italy

By Alexandra Hruz
Photography by Med Dement

“A new home that looks old”—that was the challenge presented when plans began for this visually stunning Tuscan-style residence.

Architect: Louis Wamp Architect & Associates, Inc.
Interior design: Karen Payne Interior Design & Consulting
Contractor: Helton Construction

During the two-year building process for this North Chattanooga property, curious passersby often asked about the home they assumed was being renovated. The real story? This stately residence is a new build, but because it blends so seamlessly into the lush environment and its design mimics centuries-old Italian homes, it fools many into thinking it has been a neighborhood staple for decades, if not centuries.

From the wide-sweeping drive, the Old World Tuscan feel of the home is evident—lofty beams highlight gray stone and heavy wooden doors with iron detailing welcome visitors. From the entryway, guests are immediately immersed in the rich Italian feel, and it’s obvious that a meticulous attention to detail was put into every aspect of the home, from the pine beams to the light fixtures to the slightly textured walls.

“The homeowners have traveled quite a bit, and they knew they wanted an Italian-style home,” interior designer Karen Payne says. “The goal was to create a new home but have it look old.”


To the right of the entry is a library, lined with tomes and richly appointed with leather chairs. A finely crafted fi replace is a focal point in the room, and three arched windows allow light to stream in. Opposite the library are double doors that open to the side patio and outdoor area.

Continuing down the main hallway, a magnificent hand-built oak staircase includes risers and treads stained in differing shades. The iron handrails have a distinct art-deco pattern. The stairs lead visitors to the upper levels of the home. A small powder room off the main hall extends the “new home, old feel” trend, with subway tile and vintage-inspired fixtures.

ItalyFrom the hallway, the main living space opens to the left. Beautifully crafted pine and cedar beams highlight vaulted ceilings, and a host of wood-trimmed windows surround the space. A limestone fireplace stretches from floor to ceiling, and large lighting pieces, including a graceful iron chandelier and Italian-style sconces, provide a warm yellow-tinged glow to the sumptuous-feeling room. Several of the furniture pieces are heirloom items, including two high-back chairs covered in a deep red velvet fabric.

From the living room, the open floor plan stretches into the kitchen, creating an open and inviting space for cooking, eating, and entertaining. Dark soapstone counters contrast perfectly with crisp white cabinetry, while stainless steel appliances bring a modern edge to the room. A staircase is tucked away to the left of the kitchen, leading up to a children’s playroom and down to a man cave and media space.

“The family likes to cook, and they like the space being very open,” Payne says. “So that’s the way we designed it. Nothing is in between, just one big family space.” Although it’s new construction, exposed brick walls in the kitchen tell a different story. The design plan for the home incorporated an old carriage house that was part of the original property.

“The carriage house was here, and the homeowners wanted to include it in the design,” architect Louis Wamp says. “We love to save pieces like that if we can. We built the new home off the existing structure.”

An alcove with a wet bar leads from the kitchen to the dining room. More exposed brick from the carriage house is showcased here, and large windows allow natural lighting to highlight rich appointments in the room. Coffered ceilings, an exquisite architectural touch, add interest from above.

Down the hallway is a laundry room that includes the home’s elevator as well as stairs to the lower level. The master suite sits at the end of the hall and is a luxurious space for relaxation and serenity. Herringbone- patterned wood floors and wide wood crown molding bring warmth to the room. A sitting area leads into the main bedroom area through sliding wood doors. The vintage-inspired bath features subway tiles and a large soaking tub, perfect for a spa-style retreat.

Back in the main foyer and moving upstairs, the trend of old-fashioned touches in a brand-new space continues. A picture rail, a feature used traditionally in homes with crumbly, mortar walls, allows for family photos to be on display without the hassle of nail holes. On this level of the home, simply styled rooms for children and a perfectly appointed guest suite are found, and while each of the rooms features a distinctive design, they all maintain the vintage-inspired feel of the whole home.

Up one final turn of the stairs is what is possibly the most unique aspect of the home—a belvedere with 360 degree views. This feature is most commonly seen in Italian architecture, and it allows for air to flow through all parts of the home from the top down. On a clear day, scenic sightlines stretch to Missionary Ridge and the Tennessee River. The room was scrupulously crafted, as the perfectly aligned stair-stepped windows show.

“On a lot of properties, you’ll do something for the first time and maybe the only time in your career. And this is one of them for me,” Wamp says.

From the original carriage house walls to the hand-crafted beams, each aspect of this home is a testament to high-class architecture and an attention to detail—a new home with an old Italian soul.


Home Suppliers:

Appliances: Ferguson

AV, security: Smarthomes Chattanooga

Cabinetry: Ana Woodworks

Cabinet design: Laura Hertle

Closets: Creekside Closets

Doors and trim: Cox Interior

Electric: Adman Electric

Electrical contractor: Apex Electric

HVAC and geothermal: Conditionaire Company Inc.

Iron: Morse Metalworks

Masonry, brick, fireplaces: Randy Stephens Construction

Plumbing fixtures: Ferguson

Staircase and beamwork: Brian Hamas

Stone and fireplaces: Architectural Elements

Surveying and Civil Engineering: Earthworx, LLC

Tile and granite: Stone Source

Trim installation: Aaron Conrad, DunLora

Windows and exterior doors: Kolbe Windows

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