Bella Vista, Revisited

Premier Living

The Aultman Home

By Tory Irmeger | Photography by Bekah Berry/Creative Revolver


Beauty is best experienced when shared with friends and loved ones, and for Drew Aultman, her home is no exception to this. Fondly dubbed Bella Vista, this stately Italian country-style home features panoramic views, from the low-rolling hills in the east to the ribbon of the Tennessee River in the west. Sporting sand-colored Crab Orchard stone, red roof shingles, and a classical colonnade, Bella Vista instantly transports guests to a Mediterranean scene. This charm is what initially attracted Drew to the home.

large italian-style home in chattanooga

“I bought this house in 2020,” Drew says, “What I liked about it is that on the inside, it has lots of cozy, intimate spaces and nooks where you can sit and relax. It feels very lived in.” The house was built in the 1930s by the owners of Colonial Bakery, whose influence can still be seen in the bricks comprising the driveway that were reclaimed from the bread baking ovens.

After changing hands a few times, the house is now entrusted to the Aultman family, and Drew is excited to extend Bella Vista’s warm welcome to her parents, children, and grandchildren. “For me, this house offers an intimate space where people can gather and relax, because it’s all about getting together, making memories, and providing those spaces that allow for conversation and storytelling,” Drew says.

italian-style foyer with dark interiors

Stepping into the foyer, guests find themselves in a welcoming transitional space. To the left and right, seating vignettes offer a repose for warm conversation. Picture windows set against dark shiplap paneling make the room comfortable, yet airy. Furnishings tend towards the contemporary with a traditional flair, revealing the balance Drew strikes in updating the interiors while being conscious of the house’s history.

Proceeding directly through the set of wide doorframes, guests enter an open living and dining area. In contrast to the foyer, the shiplap paneling is painted in white to brighten the space. The living area features two velvety black sofas next to the hearth, while abstract paintings and textiles layer pops of blue, red, and gold against the room’s neutral color palette.

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aultman family

Drew Aultman (center), Hilsman & Alivia, Andrew & Katie, grandsons Anson and Holden, and Annie

Photo Courtesy of Drew Aultman/by Casey Yoshida

This open floor plan allows for seamless movement between spaces – perfect for Drew to host gatherings with family and friends. The formal dining area seats six parsons chairs as well as a lounge-worthy wall-to-wall sofa. One of Drew’s favorite family traditions includes gathering around the table at special occasions and passing around heirloom silver goblets engraved with major family milestones.

“We’ve been doing that now for three generations,” Drew says. “By reading the engravings, the younger generation learns about the older generation, and it’s fun to share that family history through the years.” 

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master bedroom with dark interior and wooden furnishings

The continuity of the house’s color palette extends to the master suite. Here, creamy linens and warm wooden furnishings offset the dark walls, creating a cozy repose. A claw-footed dresser and studded footboard bench evoke elements of traditional design while blending with modern light fixtures and abstract art.

master bedroom with dark interior and wooden furnishings

Abutting the master suite is a one of Drew’s favorite nooks in the house. This relaxing spot is complemented by a comfortable settee and northeastern picture windows that allow sunlight and mountain views.

coffee room with cozy neutral-colored furniture

“I call this my Coffee Room. I wake up, come in here to get my coffee, and have my reading time in the clouds.”

Drew Aultman

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contemporary kitchen with dark interiors and multiple rows of round mirrors

Beyond the dining area lies the kitchen, a room that has been completely reimagined from its original layout. Drew says, “When I bought this house, I had the task of renovating the kitchen. Even though it had been updated by previous owners, it still had the footprint of a kitchen built in the 30s – very small, no pantry. We opened the space up and added stainless-steel restaurant-style appliances to accommodate guests and entertaining.”

contemporary with dark wooden cabinets, bright walls and a double island

This modern space now features a double island with tufted barstools, as well as sleek inset cabinetry and two farmhouse sinks. Glassware is displayed in a distressed, ivory-colored cabinet trimmed with decorative carving. Drew points out that the rosettes carved into the cabinet are repeated throughout the house. The motif appears in the details of the columns on the porch as well as in glass flowers in the iron chandelier above the dining table.

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large italian-style backyard and pool in chattanooga

As welcoming as the interiors are, nothing beats an evening on the pool deck, taking in sunset views. “We practically live on the porch from spring until fall,” says Drew. “With the city lights below, this property is completely different at night.”

The porch is home to what Drew considers to be Bella Vista’s crowning glory: an iron gas lantern hand-forged by a New Orleans artisan. This “pendant” is an ode to the old-school charm sprinkled throughout the property. 

Steps away from the pool deck, decades-worth of wisteria grows over a pergola in an area Drew calls the Secret Garden. Here, she reveals another footnote from the past. “The trellises for the wisteria are bread baking racks from the Colonial bakeries,” she explains. The warped, weathered racks bolstering the thick vines are a testament to the decades of change this house has seen.

“You can see how each owner did something to add to the house in some way,” Drew says. “Bella Vista is truly a living, breathing work of art.”  

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