Condo Customization

When Larry and Jill Hill bought their condo three years ago, they were looking for a low maintenance lifestyle and downtown living. Wanting a home they could make their own, they purchased the space as an unfinished shell. Now it’s customized to perfection –  the home they dreamed it could be.

By Candice Graham
Photos By M.C. Stag Photography/

HillsJill Hill is used to guests marveling at the view from her Stringers Ridge condo. “People are shocked by it when they enter our home,” she says. Take, for example, the window above the kitchen sink: it boasts views of all four downtown bridges, the Tennessee River, and the city landscape. “The daytime view is breathtaking, but the nighttime view is unbelievable when the city gets quiet and lights twinkle,” Jill describes.

And while the outside aesthetic is picturesque, the inside of their home is just as striking. The main hub of the home is the kitchen, in which stark white elements offer a dramatic contrast to warm wood. White cabinets and beveled-edge subway tile give the kitchen a clean and bright look, while black walnut butcher block perimeter countertops add an earthy, rich tone. The center island top adds more white tones to the palette – this time with lavish light-colored marble. A high-traffic area, the kitchen island has a lived-in feel. “The marble shows signs of daily wear and tear, but it doesn’t bother me. I like for it to show its history,” Jill says. “We gather here every day for breakfast and dinner.”

The space also mixes traditional décor with modern pieces. A flat, antique brass finish on the light fixtures is used alongside stainless steel appliances. A white farmhouse sink with a deep, single bowl brings a classic look, while a smaller veggie sink is helpful to have on hand when preparing meals. Accessories including a lush houseplant, open shelving, and a countertop lamp round out this nucleus of the home.

Just off the kitchen, the family room is home to a wood-burning fireplace and sliding glass doors that open to the patio. Muted, cool tones make the room feel relaxed and breezy. “We went with soft colors for a subtle feel,” Jill says. The ceiling adds extra dimension with its plank paneling – a feature used also on the foyer, hallways, and dining area walls. Built-in bookshelves flanking the cypress mantle give the room a stately and timeless look. “I would put them on every wall in the house if I could,” Jill muses.

In the center of the room, the square tufted ottoman is in constant use by the family. The fabric on it has been replaced many times and it continues to be one of their favorite, most used pieces. Behind the sofa, a console table holds books and lamps with blue and white ginger jars for bases. Nine pieces of framed art hang above the couch, all of them collected from artists both local and across the country.


In the dining room, wall paneling adds an extra dose of character. Describing the room as traditional and classic,  Jill says they chose items through the years they knew they wouldn’t grow tired of over time. A glance around reveals an assortment of antiques mixed with new pieces. Just off the kitchen, the space is used regularly for formal meals. A mahogany dining table with antique chairs catches the glow from the overhead chandelier, and wall sconces flanking a reflective mirror add extra touches of warmth and ambiance. On the left wall, built-in cabinetry with glass-front doors houses china and barware, while on the adjacent wall, an oil on canvas of fishing boats hangs above the buffet, adding to the quiet grey and blue tones throughout the room. A woven sisal rug defines the space, setting it apart from the nearby kitchen.

In the master bedroom, calm, natural tones are accentuated by pale blue linen drapes and white bedding. A plush linen headboard adds a modern punch, while a wooden side table, passed down from Jill’s grandmother, brings a family heirloom element. X-based benches and a side chair offer comfortable places to sit, while a painting hung above the chair has personal significance. “Our daughter Sophia is an art major now in graduate school,” Jill says. “She gave me this painting for Mother’s Day a few years ago and it means the world to me.”


The Hills took the his-and-her sink idea a step further by each having their own bathrooms – personal, private spaces for them both. Jill’s bathroom offers a freestanding tub with a handheld faucet – the perfect spot to relax – and a crystal and gold chandelier adds a touch of elegance. A frameless mirror with mounted wall sconces offers an ambient glow and makes the space feel open, but warm. White cabinetry, brushed nickel hardware, and the same subway tile used in the kitchen complete the bathroom’s décor. Larry’s bath is finished in dark tones.

The outdoor patio offers panoramic views of downtown and the Tennessee River. An outdoor kitchen is outfitted with a commercial Wolf grill and hood, Sub-Zero refrigerator, ice maker, and sink, making it an outdoor refuge – the perfect place for hosting parties and family gatherings. Ample furniture doubles as seating for guests or a place for the family to lounge when home together. “We chose gold-toned cushions because they were so pretty against the blue sky in the background,” Jill says.


During summer nights, this is the place to be. Whether it’s fireworks from the Lookouts Friday night home games, Riverbend closing nights, or Pops in the Park, this outdoor area gives the Hills the best seat in the house. “The fireworks are spectacular from here,” Jill says. “It feels like you could reach out and touch them.”

“At some point, we will downsize,” she continues. “Our grown children have made homes in different cities and we will purchase something smaller. But I know in my heart that another family is going to love this home as much as we do.”

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