Contemporary Colonial

When Trey and Laurel Powell first visited their two-story Colonial on Signal Mountain, it hadn’t been updated since it was built in 1962. The property needed some work, but Laurel, an architect, still saw its enormous potential. The couple decided to buy the home and soon after embarked on a series of cosmetic and structural changes. Their goal? To preserve the home’s original Colonial flavor, but add a fresh, modern flair.

The Powell Home on Signal Mountain

By Rebecca Rochat

Full PDF here.

A Home Makeover 

The transformation started on the outside of the home. The Powells changed a dark red exterior color to a light gray with darker gray trim around the windows and front door. They also replaced the original solid front door with spectacular glass-paned double doors that let more light inside.

The couple carried the outdoor light gray color scheme through to the interior and added brand new crown and baseboard molding. They replaced the interior hollow core doors with solid wood panel doors, and the shag carpet with a stained white oak hardwood downstairs and a soft beige carpeting upstairs.

The Powells also made several structural changes on the first floor. A piano room was remodeled to become the dining room, a full bath was changed into a powder room/pantry, and a wall separating the kitchen and original dining room was taken down to create a traditional Colonial “keeping room.”

The Living Areas 

For the downstairs décor, the Powells decided to combine modern and traditional pieces with family heirlooms. The main entry, completely made over, has an elegant paisley wallpaper and an antique iron chandelier. Laurel completed the look by furnishing the room with a French provincial table flanked by ladder-back chairs and a round mirror with a wooden frame.

The living room’s neutral color scheme is accented by pops of blue, like an upholstered indigo sofa topped with geometric pillows. A glass top coffee table sits on a cowhide rug layered over a jute rug, and a light blue antique truck, reinvented as an occasional table, rests between two Queen Anne-style armchairs.

A white double-side fireplace acts as a partition between the living room and keeping room. On the living room side of the hearth hangs a colorful abstract, and on the keeping room side, a flat screen T.V. rests above an antique mantel made from a 200-year-old barn beam from West Tennessee.

In a clever move, the couple transformed a corner of the keeping room into a dining niche and workspace by adding a built-in L-shaped seating area with storage bins. A multi-armed iron chandelier hangs above a white pedestal table, where family members can sit propped up by lilac and gold accent pillows.

The Kitchen, Porch & Dining Room 

The Powells updated the kitchen by adding a farmhouse sink, a backsplash of subway tiles, and butcher-block countertops. They painted the cabinets a light gray and added brass pulls for a bit of shine. An old trestle farm table in the center of the room serves as the work island, and above a cabinet island on the left wall, shelving holds an elegant arrangement of dishes and other decorative pieces.

Glass pane doors lead to the Powells’ expansive screened-in porch that extends out into the trees. Laurel says the porch is a favorite play area for their two sons, Preston and Miller. It’s also a relaxing retreat where family and guests can talk or eat while lounging on wooden rockers, a swing, or a wooden coach upholstered in blue and white fabric.

On the other side of the home, in the dining room, dining chairs upholstered in a “French Conversation Piece” fabric surround a round table with a gray and white antique fabric remnant tablecloth. Above the table hangs a brass chandelier, and on the back wall, a beautiful three-paneled winter landscape by local artist Liz Nichols hangs over a French provincial buffet topped with two silver candelabras.

The Upstairs

In addition to adding new carpet, the Powells painted the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms in fresh, light colors to create the feeling of openness and space.

The first bedroom doubles as a nursery for the Powell’s youngest son, Miller, age 6 months. Laurel painted the ceiling with gold stars and the couple added a light fixture in the shape of a crown. The room is furnished with a crib and a daybed, and a plaque sitting on a chest of drawers reads, “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.”

The second bedroom belongs to Preston, age 2. His ceiling is painted in blue and white stripes—a nautical touch that fits perfectly with the room’s lantern light fixture. Two framed Schumacher wallpaper panels of songbirds on tree branches hang over Preston’s daybed, which is covered in a blue checked fabric.

Preston and Miller’s bathroom is outfitted with a new tub and shower, marble countertops, wooden cabinets with a distressed finish, and white subway tiling. Moravian star fixtures hang over the sink, on which sits a mirror in an embossed tin frame.

The master bedroom was decorated in gray, blue, and beige. Gray walls and beige fabrics complement the draperies and bed skirt made from a linen fabric with a blue floral block print. The bedside tables have gray metal tops and a two-tone gray distressed finish; a bright blue Shaker-style chest adds a pop of color to the room. On the far wall, a walnut chest of drawers is accented with two mirrors: a larger one in a wrought iron frame, and a smaller one in a sunburst-shaped frame.

A Completed Look

Through a year of hard work, the Powells were able to create an elegant and livable home, beautifully designed and refurbished to reflect their personal tastes. Built to last, their Signal Mountain dwelling now has a historic American aesthetic with a charming, contemporary flair.


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