The Persinger Home on Lookout Mountain
At the end of a long winding driveway that slopes down from the street above sits an elegant Craftsman-inspired home on six sprawling acres surrounded by an additional nine acres of private woods. You could say that the house was located in a small subdivision on Lookout Mountain, but between its secluded entrance and rural setting, it seems miles away from any populated area.
By Rebecca Rochat
Inspired by Nature
This jewel of a home was built nearly 17 years ago by Steve and Karen Persinger. From the time they began drawing up plans, the couple knew exactly what they wanted: to use materials that were 1) typical of the Craftsman period, and 2) as rustic as the land on which the home would sit. Stacked stone and brick were used for the exterior, copper was used for the gutters and downspouts, and cedar shake was used for the roof. Every single person who was hired to work on the home—from the framer to the stone mason to the brick mason—was a “true craftsman,” Steve explains.
A tour of the interior reveals a host of custom detail work ranging from woodwork and cabinetry done by a local artisan to leaded glass in the kitchen, stairwell, and study. In keeping with the style of the Craftsman period, the home is filled with warm woods used for trim, molding, stairs, doors, flooring, and cabinetry. In fact, as many as seven types of wood are used throughout the home, including: heart of pine, oak, Honduran mahogany, red cherry, black walnut, maple, and poplar. For just a little touch of local flavor, the heart of pine flooring used throughout the house was made from reclaimed wood from Warehouse Row.
The Foyer and Living Room
The layout of the first floor of the home follows the traditional Craftsman home model: a small foyer with a low ceiling that opens into a larger living area. For a unique touch, the Persingers swapped the traditional Craftsman look of wainscoting in the foyer for black walnut hand-carved panels. The couples’ large living room is warm and welcoming with its heart of pine flooring, mahogany window trim, wheatgrass green walls, black cherry framed fireplace, and comfortable furniture arranged around an oriental rug of deep reds and blues. At one end of the living room, a beautiful floral tapestry piece that once belonged to Karen’s family hangs over a console table with a flat screen TV.
The Dining Area and Kitchen
The family’s informal dining area is situated between the living room and kitchen. At the center of the cozy room is a custom-made cherry trestle dining table surrounded by chairs and a built-in cherry banquet. Just across the room is a full bar outfitted with a sink, counters, cabinets, and overhead shelving. A glass display shelf holds a miniature whiskey bottle collection once owned by Steve’s grandfather.
The home’s expansive kitchen has solid cherry cabinetry, honed granite countertops, and beautiful travertine tile flooring with blue diamond accent tiles. A large island has a bar sink, a Viking 6 burner, and a griddle cooktop with double ovens vented by a hand-crafted copper hood. Overhead cabinets with glass fronts display cookbooks and various pieces of pottery. Above the kitchen sink, a beautiful Arts and Crafts-style leaded transom has iron mullions and decorative blue square panes.
The kitchen is outfitted with every amenity and convenience possible, including: a sub-zero refrigerator and freezer, a Dacor oven with a warming drawer, a floor to ceiling walk-in pantry, wine storage nooks, and a lowered butch block countertop designed for rolling out dough while baking.
The Formal Dining Room
The formal dining room is lined with handmade gold patterned wallpaper and individual portraits of Steve and Karen’s sons at the age of two and a half. At the center of the room is an oval Queen Anne-style burl walnut dining table surrounded by Queen Anne-style side chairs and arm chairs covered in floral crewel fabric. Other furnishings include a buffet with carved front panels, an antique display cabinet with a green distressed finish, and a Chippendale-style settee that sits in front of a three-part window.
The Left Wing
The opposite wing of the house houses the study and master suite. The study, while intimate, has the feel of a larger room because of its 18-foot double pitched ceiling with heart pine beams. Green walls and honey-colored heart of pine cabinets and window trim give the room feeling of warmth and coziness. At the center of the room is a fireplace with a handcrafted tile surround made by Karen. An antique clock that once belonged to Steve’s grandmother graces the mantel.
Among of the coolest features of the room are two window “book nooks” with cushions, perfect for curling up with a good book. Other great reading spots include a sofa and overstuffed chairs covered in soft velvet. To complete the Arts-and-Crafts style décor, the couple added Tiffany-style table and floor lamps and various handcrafted furnishings including a poplar coffee table and a wormy chestnut storage cabinet.
The Persingers’ large master bedroom is decorated in soft shades of green. Light green walls complement a red cherry trim around the bedroom windows and red oak flooring. French doors lead to a rear deck, and a cherry TV cabinet faces a large sleigh bed. Seating includes a royal blue velvet Victorian style chair, a green floral patterned loveseat, and a William Morris green leather chair.
The master bath is separated into a “dry” area and “wet” area. The wet area of the master bath has a steam shower, a whirlpool tub, marble flooring, and marble countertops. The dry area has red oak flooring, marble countertops, cherry cabinetry, separate vanities, and a dressing table.
The Second Story
The home has three stairways: one at each end and one from the center living room. One of the side stairways leads from master suite up to a private exercise room and a second room that acts as a hobby room for both Steve and Karen.
A side entrance off the carport leads to a guest bathroom, a guest bath, and the second side staircase. The heart of pine and mahogany stairs are complemented by decorative iron railing for a beautiful juxtaposition of light and dark tones.
A center stairway leads to a landing with a beautiful leaded window. At the top in the upstairs hallway sits a Victorian style “fainting couch” that belonged to Steve’s grandmother. The upstairs has three bedrooms, each with their own bath. The bedrooms once belonged to Steve and Karen’s three sons, but now one is reserved for their grandchildren and another serves as Karen’s study and yoga room. The second story also has a large playroom and adjoining game room.
For When the Weather Warms
The family home has several great outdoor areas for relaxing and enjoying the surrounding natural scenery. An expansive wooden deck that looks out onto the wooded backyard spans the entire rear of the house. One end of the deck, accessible from the master suite, has a grill. The other end has a covered screened-in brick porch with an oak ceiling and wicker furniture accented with green cushions. A stone patio with a table and chairs for outdoor dining adjoins the two deck areas.
Steve and Karen love the outdoors and all it offers—in fact, they even do organic farming on their farm in Georgia. Lifelong nature lovers, the couple has created a peaceful setting that matches their personalities and lifestyle. Their Craftsman-inspired home on six wooded acres conveys mountain elegance combined with casual living, and the couple’s attention to detail is seen in its materials, colors, and craftsmanship. From the very beginning, the Persingers wanted to create a home that was timeless. It’s safe to say that after 17 years, it is still a modern interpretation of a classic style.