Cultivating a Cultured Condo

The Lauritzen Home

Now retired, Becky Lauritzen spent much of her formative years running a design and antique shop in Villa Rica, Georgia. Her work would frequently take her to neighboring states to source items, and while she may have come to Chattanooga to find some unique furniture, she left with a new place to call home.

Upon coming across the historic 1925 Park Place School building, Becky and husband Paul immediately fell in love.
“We like old architecture, and we liked the fact that this building had been repurposed into housing,” explains Paul. But it wasn’t just the architecture that stole the couple’s hearts. The duo had been looking to downsize and was also in search of a home that was all on one level, and this property delivered.

By Christina Davenport
Photography by Ryan Dugger/Creative Revolver

The Park Place School building commands a city block and is situated on the outskirts of downtown Chattanooga. But upon approaching the Lauritzen residence, that sense of grandeur brought on by the building’s sheer size transitions to a more intimate feeling that is full of love and charm.

An outdoor oasis lies just beyond the front door and is filled with pea gravel. Wooden planter boxes full of life embellish the home’s black-framed windows, and just steps away a large wooden table is surrounded by eight woven barrel chairs.
A more highly sought-after area, however, is a nearby vignette comprised of four black Adirondack chairs and a fire pit.

“One of the few things I miss about the other homes we’ve lived in is having a fireplace,” says Becky. “We made some decisions when designing in the interior and weren’t able to incorporate one inside, so we installed this unit, and it has been a great compromise.”

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Stepping into the home, guests are immediately transported into the main living area where an open concept reigns above all else.

“When we first saw this space, I was impressed with the windows and the view, but it was still very dark and I didn’t like the floor plan,” says Paul. “Since that time, it’s been totally transformed, and a lot of that is thanks to Becky and her vision for what this place could become.”

Now, after removing some walls and adding others, this space welcomes a plethora of natural light that is filtered through plantation shutters. The windows are flanked by Euro pleated drapes that offer up a fun pattern and play nicely with the other textiles in the room, such as a pair of houndstooth-patterned armchairs and textured throw pillows. A cream-colored sofa is paired with a matching armchair and ottoman, and various woods, metals, and botanicals dot the space for an eclectic but relaxed feel.

The crowning jewel of the room, however, is an oversized wooden counter that used to be a prominent fixture of Becky’s antique shop. On top, two large glass vases overflow with vibrant pothos plants, and a pair of matching tabletop lamps mirror the duality. But that isn’t all – a flat-screen TV is discreetly tucked away under the surface of the counter and can be summoned by the push of a button. Until then, an expertly executed aesthetic controls the space.

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Not far away, the kitchen is every bit as functional as it is beautiful. Light gray bottom cabinetry runs throughout the space and is topped with butcher block counters. The far wall features two cabinetry towers for additional storage, which are bisected by a singular open shelf.

A small marble-topped island rests in the center of the room and offers up extra prep space. A forest green window frame to the right has been backed with mirrors, which reflect light back into the room, and a whitewash brick accent wall and corresponding column offer up additional visual interest. Also garnering attention in the kitchen is the Lauritzen’s European stove, loved by many for its gentle and radiant heat.

“It’s taken a bit of time to get used to it, but this stove really suits the way we cook,” elaborates Becky.

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Steps away from the kitchen, a round, wooden dining table serves as Becky and Paul’s main eating area. A distressed metal chandelier hangs above the table and repeats the silhouette, while several slat back chairs accommodate six. A tongue-and-groove ceiling above the dining area is the perfect adornment and helps define the space, which otherwise flows freely to other areas of the home. As with the living room, botanicals accent this space and add a renewed energy.

Playing off of the color of the surrounding plants, two mahogany bookshelves have been painted an olive green and artfully display an array of antique finds and personal mementos. A trio of shelves connect the pieces of furniture and again accommodate baskets, books, table lamps, and the like.

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Passing through a set of French doors takes visitors to the master bedroom. Custom millwork cloaks the walls, and accordion shutters allow a small window in the corner to let in a hint of natural light. A postal collection cabinet has been divided in two and topped with marble for a set of unique nightstands.

Another favorite in this room, as well as in the hallway near the kitchen, is a set of postcards belonging to Paul’s grandparents.
“These postcards are some exchanges between my grandmother and grandfather before they were married. They are from around 1908, and at the time, my grandfather was in America while my grandmother was in Germany. She was able to immigrate before the first World War, and these have always been special to me,” says Paul. “What I like about them, in particular, is how beautiful the handwriting is. It’s almost like artwork.”

Everywhere you turn in the Lauritzen home, there is a story to be found. The open floor plan converges with a simple living lifestyle that celebrates the beauty and history of everyday things. The old is mixed with the new, and functionality takes center stage.

“Making this space our home was a bit of a labor of love,” explains Becky. “After we figured out how to make it work for us, however, I couldn’t imagine a place that would be more suitable for me and Paul.”

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