Text by Rebecca Rochat & Hannah Vanbiber | Photography by Robert Schellhammer
Opening directly to the street, this two-story Southside warehouse space has seen many transformations through Chattanooga’s urban renaissance. Originally built to be a grocery store, change came to the interior as it was first transitioned into an office space and then purchased by a local couple with an eye for repurposing. The couple hired Eric Myers from Elemi Architects to design a floor plan that transformed the dark, industrial space into a livable home.
One of its most striking features is a fully enclosed backyard that allows for a private urban green space only a few steps from the street. A deck on the second floor, accessible only through the master suite, creates a covered porch below, shading the area to provide a comfortable place for outdoor entertaining. On three sides of the porch, curtains can be drawn to provide an enclosed, private space.
Both the upper deck and covered porch reflect the industrial themes original to the building. The landscaped pool area incorporates reflecting lights and jets flowing into the pool to create a spa-like escape for all the senses.
Inside, the owners wanted a large space for entertaining on the first floor, with the second floor housing bedrooms and bathrooms. The transformation began by completely gutting the entire structure. The floor joists were in such bad shape that the floor sagged, so new beams were installed and the original floor joists were cut to smaller lengths and run from beam to beam to reinforce the floor.
“The driving force behind the first floor was to bring in as much natural light as possible,” says Ethan Collier, CEO of Collier Construction who built this home. The only natural light in the original structure came from the front windows. “It felt like a cave because there were brick walls on either side,” says Collier.
To open the space up, the Collier team cut a swath out of the back of the building, running from the first floor to the second floor. The change allowed natural light to flood the space, completely transforming it to feel like an expansive, open loft.
While the overall square footage is not large, the public area still has the feel of a large space since it was designed to flow together. The front door opens directly to the living area, followed by the dining area, with the kitchen at the rear. The dining area connects the living room and kitchen and maintains the living room’s classic look. A more contemporary lantern-style chandelier hangs over the table to connect with the kitchen’s modern design.
The kitchen has Caesarstone countertops and stainless steel appliances. An island with a raised bar houses the stove, over which hangs a stainless vent hood. With the back opened up, the kitchen is situated to open directly onto the backyard and pool so guests can move freely between indoor and outdoor entertaining spaces.
An exposed brick wall lines the stairway that leads to a seating area on the second floor with a wicker love seat and chair. To create more light, the stairway was designed to be open on one side, leading to a landing with the same open railing overlooking the living area. Opening up the space with natural light turned a dark, commercial space into a space that is residential and warm.
In the second-floor seating area, a cowhide is used for an area rug over the oak flooring. A nine-paned mirror reflects the brick wall across the open stairwell, creating a sense of more space.
Upstairs are three bedrooms and baths. One room is designed with a feminine aesthetic, painted in soothing grays and whites and accented by metallic splashes. The walls in this room are painted in alternating wide horizontal stripes of silver and beige. A mirrored chest complements the silver wall striping, while tones of beige and taupe are used for the bed linens and draperies. A gold starburst mirror between the two windows complements the sepia print above the dresser and draws warmth into the space. The third room features a modern, spare aesthetic and provides extra storage. A dark headboard and armoire anchor the white walls, and a red bicycle stored alongside the bed adds of a splash of color and urban practicality.
Architect: Eric Myers, Elemi Architects
Builder: Collier Construction
Landscaping: Mountaintop Landscaping
Closets: Chattanooga Closet Company