Modern Meets Ancient

When Hal and Kim Jones began making plans for the new house they were building in North Chattanooga, they had two major “wants”: first, for the home to be constructed in the Italian style, and second, for it to look rustic and old. The couple had seen a house in Atlanta that was almost exactly what they were looking for. With that as inspiration, Hal set about drafting and redrafting the home plans. Now complete, the two-story 6,000-square-foot house sits on a secluded lot with a high vantage point of the Tennessee River.

The Joneses’ Italian Home in North Chattanooga

By Rebecca Rochat

Full PDF here.

The Overarching Design 

The home took a year-and-a-half to build. Architects Mike Splawn and Gayla Strickland took Hal’s drafts and design and created workable architectural plans. Kim oversaw all of the construction along with her mom, Jan Frost, owner of CWJ Properties. Kim, who has a very eclectic design sense, also did the decorating.

The white stucco exterior is reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. It has minimal architectural features, and the ones it does have—like the center roof pediment, window trim, and columns—are unadorned. Above the front porch is a balcony with a delicate wrought iron railing. The façade’s front walls were constructed as double walls, allowing for recessed windows inside and out.

Inside, the home uses a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture, decorative pieces, beautiful finishes, and materials like copper, iron, and reclaimed wood. Many of the chandeliers and table lamps were handmade. Like the exterior, the interior has few architectural details; hardly any crown or base molding was used with the exception of travertine tiles used as a base molding. Completing the Italian look, travertine Peacock Pavers were used for the main level flooring and the interior walls were given a bullnose, rather than squared, edging.

The Foyer and Office

Double front doors made from reclaimed wood stained in an ebony-walnut color open into the spacious foyer which has a spiral staircase with a wrought iron railing and walnut steps. Two ‘60s-era chairs are placed beside a small antique side table with parquetry inlay, over which hangs an elegant mirror in a frame of gold gilt and glass. On the staircase wall, a console table with Greek fret inlay has a French provincial style bench underneath. Just overhead are three cubist-style chandeliers with crisscrossed brass frames inlaid with ivory bone.

Just off the foyer, a sliding barn door made from reclaimed woods opens into a cozy office nook with eclectic furnishings. On one side of the room, a Taylor guitar is displayed on a three-door console table made of rustic grey pine with hand-forged brass handles. On another is the black Chinoiserie office desk with Chinese fret-front panels.

The Formal Dining Room

The formal dining room has a pale color scheme of neutral gray mixed with white. A round zinc-top dining table sits on a 3D metal wire base resting on lion’s paw feet. The surrounding Greek klismos-style dining chairs are covered in a gray leather fabric, and above hangs an iron chandelier with oyster shell and quartz pendants. For a centerpiece, Kim uses a menagerie of objects including candles in glass stands, votive candles, two glass vases, two white Chinese Foo dogs, dried flowers, and shells. Other furnishings include two side chairs—one a Rococo style and one Neoclassical—placed next to a small round table, and a provincial antique Italian grandfather clock with a distressed finish.

The Kitchen, Living Room, and Porch

A passageway connects to the kitchen and living room, which are combined to form one continuous open space. On one wall of the passageway is an antique armoire, on the other, a buffet and a carved wooden piece from an Italian wedding carriage.

In the combined space, the ceiling is made of cyprus and roughhewn barn wood, and from it hang two round iron chandeliers with a center design of wrought tree branches.

In the kitchen, the same barn wood used for the ceiling is used for the hood over the cooktop—but this time, it is adorned with a carved fleur-de-lis motif. Antiqued limestone countertops pair beautifully with cherry cabinetry painted in a gray wash stain. Because the kitchen and living room are combined, the cabinets are designed to look furniture cabinetry rather than kitchen cabinets and the side-by-side refrigerator and freezer are hidden behind two door panels. The kitchen table, made from narrow strips of contrasting woods, is paired with four black leather dining chairs.

At the far end of the large combined area is a French limestone fireplace. An abstract painting hangs over the mantel, on which sits an antique candelabra held by reclining female Grecian figures. The living room area’s sofa and two chairs face a flat screen TV over a 1950s-inspired console table with a faux shagreen antiqued brass finish.

Just off the combined space is a covered porch with a spectacular view of the river. The space is furnished with a pine trestle table and chairs, a seating area with a fireplace, and a log storage wall made of Texas white limestone.

The Master Suite

The master bedroom’s walls are painted a dovetail gray, setting the stage for a beautiful contrasting herringbone patterned walnut floor. Grey and cream bed linens use a mixture of textures and patterns, and the headboard is covered in cream linen with metal nail head accents. Matching nightstands with etched mirror fronts hold various silver objects including silver patina table lamps with etched glass and linen shades. A white gesso console table has raised hexagonal pattern front panels inspired by a similar design in the Taj Mahal. From the ceiling hangs a chandelier that looks almost like icicles—Kim had the creative idea of dipping glass in plaster to achieve the look.

The master bath has vein-cut limestone floors and countertops, a Japanese soaking tub, and a shower with limestone walls. The shower floor is also made from limestone, but has a pattern that gives it a 3D woven look. In keeping with the color scheme, the bathroom’s cherry cabinets are painted cream with a distressed finish.

The Lower Level

The lower level of the home includes Brooks’ bedroom (Brooks is the Joneses’ son) and a wine cellar. The custom cellar with glass doors surrounded by oak framing is climate controlled and has built-in shelving for bottle storage. The room’s walls are made from Texas White limestone, and its flooring is stained concrete. From the ceiling hangs a gorgeous “ox yoke” chandelier.

The Second Story

On the second story of the home is the bedroom of Conner, the Joneses’ son, and a guestroom. Conner’s room has an electric color scheme of bright royal blue and black-and-white patterning. A chair and ottoman are covered in a black-and-white circular pattern, while the accent rug on the walnut floors is in a black-and-white herringbone pattern. The bed has a large rectangular headboard covered in royal blue velvet and a black-and-white bedspread using a different herringbone pattern. The sconces on both sides are made from stingray tails, and the overhead light figures are two shiny silver theater spotlights.

The guest bedroom is decorated in the colors of the sea. The bed is covered in a white duvet with brown banding, and a  turquoise blanket lies across the end.
Some of the decorative pillows match the duvet, while others are appliqued with motifs from the sea in pastel shades of blue.

The room is furnished with a small round table between two white French provincial armchairs covered with patterned cushions, and over the table rests a mirror in a frame made from a collection of sea shells and starfish.  The overhead light fixtures are made of  hand-carved pine with a distressed finish.

The tile flooring in the adjoining guest bathroom has a trompe l’oeil effect that makes it look like wooden planks. The room has a freestanding vanity with a marble countertop and cherry cabinets. On both sides are gold gilt wall sconces with crystal pendants.

By putting their ideas and skill sets together, Hal and Kim were able to design and build a truly remarkable home—a fresh, modern take on a classical Italian style. From the minimalist exterior with its beautiful lines and shape to the exquisite interior with its mix of smooth and roughhewn, dark and light, this treasure of a home is the perfect reflection of the couple’s eclectic tastes.