The Space Makers

The Wamacks’ seamless addition to their 1920s bungalow provided the space their growing family needed. 

By Candice Graham  |  Photography by Med Dement 

Lisa and Chad Wamack knew they wanted the charm and character that comes with an old home. Moving back to their native Chattanooga from Colorado, they targeted their ideal NorthShore neighborhood, and even picked a few favorite streets. All that was left to do was find the perfect house. They found it in a 1925 bungalow with arched doorways and sweeping oak wooden floors. “The doors were my favorite part. When I saw that I told Chad ‘I am living in this house,’” Lisa says.

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For the first few years, Chad and Lisa’s home was just the right size for a family of two. “When we bought the house it had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and we were fine with that for a while,” Chad explains. “But we quickly started running out of room when we had our first child in 2004.”

So the couple was met with a difficult choice: leave the home they loved in search of more space, or stay and undertake a project that would add the room they needed for their growing family. In 2008, they chose the latter, and so began a collaborative effort between friends, neighbors, and talented pros that included sketches on napkins and discussions over drinks. The result is an addition that both fits their needs and blends seamlessly with the original house.

The Wamack Family Chad, Lisa, Ruth, and Mary Wamack

The Wamack Family
Chad, Lisa, Ruth, and Mary Wamack

The Wamacks added a second story and gave the downstairs kitchen a complete update, but looking at the house you’d never guess it wasn’t all original. Keeping the architectural integrity of the house was important to the couple, and this was achieved by paying attention to details such as hardwood floors, windows, and doors. “I had certain criteria that I wasn’t going to skimp on,” Lisa says. “The windows and the doors were really important to me. I wanted those to maintain the old look, and I wanted the outside to look seamless, like it had always been that way.”

The Wamacks were fortunate that the house had good bones – so good that most of the first level remained untouched, keeping the home’s original footprint. The living room, original to the house, is painted a deep forest green. Describing her furniture style as “primitive antiques,” Lisa scoured flea markets to find furniture and accessories to outfit the space.

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A new plush leather couch and natural linen chairs provide seating, while accessories such as a vintage checkerboard table and a salvaged map of Colorado add pops of personality. With the help of an interior designer friend, the Wamacks decided to paint the living room ceiling charcoal gray, which creates a cool contrast against the white crown molding and painted fireplace.

On the family’s living room wall hangs their favorite piece of artwork in the house – a carved painting of their daughters, Mary and Ruth. The 3-D wooden art piece by local artist Judith Mogul, is modeled after a photo of the girls that was taken on the home’s front porch swing. The natural elements of the piece are mirrored in several aspects throughout the house.

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The family’s kitchen, which is completely renovated, now features distressed alder cabinets and black brushed granite countertops. A large, open kitchen space for entertaining was important to the Wamacks, and this was achieved by creating a large center island and strategically placing the stairs leading to the second floor. “A big thing in the design was where the stairs were going to land, so we moved them around 360 degrees,” says Lisa, explaining that they ultimately chose to place the stairs near the kitchen in order to leave all other rooms on the first level untouched. Now the stairs also double as extra seating when entertaining. “I didn’t think about it at the time, but when we have people over they can now sit on the steps or at the counter,” Lisa says.

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The kitchen is complete with hexagon-shaped backsplash tiles, stainless steel appliances, and rugged, durable seating. Attached to the kitchen is a small TV area, which was a part of the addition. The built-in bookshelves were sketched by Chad on a napkin and then brought to life by their cabinetmaker.

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Through an arched doorway to the right of the kitchen is the dining room. A hanging light fixture with a large rectangular shade offers a warm glow above a repurposed barn wood table with original nails and wide planks. “We were eating lunch on this table at a café in Copper Hill, Tenn.,” Lisa says. “It had a little for sale sign on it, so we offered to pay for it and got it the next day.” Sage green walls and an original window ledge for potted plants add extra character, and wide arched double doors with glass windows sanction the area off from other parts of the house if needed.

Upstairs, the girls’ rooms are painted in bright pastels. Mary’s room is painted spring green and has two dark wooden twin beds which were handed down from Chad’s grandmother. Matching shelves were built by Lisa’s grandfather. Ruth’s room is a pretty powder pink, and is complete with white bunk beds and a plush rosy chair.

Near the girls’ rooms is the master bedroom. A stormy gray color covers the walls, creating a serene atmosphere. A graphic black and white plush chair rests by the bed with a brightly stitched Tennessee pillow. Dark furniture outfits the room, and a desk that belonged to Chad since he was a kid fits perfectly into one of the bedroom’s nooks.

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In the center of the master bathroom is a refurbished antique clawfoot tub. Natural slate tiles make up the shower wall with a sheer glass door. His and her sinks are set into concrete countertops and outfitted with the same knobs and bin pulls with a gunmetal finish that are used consistently throughout the home. Vintage-inspired faucets with white cross handles are used in each of the home’s bathrooms.

Six years since the remodel, the Wamacks still couldn’t be happier with the way their home turned out. “There’s not been one thing that I wish we’d done differently,” Lisa says. As for others hoping to remodel or add on? The Wamacks have some advice: “Living here for eight years before the remodel, we knew what we wanted,” Chad says. “We didn’t try to change the home, we just tried to expand on the features we already had,” Lisa adds. “We’re happy here and we’re glad that the gamble paid off,” Chad says. “We’re happy we stayed.”