This Must Be the Place

Premier Living

By Tory Irmeger | Photography by Bekah Berry/Creative Revolver

Top Photo Courtesy of Jenn & Tyler Smith

Like many others whose lives were rearranged by the pandemic, the Smith family had started to feel like the walls were closing in. In their small space, Jenn and Tyler Smith had transitioned to working from home while also homeschooling their two boys. They originally set their sights on a new build in Red Bank, but when they stumbled upon this plot of scenic property, they began to reassess their plans.

large front entrance with stairway with black railings

“We drove by this lot and tried to imagine our family living here,” shares Jenn. “We were downtown people – we walked everywhere, the kids walked to school, we loved being central in Chattanooga. But we fell in love with this property. We feel like we’re in the country, although the grocery store is only a short drive away.”

he Smith home is tucked away on a slice of paradise, with front porch views of open fields and an idyllic pond in the backyard. The house itself, however, was overdue for a remodel. Rather than being daunted by the task, Jenn and Tyler were excited by the prospect of reimagining the five-bedroom farmhouse. The pair met in school while studying architecture, so they are no strangers to remodeling and design projects.

modern master bedroom with neat bedroom and bright natural light

The first task for Jenn and Tyler was to open up the interiors of the home. They went down to the studs, removing walls and raising ceilings. The entryway was amended to have a shed ceiling fitted with recessed lighting, so what was once a sealed foyer is now an open hall leading to the heart of the home.

The Smiths admit that achieving this remodel was no small feat, but the fingerprints of the house’s past give it an undeniable sense of character. “We probably could have saved money by starting from scratch,” Tyler says, “but there was some old energy here that was nice to preserve.” 

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large living room with sloped ceiling showing a window panel

The house was originally built in the early 20th century, with add-ons from the ‘80s. “It’s still a farmhouse at its core,” Jenn says, “but we wanted to add a coastal vibe with the blue and green color palette.” Here, this color scheme can be seen in the master suite, with aqua accents against cool, gray neutrals.

large living room with sloped ceiling showing a window panel

Meanwhile, emerald green doors punctuate doorways throughout the house. “This was a way to pay homage to the original home,” Jenn explains. “When we gutted the house, we uncovered preexisting siding behind the walls, which was all green.” The cool earth tones also tie in with the scenery around the property. Tyler adds, “We wanted the house to feel like an extension to the outdoors.”

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large living room with sloped ceiling showing a window panel

Passing under the second-story walkway, guests enter the living area, which now functions on an open-floor plan with the kitchen and a dining vignette. A sculptural pendant light is suspended from the vaulted ceiling, but the space is flooded with natural light by two rows of picture windows. Prior to the remodel, this entire living area had 8-foot ceilings that made the space feel confined. From the start, the Smiths had a vision to make the house feel spacious, bright, and perfect for hosting guests.

“In our previous housing, we did several remodels and lived small, always working towards something like this,” Jenn shares. “We compromised not being able to entertain for a decade, and now we have the ‘hangout house.’”

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modern kitchen with bright white furnishings, ceilings, and walls

The living area seamlessly transitions to the kitchen, where a large quartz-topped island provides plenty of counter space. Gold hardware pops against shaker cabinets, and a warm shiplap accent peeks out from under the bar. The design is clean and minimalistic with high-end finishes. Supplementary storage and appliances are available in the butler’s pantry, which can be sealed off with sliding doors while entertaining.

Having designed and constructed many houses over the years, the Smiths know where they’re willing to compromise as well as the amenities they don’t want to live without. “Something we did here that’s always been a priority of ours is making the home as energy efficient as possible. There’s geothermal heating and air and a water filtration system throughout the entire house,” says Jenn. The backyard pond is not only a great source of bluegill and bass; it also works with the climate control system to maintain comfortable house temperatures all year long.

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smith family game room

Rounding out the main level, a game room adds a fun auxiliary space in place of what was previously an enclosed kitchen. The foosball table was Jenn’s parents, while the exposed light fixture above the table as well as the sliding barn door were both taken from the Smiths’ old office space. Tyler calls this house a big “reuse and recycle project,” as they didn’t want old furnishings to go to waste.

the smith family playing with a football table in their game room

Jenn & Tyler Smith, sons Dakota and Abram

No fixer upper is ever truly complete, and Jenn and Tyler admit that they’re always looking forward to the creative process of a new project. For now, however, this adapted space is well-suited to the family’s needs. “We work from home, homeschool, and are basically together all the time here,” Tyler says. “We’re a good unit.”

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