Palmer Residence

Chattanooga, TN

Built in 1900, the classic American foursquare was acquired by the current owners in 2005. At that time, the house was split into four apartments and had been multifamily since the 1920s. The owners made renovations to the two upper floor units to create a flat for their young family and spent the next seven years chipping away at repairs – porch roof, rotted sills, house roof, etc. – before finances allowed them to complete the full renovation over a six month period.

The renovation philosophy was based on subtraction, i.e., subtracting the additional walls and utilities that had made the house a series of apartments and capitalizing on the large existing windows and create an open concept living space. New plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems were installed throughout. The house had never had central heating or cooling, so duct work was accommodated in the basement and attic. A long, custom kitchen design affords multiple workstation opportunities and provides the cooking zone with its own sink and garbage/recycling station separate from the primary sink and dishwasher zone.

The house is located on a steep lot in St. Elmo, a designated Local Historic District, which required that historical exterior details be respected, repaired and replicated as needed. The owners chose to repair the original windows and had new custom wood windows built to match in the areas where original windows had been removed to accommodate the apartment configurations. A narrow bridge, built during the house’s multifamily era to allow upper-floor unit access, was replaced with a wider design that allows easy access from the site’s rear, off-alley parking, while providing plenty of space to add seating.

The resulting four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home is open and bright – taking advantage of natural daylighting and beautiful views of Lookout Mountain – and ready to weather another 100+ years.