historic homes

When your home invites you to grow

Ashley's home: 1927

Ashley's home: 1927

This month we had the pleasure of talking with the lovely Ashley Wells and touring her beautiful home. She owns a gem of a house in East Knoxville where she lives with her adorable pup Junnie and 3 good friends. The home itself is full of history and character. The previous owners even put together a file of pictures of the family who built the house back in 1927 along with the history of the home and the original blueprints.  

This table was original to the home!

This table was original to the home!

The original owners of the home: The Cunningham Family

The original owners of the home: The Cunningham Family

One of the reasons we wanted to interview Ashley is because her home has been an outlet for her and a respite for many. She remarked that her home has given her the space to host a myriad of events and people and has allowed her to grow and become more open as a person. I was so intrigued by the way she spoke about her home being an agent of change for the way she views hospitality and community. Ashley's home has been the site of all kinds of events. From house concerts to baby showers, Ashley has hosted it all. 

Dining Room

Dining Room

Foyer

Foyer

Entry Way

Entry Way

Let me set the scene for you. On an unsuspecting road in East Knoxville, up a hill and behind a grove of tree's, sits a beautiful, historic home with elegance dripping from the rooftop. Ashley has done an incredible job of making a gorgeous and glamorous home feel inviting and unassuming (which can be hard to do!) Ashley has a great eye and her taste is well exhibited in her house. After living in a loft in the old city for 6 years, Ashley bought her home which sits on a 5+ acre plot with a hillside, fruit tree grove, and the most beautiful (and massive) magnolia I have ever seen. Talk about a change of scenery! Living in the city is very different from occupying a property where your closest neighbor is down the road, but Ashley wouldn't trade her Mt. LeConte view.

Image by  Texture Photo    This beautiful Magnolia was planted the year the house was built.

Image by Texture Photo 

This beautiful Magnolia was planted the year the house was built.

Of all the things Ashley has learned through the process of owning a home, she said learning the value of hard work and the sense of ownership that comes along with pouring your time into caring for a home and acreage, has been a life lesson. Her favorite thing about the house is the openness of the main floor. "I can invite as many people over as I want, all at the same time!" Ashley's home feels like a huge family reunion (in the best way) wrapped up in walls and a roof. Her hope is that people feel a sense of welcome, that they could walk in without knocking, or drop by unannounced and feel right at home. 

Ashley's home has such an intentionally beautiful feel to it and I asked her how she maintains balance in creating beauty but not letting it dictate her life. She responded with some great advice, "The second it becomes un-fun, is the second you need to take a step back. You've got to learn to love the imperfections!"

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

Living Room 

Living Room 

Built in detail

Built in detail

Often times, people (women especially) work hard on their homes to impress other people, or to meet an unrealistic expectation but Ashley seems to do a great job of working on her home in a life giving way. She's found the balance of enjoying the projects but not letting them get in the way of living life. One of the biggest lessons she has learned in home ownership is that you can't be afraid to ask for help. Whether it's calling friends to come hang out for a weed pulling party, or opening her home to room mates who help share the work load, she has found that doing house/yard work is way more fun and less overwhelming when you are not doing it alone. Amen to that! 

 
Ashley in her bedroom -- that wallpaper is to die for!  Image by  Texture Photo

Ashley in her bedroom -- that wallpaper is to die for!

Image by Texture Photo

I asked Ashley a lot about her decorating style because I was basically drooling the whole time. One thing that was particularly interesting was the fact that she noted how much her home has changed depending on who is living there. She's had several different room mates over the years and said that the feel of the home shifts depending on the people that occupy it and the things they bring into it. I love that concept--that the people make up the home rather than a home defining the people.

Most importantly, home ownership has been an empowering experience for Ashley. "It's been hard but rewarding. I've learned to give myself grace, that life is more enjoyable when I'm not aiming for perfection. I've come to recognize that a house; that decor, is such a small thing when you look at life in terms of the big picture. I'd rather spend my time and energy enjoying the people around me. As long as my home fosters community and creates space for people to know and enjoy each other, that's what really matters to me."

Image by  Texture Photo

Image by Texture Photo

Thanks so much Ashley for inviting us into your home!

Old North Knoxville Home Tour

Image from  Victorian Holiday Home Tour  505 East Scott Ave.

Image from Victorian Holiday Home Tour 505 East Scott Ave.

Each month we try to feature a home tour on our blog. We love being able to hear about what "home" means to different people and we treasure the relational aspect of being invited into someones house. This month we offer you something a little different. If you have never attended the Old North Knoxville Home Tour, we highly recommend it. We attended this past weekend and have pictures and ideas to share with you. Although each of these homes was built around the same time period, in the same Victorian style, it was neat to see how each homeowner's personal taste and style came out in the decor.

303 Oklahoma Ave

303 Oklahoma Ave

302 E. Scott Ave

302 E. Scott Ave

We asked each home owner two questions,  "What do you love about your home?" and "What makes your home unique?". We got a wide variety of answers and loved hearing about the many renovation experiences and processes of restoring historic homes. Below are a few of our favorite responses. Enjoy!

"What we love most about our home is that we were able to take something neglected and dirty that most people would turn away from and rehab it into the gorgeous home it was intended to be. " (Leslie M.)

Photo by Alan Sims : Inside Knoxville 204 E. Oklahoma St.

Photo by Alan Sims : Inside Knoxville 204 E. Oklahoma St.

"Our home is unique because it has a distinct juxtaposition of modern and traditional features. We kept the rooms in our house segmented (vs. an hgtv-esque open concept) because each room in our house serves a specific purpose. All of our doorways are very tall and wide, so our rooms still feel open without sacrificing purpose. We believe that old homes should be maintained to serve their original purpose, and at the time of construction, our home would have been very modern and featured the best of the best. We tried to echo this in our renovations and do a modern interpretation of a Victorian home- we put new light fixtures where original light fixtures were placed, moved walls and doorways to original locations, and designed the home so that the purpose of each room was consistent with the original design. Maintaining historical features was very important to us, and we kept this in mind as we gave modern interpretations and new life to our home." (Leslie M.)

"We rarely ever turn a light on during the day. The huge windows let natural light abound and breathe such life into these old walls and hardwoods. That's what I love most." (Jenna V.)

302 E. Scott Ave

302 E. Scott Ave

302 E. Scott Ave

302 E. Scott Ave

302 E. Scott Ave.

302 E. Scott Ave.

"The thing we love most about our home is the neighborhood! Old North, with its gracious front porches and proximity to Happy Holler businesses means that you are always meeting a friend or neighbor as you walk down the street. Everyone here is so friendly and we love having impromptu dinner and drinks on our front porch with friends.  (Cat S.)

221 E. Oklahoma

221 E. Oklahoma

221 E Oklahoma

221 E Oklahoma

221 E. Oklahoma

221 E. Oklahoma

"Our house is filled with art and antiques, made by and gifted by family and friends. We also have many souvenirs of our travels together as a family. We think that these personal touches bring warmth to the space, and remind us of our favorite people and places every day. Our house is unique in that it hasn't been "remuddled" like some Victorians--we enjoy the original fireplaces and woodwork of the home and all of its original bones. We are also lucky to have an unusually wide front porch, which means that it can function as an extra room in our home--we have a "living room" with a sectional and a dining area out there that we use all the time when the weather is nice!" (Cat S.)

225 E. Oklahoma St

225 E. Oklahoma St

225 E. Oklahoma St

225 E. Oklahoma St

225 E. Oklahoma St.

225 E. Oklahoma St.

We loved seeing how creative people were able to get with their space. Some of our favorite ideas were using old mantels to create faux fireplaces, making great use out of porches and outdoor areas to extend living spaces, using a ladder as vertical (and pretty) storage to hang blankets, and utilizing architectural salvage as art and decor.

If you would like a home by home review of the tour, check out Inside of Knoxville's blog. Pt. 1Pt.2