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Family Christmas: The Taylors are Ready for Santa

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Story by Gay Lyons | Photography by Thelen Wright

Lynn Taylor described the home she shares with husband Mark, their four children--Hudson, Brody, Vivienne and Penn--and two dogs as “a constant revolving door, always very lively.” When the couple chose to build on five acres in West Knoxville, they had a vision that could only be achieved by buying a large amount of land and creating a home to meet their needs.

“I always wanted to build a house,” said Mark. “We had redone a few homes, but we wanted to build a place where we can entertain. We love having people over. We love to travel and we like places that are unique. We felt like we needed to build to get that.”

“We wanted a house where people would be comfortable and loved,” said Lynn. “We wanted a lot of open space. We didn’t want a formal dining room.” 

“We wanted land,” she continued. “We wanted acreage for our children to play. They’ll go out in the front yard and play football for hours. We wanted our kids to be outside and be kids.”

To build their dream home, the Taylors worked with Daria Krol, co-founder and lead designer for R2R Studio. “I had drawn it all out on a piece of paper,” said Mark. “Daria turned it into a plan. Stacy Jacobi was designer for the build. She helped us a lot.”

About four years ago Lynn started working with Margaret Rigsby of Taylor and Huie. “She did my mother-in-law’s house, and I loved it,” said Lynn. “She got me and our style. We have a lot of fun together.”

“I have the best time picking out things for them,” said Rigsby. “They’re willing to take a risk. I love finding unique and special things for them. One of the cool things is that it’s pretty much a blank slate, a monotone kind of box. It gave us latitude.”

“It’s an active home,” she added. “We had to keep that in mind.”

The 6,000 square foot house has plenty of room for a family of six and their friends. The home has six bedrooms and a basement bunk room that sleeps six. Each child has a bedroom. Penn, the youngest, has the largest room.

“He’s our last baby,” said Lynn. “We gave him the biggest room because he’s going to be here the longest. It made everyone mad.”

Vivienne loves her feminine room with its pink and orange color scheme. The master bedroom, which has a private balcony and a large en suite bath, was designed as a sanctuary.

“We have four children, so we wanted our own space,” said Lynn. “We’re outnumbered.”

“We wanted a room that felt like we were on vacation somewhere,” added Mark. In December the Taylors’ home puts on a festive show with decor that includes four full-size trees from Taylor and Huie, numerous small trees, indoor and outdoor wreaths, a growing collection of vintage ornaments, family pieces and handmade items. The tree in the living room is decorated with Mark’s grandmother’s vintage ornaments, which inspired Lynn to search for more of those. The charming German smokers (actually incense pots) in the kitchen honor Lynn’s family who came from Germany. The nativity scene in the living room, which belonged to Mark’s grandmother, came from Africa, something made all the more special now as the Taylors’ daughter Vivienne came from Ethiopia.

“The older I’ve gotten, I’ve gotten more appreciation of where things come from and where our families come from,” said Lynn.

A plate of Lynn’s Aunt Jean’s sugar cookies sits on the kitchen island next to small silvery trees. “They have pale green frosting with a dusting of sugar,” said Lynn. “They are fabulous cookies. They need to be sold at a bakery.”

“I didn’t grow up with a lot of Christmas traditions,” she continued. “Mark loves Christmas. He learned from Cheryl, his mother. She’s taught me a lot. Traditions have become important.”

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