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Hello City Life! Bobby Brown and Todd Richesin’s new pied a terre gives them the best of city and country living

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By Gay Lyons | Photography by Ben Finch, Finch Photo

After leaving their home in the Old City for their suburban home, Casa Real, in west Knoxville in 2004, Bobby Brown and Todd Richesin have embraced city life again with a new pied a terre that allows them to experience what they love about both locations.

With the assistance of realtor Lucas Haun, Bobby and Todd looked at a lot of places downtown before making an offer on their 1,862 square foot space in the Burwell Building overlooking Gay Street.

“With the light and the windows, this one just felt right,” said Bobby. “This one was meant to be.”

“He didn’t even walk all the way in,” added Todd. “He didn’t even make it into the foyer.”

“We have 11 windows, so there’s natural light throughout the space,” continued Bobby. “It’s very open. There are not a lot of hallways, which wastes a lot of space. And there are only 20 units in the building, so it’s very quiet.”

Bobby and Todd purchased the unit in September 2020, began renovation in October and moved into the space in January 2021.

“This was our pandemic project,” said Bobby. “We couldn’t travel. It was fun because we tried to do something different than what we have at home. We’ve collected local art, and the art is
more modern than what we have at home. I wanted it to look less traditional. We’ve added modern furniture pieces.”

“We tried to use modern lighting,” he continued. “There’s not as much stuff. It has an
airy feel. We wanted it to feel relaxing.”

“It’s a modern mix, using traditional items and contemporary pieces,” added Todd.

They did not make many structural changes. The biggest change was turning a two bedroom unit into a one bedroom unit with a large dressing room. There are two full baths, both of which were dramatically renovated, with the master bath being completely reconfigured.

The kitchen was enlarged, and a pantry was turned into a bar. The look of the kitchen was updated with black marble flooring, quartzite waterfall island and black lacquered cabinets. The new bar was given extra pizzazz. 

“Because of the curved wall, you can’t hang art,” said Todd, “so we chose bold black and white Brasilia wallpaper from Flavor Paper.”

Some small changes made a big difference. Reconfiguring the steps adjacent to the kitchen added space and increased functionality. “Moving the ductwork in the second bathroom (located off a hallway between the kitchen and the master suite) up by only two inches totally changed the feel of the space,” they said. The second bath was dressed up with a small vanity, which replaced a pedestal sink, a glass enclosed shower and a fish-patterned wallpaper by de Gournay, described as a ‘splurge.’ “It gives the room the feel of an aquarium,” said Todd.

There is ample space to entertain. “Mostly it’s just us or one or two couples,” said Bobby, “but it also holds a lot of people.”

There is no dining room, but the round pedestal table in the entry can be used as a dining table seating six. The side of the condo facing Gay Street is over 50 feet long. The entry flows into a large space that has been divided into living room and den areas through the use of different rugs and furniture. Two identical contemporary light fixtures unify the space.

Bobby and Todd are enjoying all that city life offers. “We go to plays at the Tennessee Theatre,” said Bobby. “We’ve started going to the Symphony. We love to eat out. We watch the marathon runners, the bicyclists and the fireworks.”

“I love the views,” said Todd. “The sunrise out the back and the sunsets out the front are gorgeous. And the fall colors were beautiful this year.”

“This place enables us to take a break, to slow down,” said Bobby.

“I like it that it feels like we’re doing something, going somewhere,” said Todd. “It’s something to look forward to.”

Don’t expect them to choose one home over another any time soon. For now, they’re enjoying having two choices in the same town.

“I look forward to coming downtown,” said Todd, “and then I’m ready to go home.”

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