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Light and Warmth Come Together in Grace Jansen's Home in Northshore Town Center



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Story by Gay Lyons | Photography by Ben Finch

Grace Jansen, ready to downsize and move from West Knoxville to downtown, was skeptical when her realtor suggested stopping by Northshore Town Center first.

“I said, ‘There’s nothing left there,’” she remembered, “but my timing was brilliant. Construction [in the planned urban-style suburban neighborhood] takes place in phases. They were just getting ready to start Phase 2. Phase 3 will start soon.”

“I was inspired by some existing homes in the neighborhood,” she continued, “but we tailored the plans to what I wanted.”

And Grace knew exactly what she wanted in her 2300 square foot custom home.

“I like to entertain,” she said. “And I was on a budget. I decided to pour all my money into the kitchen and the bathroom. I wanted the open floor plan. If you’re not going to have a huge home, you need to use the whole space.”

“I grew up in Chicago in a nice house” she said, “but it was very dark. I like light. I feel good in light. I said to Mike [owner of Mike Stevens Homes in Northshore Town Center], ‘Put in as many windows as you can.’”

Also helping to make the space feel light and airy are 10 foot ceilings (standard in the neighborhood), light-colored walls, woodwork and kitchen cabinets and curtains that provide privacy but let in light.

The home also reflects the passion Grace, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, has for all forms of art, a passion that has recently led her to offer art classes to adults.

“I run the classes very unconventionally,” she said. “Everyone works at their own pace, using whatever materials they like. It’s a time to slow down and get back to your creative side.”

“Early on I said, ‘I’ve got to sexy up the outside,‘” said Grace, “so I asked my friend Steven Hackney [owner of Steven Hackney Landscape Architecture] for help. He was instrumental in how this was going to play out. Everyone else here has [privacy] fences, but instead of fences, we put in shrubbery.”

“Since there are only two houses on my street, Steven said ‘You’ve got to get your neighbors on board,’” she continued. “All it took was one phone call. They were happy to join us in the project.”

For the interior of the home, Grace turned to her friend, interior designer Morena Constantinou.

“Morena was instrumental,” said Grace. “We have similar taste so that worked out great. She gets a lot of credit for the light fixtures. When it came to lighting, I felt really lost.”

Grace also turned to Chris Davis and Craig Shelton of The Drawing Room for linens and a few other things.

“In a small home, you need focal points,” she said. “The dining room table, the textured rug in the living area, the leathered granite countertops, the master shower door and the wood and wire bannister leading to the second floor are focal points.”

Grace brought warmth to the space with her choice of flooring, caramel-colored leather bar stools and the fireplace mantle crafted from wood from a 100 year old barn in Maryville.

The open kitchen/living/dining area and master suite are on the first floor; Grace’s “hang out space,” including her art table and two guest bedrooms for her daughters (Nicole, 26 and Melina, 24) occupy the second floor.

“This would be a great house for a small family or for someone who doesn’t do well on stairs,” said Grace.

Not that she’s planning on leaving any time soon..

“I love living here,” said Grace. “It’s probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

 

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