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Stunning Simplicity

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By Gay Lyons | Photography by Ben Finch

Standing in the main living area of her contemporary 5800 square foot home in West Knoxville, Paula Chesworth, vice-president of e-commerce at KaTom Restaurant Supply, says she fell in love with the land first, something that surprised her.

”I grew up on 30 acres in Morristown,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d ever want a lot of land again. It’s so much work. Then I found this land that was so close to town and yet it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. My son loves nature and the outdoors, so it made sense.”

After purchasing the three acre triangular lot, which is wider at the front and slopes into a peak at the rear, she worked with architect Jonathan Miller and builder Chuck Adkins to create a home for her and her son Jack, age 10 and Winston, their Lagotto Romagnolo, a breed best known for hunting truffles.

Paula had previously worked with the duo, but “it was very different,” she said. “Before it was a subdivision lot. This lot was complicated. We built this to fit the land.” Landscape architect Stephen Hackney designed the outdoor spaces around the home.

Paula really wanted a one story house, and though she was persuaded to add a downstairs, she realized her vision of having everything she and Jack need on the main floor: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, living and dining areas and a large laundry room. “When the laundry room was framed, I thought it was too big,” said Paula. “Since we’ve moved in I’ve never thought that. I wanted everything of Winston’s to be in here.”

Paula hired interior designer Helen Davis after visiting a home she designed in the Hamptons. “She did the home of a good friend in Southampton. It was the most beautiful house I’d ever seen.”

The home was a blank slate. Paula brought almost nothing from her previous home. “I like neutrals. I feel like I have a style that I like, but my taste had changed so much over the years. I wanted to start fresh.”

The kitchen was at the center of Paula’s planning. “The view and the functionality drove the design,” she said. “I cook a ton, and I knew I was the one who would host the family get-togethers. I really wanted a functional kitchen. My mother has a huge kitchen, but you can never find anything. I wanted to know where everything is. We decided what was going to be in every cabinet.”

The kitchen has a place for everything, including a special drawer filled with matching jars that hold Jack’s favorite snacks and one designed to hold a roll of paper towels with room built in for extra rolls. Consideration of form and functionality led Paula to take her decorator’s advice and place a large wall sized wine cooler at the end of the hall connecting the bedrooms to the living areas. “My decorator said art is expensive. You can use the wine as decor.”

Paula has started collecting art but is taking her time. “I don’t want it to be cluttered,” she said. “I’m definitely a minimalist. I wanted to move in and figure it out as we go.”

Her first art purchase hangs over the fireplace in the master bedroom. She worked with art consultant Julie Wynn Jones to find the painting by California artist Isabella Innis. “I don’t think I would have picked this by myself,” she said, “but it really makes the room.”

Her largest piece of art hangs in the dining area, visible from the front entry. “Early on in the design process, we were talking about colors, and I fell in love with the works of William McClure. I knew I wanted something massive.

His standard size, 108” x 72”, was not big enough” The abstract painting she commissioned is 130” x 84”. Paula is still figuring out the best use of the space downstairs, other than nicely appointed guest rooms, one specially designed with her mother in mind. A space intended to be a golf cart garage has been set up as Jack’s art room. “It could eventually be my workout room,” said Paula.

Functionality remains paramount. “I wanted spaces that were multi-purpose and multi-functional,” said Paula. “I wanted multi-use spaces. I’ve been really happy with it. I’m proud of all the thought we put into this house. It lives well.”

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