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VIP at Home: The Fieldens



Story by Gay Lyons || Photography by Ben Finch

Joe and Katharine Fielden would love to know the identity of the architect who designed their family’s newly renovated home in Sequoyah Hills.

“We think it might be a Barber McMurry house,” said Joe. “It’s an original Sequoyah Hills house built in 1927.” Joe and Katharine and their three children are enjoying their first summer in the home.

“Things are blooming,” said Katharine. “I’m figuring out what’s out here.”

Amelia, age 11, Joseph, age 9 and Kenneth George, age 4, are having fun exploring the outdoor spaces and swimming in the backyard pool. A focal point on the side lawn is Amelia’s play house, a recent birthday gift.

The home is a dramatic change from their previous residence, a condo on the 11th floor of the Holston Building downtown.

“We loved living downtown,” said Katharine. “I fell in love with Knoxville when I went to UT. I’m from Asheville, and I was never going to live in a city smaller than Asheville. We were one of the first to buy in the Holston. We’re still close to downtown, and we love the diversity of Sequoyah Hills. No house is the same. The neighbors are all different.”

“It’s the best of both worlds,” said Joe. “We love taking the kids on the greenway. We can still pop downtown. We have a golf cart we can drive to the Plaid Apron.” The Fieldens moved into the home in October 2017, following three months of renovation.

“We loved the original bones of the house,” said Katharine. “It just needed to be freshened up.”

"We painted the whole house the same color, so it would flow,” said Joe. “And we lightened up the exterior, which had been brown and hunter green. We refinished the original floors. That was a project.”

“We loved that it was such a good family home,” said Katharine, “but there was no family room. We took down walls between the former office and the morning room and the morning room and the kitchen.”

The result is a light-filled comfortable space that flows from kitchen to morning room to family room.

The master bedroom had matching floral fabric at the windows and on the walls.

“We kept the draperies, which I liked,” said Katharine. “We took the fabric off the walls and used it for accent bedding and pillows.”

There are several dining areas ranging from the formal dining room with its hand-me-down Italian table from Joe’s parents and George III inlaid mahogany 18th century British sideboard to the keeping room with cozy corner built-in table and bench seating that is the favorite choice for family dinners.

A bar in the kitchen offers additional casual dining space with four family-friendly bar stools with backs made from pitchforks. The top of the dining table on the veranda belonged to Senator Howard Baker; the Fieldens added a new base.

Katharine relies on Brian Valentine and Will Grubbs of Law’s Interiors for decorating advice and has purchased many pieces locally from Bennett Galleries, but she has her own style.

“I like traditional décor, but not too traditional,” said Katharine. “I like eclectic. I’m very particular about the pieces we choose.”

“I want interesting pieces,“ she continued. “I love the carved animals on the feet of the Black Forest hunt table from Bavaria that sits in the foyer. I like details; I like old pieces. I like things that are handcrafted. I’m a sucker for anything antique. I think it makes sense to combine the old and the new.”

“At first I wanted to take down the crystal sconces in the foyer,” said Katharine, "but I’m so glad I didn’t. I like them with the shield-shaped mirror we bought.”

“We buy art one piece at a time,” she said. “Our art is based on what I like. I like pieces as original as they can be. I’m more about the colors. I like a mix of serious and fun pieces.”

“We’re in no rush to fill the house with art,” said Joe. “It’ll happen.”

“I feel like you need to live in a home so you can see what it’s saying to you,” said Katharine. “Listen to what it’s got to say.”

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