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Hilltop Haven

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by Megan Venable | Photography by Ben Finch, Finch Photo

Shannon Foster-Boline was not looking for a home when she toured Hilltop in Friendsville in 2021, rather she was preparing to be the listing agent for the impending sale. But she knew there was something special and brought her wife, Beth to tour the home. When the two walked in the front door, they both were crying joyful tears by the time they got to the fireplace and knew they were home. They made fast friends with the previous owners who still often visit their old home and marvel at the improvements the two have made to the house and gardens. “We didn’t downsize, we up-sized,” Shannon says about their move from their West Hills home. “We want to fill this house up. We had to get a bigger goldfish bowl,” she laughs referring to the hopes for future grandchildren.

“Our biggest concern when we moved here initially was how long the drive from Friendsville to Knoxville would be,” Beth says. “Within three days we were glad to be out of the heavier Knoxville traffic.” Shannon and Beth are celebrating their two-year anniversary in the house this June, and still enjoy the amazing view of the mountains as much as the first time they laid eyes on their sweeping landscape. “Watching the horses graze gives me so much joy,” Shannon says of the neighboring farm. 

A self-described “garden nerd,” Shannon has spent, and will continue to spend, copious amounts of time designing and implementing her long-term plan for the working gardens, as well as the pleasure gardens. “One of my favorite things is to grow food and flowers and take them inside and use them,” Shannon says. For instance, their most recent Easter dinner was based entirely on what was available in the garden. “I secretly buy plants that I have to hide from Beth when I come home,” she jokes.

One of the changes they made to the house was a partial remodel of the kitchen and butler’s pantry that included updates to the counters, cooktop/oven, sink and faucets to brighten and update the spaces. Shannon enjoys following recipes and preparing gourmet meals, whereas Beth claims to be the resident “short-order cook” as well as “groundskeeper.” “We can both go our own ways, and we know what each person is going to do and make it all come together,” Shannon says about their partnership in improving the house and gardens. “Our home is a reflection of us."



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