Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects
Nestled in the magnificent beauty of the Telliquah preserve just one hour outside of Chattanooga, George and Ellen Wright’s chic cabin marries an appreciation for the area’s natural scenery with contemporary design. Designed under the vision and leadership of Craig Kronenberg and Daniel Oakley of Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects, the 2,500 square-foot cabin seems as natural to the landscape as the Tellico River on which it rests. Yet while its traditional exterior is reminiscent of a mountain fishing cottage, a closer look shows the home features fresh design concepts and the finest modern amenities—from contemporary lighting, to use of recycled materials, to modern, utilitarian-style furnishings.
The Wrights’ Contemporary Cabin on the Telliquah Preserve
By Laura Childers
Photography by Med Dement
Full PDF here.
The cabin comes into view after walking across a magnificent covered bridge that leads into the preserve. Telliquah, Cherokee for “gathering place,” pays homage to the area’s history: the nearby town of Tellico Plains was once a gathering place for the Cherokee nation. Today, Tellico Plains is a quaint riverside community that sits at the gateway of the southern Cherokee National Forest. The Wrights’ residence, completed in 2009 with the help of Raines Brothers Construction, is oriented to the river; the home was artfully situated to preserve all of the surrounding magnificent trees. The main structure is made of dark stained cedar siding with gray metal roofing, while the foundations, fireplace, exterior columns, and terraces leading down to the river are clad in mountain stone. The layout is organized around a large screened porch with a translucent roof that fills the cabin with natural light. Scored concrete is used for all exterior walkways, one of which leads to a detached one-car garage. A breezy, modified dogtrot divides the combined living-dining-kitchen area and upstairs sleeping loft from the master bedroom, guest bedroom, and storage loft. Both primary spaces have steep pitched roofs with spaces of 302 square feet tucked into them, which can be accessed by an alternating tread stair and steel ladder.
One step inside the foyer and guests are greeted by a comforting array of rich, warm woods used throughout the interior’s open, multipurpose floor plan. The home’s custom doors shipped from Wisconsin and flooring are made of reclaimed heart pine, while its walls are framed with yellow pine and spruce. “We wanted a warm look, but we didn’t want all wood because someone said it would look like the inside of a cigar box,” George explains. The living room’s ceiling is made of stained and sealed tongue and groove spruce with exposed red oak timber rafters harvested 10 miles from the site. Ellen explains that the wood emphasis was inspired by a photo Craig Kronenberg showed her of an ultra-modern home in Scandinavia. “The home juxtaposed honey-colored woods inside with a dark exterior of exposed concrete. I just loved the glimpses of the warm against the dark. It was a big inspiration.”
During the day, sunlight filters in through the home’s casement windows, which are clad in architectural bronze on the exterior and wood frames on the interior. At night, custom cable lighting provides a warm glow that emanates from the home’s vaulted ceilings. A cozy sitting area underneath the vaulted portion of the ceiling is furnished with rattan chairs with checked green cushions and tables made from two large Vietnamese planters. Ellen bought the planters from a friend’s shop in Nashville and had them covered with smoky glass. These are just small tastes of the home’s natural color and fabric scheme. “We wanted the house to reflect the surroundings so we used a lot of earth tones—greens and browns,” Ellen says. “The curtains are mushroom-colored, and the draperies and upholstery are made of indoor-outdoor fabric. I wanted the house to be part of the outdoors, but also low-maintenance, straightforward, and streamlined.”
The dining room portion of the open floor plan is furnished with a custom steel table with a zinc top. Comfortable, fern-colored chairs complement the gray table, and three pendant lights hang above, offering a warm ambiance at family meals. Ellen explains that the lighting was designed by George’s brother-in-law, David Tozer, a museum lighting expert in Washington, D.C. Nearby, the kitchen is outfitted with soapstone countertops, travertine backsplash, stainless steel appliances, and espresso-colored cabinets with stainless steel hardware. On either side of a window above the kitchen sink hangs a drawing by the Wright’s daughter: a charcoal work on the left, and a graphite work on the right. Dinner guests can take a seat on one of three black shaker chairs with woven seats—a model Ellen describes as “utilitarian, simple, and modern”—and enjoy food on a bar top lit by a strip of LED lights. Track lighting illuminates a cozy inglenook situated underneath the upstairs loft. The focal point of the nook is the Wright’s full Rumford fireplace, which has a soapstone mantle and hearth and a stone veneer front from Castone in Maryville, Tenn. The Wrights explain that the firebox’s soapstone lining radiates lots of heat to keep the downstairs rooms cozy and warm in colder months. Two exquisite fish decoys by folk artist David Perkins—one of a trout, and one of a bass—rest on the fireplace mantle. Above the mantle hangs a painting of lichens and mosses on stone by artist Charles Brindley, titled “The Green Man.” Solid oak shelving on either side of the fireplace fits snugly into the stone.
An alternating tread stair from the living room leads to the upstairs sleeping loft situated above the inglenook. “We wanted to be able to comfortably sleep 4 to 6 people,” Ellen explains. The slanted walls of the sleeping loft are made of red oak and spruce, the roofline if the living room continued. The room houses two comfortable-looking twin beds built by the couple inside the room. A strip of mountain stone at the center of the back wall—the chimney that serves the downstairs fireplace–rests in-between two custom-made triangular windows that let in the soft afternoon light. Above the two beds hangs a “Spirit of Nashville” special edition poster by Anderson Design Group. The poster pictures a guitar floating in water—a tribute to people of Nashville who came together to help each other after the 2010 flood. The piece holds a special meaning for the Wrights, who are now 30-year residents of “Music City.” Downstairs again, sliding glass doors open from the main space onto the Wrights’ expansive screened porch. The Wrights say they spend a great deal of time in this room, especially during the beautiful spring and fall seasons. Above, a translucent roof imported from Canada lets in filtered light during the day, while Moser pendant lights from Poulsen Lighting—another also procured by George’s brother-in-law—offer a comfortable glow at night. “If you turn them on at night, they look like floating moons,” Ellen says. “I really love them.” The decks of the screened porch and exterior porch are made of kumaru, a tropical hardwood also known as “Brazilian teak,” while the beams and columns on the home’s exterior porch are made of the same red oak found in the living room.
On the other side of the dogtrot, a hallway leads to a guest bedroom and bathroom, a laundry room, and the master bedroom and bath. The master bedroom has the same cable lighting and heart pine flooring and doors as the other portion of the home. Two colorful wicker chairs with comfortable cushions rest on top of a rug made of natural fibers at the foot of the bed, and screen doors lead out to the outdoor porch. “At night we open the doors and windows and just listen,” Ellen says. To the right, a steel ladder leads to an upstairs storage loft. “We call this the grandchild ladder because you can only be so old going up and down it, but I like to think that if this house got knocked down by a tornado this ladder would still stand,” Ellen says. The master bath and the guest bathroom are both outfitted with slate floors, glass tile, and contemporary lighting fixtures. One bathroom features sand-colored tile and the other, green, while both have beautiful, white, square surface mount sinks and showers with pebble floors. As an added perk, their floors are heated for comfort when the weather gets chilly. Ever the outdoor enthusiasts, the Wrights have been basking in the natural paradise right outside their doorsteps ever since their home on the water’s edge was completed in 2009. Aiming for a home that felt fresh and innovative, yet honored its scenic setting, the Wrights have found a sanctuary in their Tellico cabin’s ideal combo of old and new, dark and light, traditional and rustic. Today, their residence not only pays tribute to the scenic beauty of the preserve at Telliquah, but provides the perfect spot for future generations to delight in the land’s lush landscape for years to come.