By Karin Glendenning
Community News Writer
In 1975 Karen and Dan LaGraff bought their home in North Chattanooga. Over the years they have refurbished, remodeled and added on to the structure several times.
The house, built in 1932, is a frame bungalow on a shady and quiet street in one of Chattanooga’s most popular neighborhoods. It has a large yard, surrounded by a crisp white picket fence and lots of flowers.
Mr. LaGraff has terraced the yard, adding more usable space to the side and back with walls, some built of interlocking retaining blocks and others from old telephone poles he collected. He also salvages trees to use in the home’s wood-burning furnace, which supplements the central gas unit, and spends much of his free time splitting the wood into logs.
A free-standing deck on one side of the house has a high roof that covers a hot tub. It’s a spot where the couple enjoys relaxing and entertaining friends, Mrs. LaGraff said, adding that it’s especially fun when the weather is chilly. “We even use it when it snows,” she said.
On the back of the house is a large screened porch, just a few steps from the kitchen and breakfast room. A sofa and chairs make the porch a retreat on all but the hottest days and the adjoining deck is a place for grilling with more seating to accommodate the family and their friends.
It’s obvious from the healthy houseplants inside and the many pots of flowers on the front porch, deck and screened porch that Mrs. LaGraff has a green thumb. The bright plumage of a large croton plant, which she said she has raised for 20 years, brightens a corner of the sunroom, an addition the LaGraffs made at one end of the dining room. Mr. LaGraff laid the crab orchard stone floor himself.
When the LaGraffs bought the house, they stripped all the woodwork in the living room and sandblasted the fireplace to expose the original bricks. They also refinished the home’s hardwood floors.
The main floor of the house includes a living room, dining room, sunroom, kitchen, breakfast room and three bedrooms. In the basement are a den and another bedroom. Across the back of the house is a large screened porch and adjoining deck that look out onto a wooded area beyond.
“We did a large majority of the work ourselves,” said Mrs. LaGraff about their renovations and additions.
Throughout the house are many family photos and memorabilia from travels. “I put my personality into my decorating,” Mrs. LaGraff said, adding that it’s an activity both she and her husband enjoy. On the walls in their breakfast room hang antique tools, baskets and artwork by their three sons.
The next project the LaGraffs plan to tackle is turning a guest room into a master bath and making a closet where the bath currently is. One of the trials of an older home is its lack of big closets, Mrs. LaGraff said, and she’s looking forward to having more storage.
Though their neighborhood may be seasoned, it is full of the charm that only older homes bring and the LaGraffs are planning to stay where they are for the foreseeable future.
E-mail Karin Glendenning at email@example.com