IF YOU GO
What: Freedoms Foundation Tour of Homes
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
HOMES ON THE TOUR
Home of James Mullenix: 3096 Reflecting Drive, Chattanooga (Home open until 7 p.m.)
Home of Dana and Sheila Boyington: 3406 Enclave Bay Drive, Chattanooga (Home open until 7 p.m.)
Home of Michael and Teresa Dinger: 5841 North Park Road, Hixson
Home of Bill and Pam Bratton: 1016 Reunion Drive, Chattanooga
Home of Mary and John Cooper: 417 Frazier Ave., Apt. 202, Chattanooga
When Mary and John Cooper welcome guests, she said, they often hear a similar reaction: "I didn't know contemporary could be so comfortable."
The Coopers' Frazier Avenue condominium will be open to visitors today as part of the Freedoms Foundation's Tour of Homes.
The tour will raise money for local students to attend a leadership summit in Valley Forge, Pa.
Club members referred homeowners to tour organizers to select stops along the tour.
"They're beautiful homes," said Jeanne Abbott, vice president of publicity for the Freedoms Foundation.
Including a condominium, such as the Coopers', is "new for us," Abbott said.
The couple, who have six grown children and eight grandchildren, relocated to North Chattanooga from Soddy-Daisy.
"We're in a new phase," Mrs. Cooper said. "It seems like we're 40 but at 70."
Marrying contemporary style with homey warmth was important, said Mrs. Cooper. "If you have something contemporary and it doesn't have color, it makes it cold."
Color is incorporated throughout the apartment. The guest bedroom features a green, red, white and black motif and pays homage to nature. Swatches of fabric adorned with poppies are framed above the bed like paintings. The apple-green bathroom wall is decorated with white, magnetic blossoms.
In the master bedroom, red accents and bronze add warmth to the blue walls.
Warm colors also rule in the living area, which includes an open kitchen and dining space, as well as living area. The kitchen features stained maple cabinets, which are set off by red, yellow and orange accents. The yellow sofa and red chairs complement the wall decor.
The Coopers have added additional decorations for the holiday season, including several manger scenes, whimsical Santa towels and, of course, a tree. Most of the ornaments, Mrs. Cooper said, were made by her children.
A teardrop-shaped clay ornament, painted orange, red and yellow, represents a flame. It was made by their only daughter, more than two decades ago, to honor her father. Mr. Cooper is a retired firefighter.
All the houses on the tour are decorated for Christmas, Abbott said, to add to the holiday spirit.
A home tour can be a great way to see other people's perspectives on home building and decor, she said.
"A lot of people enjoy going to other houses to see how they look as far as decorations in the normal day, as well as how they're decorated for Christmas," she said. "A lot of folks enjoy going through houses because they don't get that opportunity real often."
Cooper said decorating her home was something she had a natural eye for. And while interior decorating might not be as instinctive for her husband as for her, she said he has "gotten much more creative."
Most importantly, they agreed, they are having fun in their space.
"It's just fun to be together," said Mrs. Cooper of her time with her husband of 51 years.
"It doesn't seem like [that long] though," he remarked.
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...