Ron Pongetti's North Chattanooga house sits below street level, down a flight of rickety steps.
"There's 21 steps from the road to the house," he noted.
The house is a small structure built in 1926. Pongetti has done considerable work on the home to accommodate his needs, including remodeling the kitchen and adding on a master suite.
In order to begin the house addition, the first step was to dig into the ground. To give a bit of variety, Pongetti and builder Jonathan Clardy decided to create the master suite on a slightly different level from the rest of the house, just one step up.
With decor to complement the earthy tones of the rest of the house, the master suite includes two closets, one a walk-in, and a bathroom. A stained-glass window has been installed in the bathroom and two windows in the bedroom overlook the garden. Pongetti said he wanted to avoid what he called "the trailer look." Having multiple windows to both let in natural light and give a view of the outside property was important to him.
"I didn't want just one window in the front," he said.
The bedroom, as well as other spaces in the house, boasts accents of cotton seed pods, an homage to Pongetti's childhood spent on a cotton farm in Mississippi.
The living room, once carpeted, now shows gleaming hardwood floors, which he had installed when he moved into the house in 1996.
Pongetti said he wrestled with the idea of removing the original brick fireplace, but after his friends insisted it gave the house a strong sense of character, he opted to keep it.
The living room, kitchen and den areas are all interconnected. A wall was removed separating the kitchen and living room to open up the space. The kitchen was modernized with an oak countertop, mosaic glass back-splashes and stainless steel appliances. The oven and stovetop sits in a small alcove, which backs on to a breakfast bar in the den. A person busy with cooking can talk to people in both the living room and the den, an ideal layout for a small party.