Between the Incline Railway and Point Park, the home of Scott and Lisa Maclellan is a gem of the Beaux Arts style with Corinthian columns and balustrades that accent its graceful porches and stately walls of square-cut sandstone.
For much of the century that the house has been a Lookout Mountain landmark, the façade has remained unchanged, but the original home, built by industrialist David Giles, was converted into six apartments during the Great Depression.
"There was nothing fancy about this house. It was clearly built for a man," says Lisa, whose personal taste includes the feminine influences of the Victorian, French and Venetian styles. Scott, a Lookout Mountain native, and Lisa, a Birmingham transplant, surprised themselves when they bought the home at auction in July of 2009. "Scott said, 'What are we going to do with this house?' and I said, 'We're going to live in it,'" says Lisa.
Lucky for the Maclellans, Terry Barker of River Street Architects was already working with the previous owner and had drawn a plan for what the interior may have looked like when it was built. The Maclellans spent two years transforming the house from a no-nonsense apartment building to a luxury residence before they moved in. "Scott said the house had good bones," says Lisa, which was fortunate since the couple's renovation began by stripping the interior of everything but its sandstone walls. "We wondered if it was going to stay standing."
An established-looking garden surrounds the original exterior with evergreens and white blooms, but it was installed only a year ago. Landscape designer Sam Baker started from scratch, using white blooming cherry trees, white Knockout roses, Blushing Bride hydrangeas and Anabelle hydrangeas alongside English boxwoods, ferns, pachysandra and cedars. The slate roof is an addition but old, reclaimed from a Manhattan church.
Lisa took on the interior design herself, handpicking both new and antique materials. "Everything in the house is new to the house," she says. Most of the home's fireplaces are set into a central chimney, and Lisa fixed each of them with an antique mantel. The double-sided fireplace between the parlor and living room has an Italian marble, Louis Philippe I mantel on the living room side and on the parlor side, an antique fire screen and one of Lisa's many 18th-century trumeau mirrors.
Large slabs of Crema Marfil marble make a formal floor for the porch that wraps the exterior, and the same marble is repeated in the kitchen along with Jerusalem Gold limestone. The kitchen's focal point, a La Cornue French oven, is under a hood Lisa designed. Jerusalem Gold also makes a surround for the fireplace in the Country French keeping room adjoining the kitchen. Terry Hudson applied plaster to the walls, then antiqued them and the trim with gold paint.
Elegant lighting is a star in Lisa's design. She found period French, Belgian and Italian crystal chandeliers through stateside dealers like Clements in Chattanooga and others in Birmingham and Palm Beach. Most rooms have a chandelier, which gives cohesion to the overall look of the interior along with her tone on tone color scheme in linen and dove white.
Craftsmen and contractors played an invaluable role in the renovation process. Richard Keith Langham is working on draperies that will complete the interior, and Lamar Orr of Southeastern Stair and Millwork fashioned the marble staircase that ascends in a relaxed spiral to the third floor with an iron handrail made by Sam Dunwoody, who also made railings for the courtyard. Besides the grand staircase, an elevator also accesses all three floors through ornate iron and wood doors Lisa designed.
At the top of stairs is Scott's library, the only room exempt from the white on white color scheme. "I think a library should be cozy," says Lisa, and she gave the room coziness with a wall of wood bookshelves and a dark oak mantel contrasting another Jerusalem Gold limestone surround. The second floor is the couple's personal quarters including an extended master suite with a modern bath for him and a romantic boudoir for her. A dressing table with a trumeau mirror displays antique perfume bottles and one of Lisa's dresser sets with a vintage hairbrush and handheld mirror. "I'm an archivist. I collect," she says. Limoges boxes, cherubs and painted porcelain are found here in the boudoir as in other parts of the home.
The master bedroom is done in a late 1700s French style with Venetian elements like a carnival mask and an antique oil painting above the bed. A collection of Capodimonte porcelain dolls is displayed here and in the suite's living area near an armoire from the south of France. Beyond the library is a sitting room with a fireplace and a shabby chic sunroom with wicker furniture and French Rococo chairs.
On the third floor is a work-in-progress family room and four of the home's six bedrooms, including a Victorian nursery. Off the family room, a terrace created by the Maclellans gives them a fantastic view of the valley from the brow.
Lisa is as comfortable in her mountain home as her husband who was raised on Lookout. The surrounding opulent materials and fine craftsmanship of her renovated home suit her, but so do the picturesque views and winter snows. "I feel like my soul's here," she says.