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creative, unique, local homes


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table of contents

Welcome to Our New Abode


4  Locally Grown | Cool housewares and decor from Knoxville designers

If you were visiting Knoxville (or planning to move here) and picked up some of


those handy real estate guides at the grocery store, you might get the impression

6 Fountain City Shaker | Cabinetmaker

that living here means one thing: buying a mini-mansion that’s indistinguishable from your neighbor’s—in a subdivision named after an Olde English village. But there are other options in Knoxville for those who seek living spaces that are creative, modern, unique—you just have to know where to find them. With Abode, we hope to become your guide to finding great home design in Knoxville. Consider this a sneak preview for an ongoing magazine that celebrates the area’s most unique houses—whether they’re floating, tiny, or something else entirely. Plus, we’ll look at the local craftspeople, renovators, innovators, designers, and architects who help make living in Knoxville different from any other place. Got a cool house Knoxville needs to see? A fascinating preservation project? New ideas for sustainable living? Drop us a line at

Daniel F. Duncan creates a classic feel for a modern kitchen | BY DENNIS PERKINS


8  Repurposing History: White Lily Flats | An apartment building that doesn’t ignore its industrial past. | BY TRACY JONES

12  Organically Modern: A Holston River Home | A truly modern home that’s in tune with its landscape. | BY TRACY JONES


16  George Barber’s Final Home | A Parkridge

history sleuth tackles a basket-case preservation project | BY ELEANOR SCOTT


20 Upscale Urban Living Options

And if you happen to own a home design or real estate-related business that needs to reach our audience of discerning consumers, let’s talk! For information about advertising in Abode, contact us at: or 865-313-2048. —Coury Turczyn, editor

Cover Photo by Bruce Cole Abode is a publication of the Knoxville Mercury ©2016 P.O. Box 43, Knoxville, Tenn. 37901 865-313-2059, A BODE

MAY 2016




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Anton Strainer


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Cayce J. Anthony and Aubrey M. Jernigan like to “weave, sew, + dabble in a handful of other activities.” They sell their work (along with items from other artists) online at Kindling House, including unusual wall hangings, knitted throws, and art.

Jordan Wright converts vintage Mason jars into lovely, rustic lamps with a variety of shapely light bulbs. BUY: Local craft fairs (Retropolitan or the Traveling Bazaar) or at INFO:


MAY 2016


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the kitchen

Fountain City Shaker Cabinetmaker Daniel F. Duncan creates a classic feel for a modern kitchen


start a remodel, they may have too much space, so we may to add an island to make it work.“ In this case the owners’ desire for lots of counter space created a wide-open area that they filled with a large island, which Duncan built with wide drawers and electrical outlets to create both a table space and a storage and work area. He was also able to complete the surface with only two boards, which gives the surface a particularly smooth and attractive finish. The cabinetry itself, like the table, is made in a Shaker-style feel from cherry wood finished with a long-lasting conversion varnish, which, as Duncan explains, “has a catalyst that’s added to the finish, so when it goes on it bonds. It’s pretty A BODE

tough stuff. It lasts for a long time, it’s easy to clean; wine doesn’t get on it—it won’t stain. In fact, it can be used as floor finish so that’s how tough this stuff is.” The Shaker style emphasizes utility but, Duncan adds, this design is more of a Shaker feel, which “is fairly simple, but there’s a little more pizazz to it.” As an example, he points out the stainless steel countertops (selected by the owners and made by a local metal fabricator, FourSeasons MetalWorks): “I was concerned about the stainless steel with the Shaker style, but it looks pretty good.” But none of the features detracts from functionality. That’s clear from one of the most useful and nifty aspects of Duncan’s design: a pull-out MAY 2016

Photos by David Luttrell

n To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch famously advises his daughter Scout that, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” That’s true in all sorts of ways. So when Daniel F. Duncan starts to work on a kitchen, he starts by just standing around. “People think I’m crazy at first, because I just walk in and stand around in the kitchen for a long time,” Duncan says. Should you engage Duncan in a consideration of your cooking space, it doesn’t take long to learn that he isn’t thinking about cabinets, per se—instead, he’s thinking about your entire kitchen experience, the way that you live and work in it. One of Duncan’s most recent projects embodies his approach—a remodel of a cramped galley style kitchen in a Fountain City home built in 1929. The owners, desperate for space, had resorted to keeping their microwave at the bottom of the stairs leading to the basement. So, lots of counter space was their first objective—and the best way to achieve that was by adding onto the house; the kitchen is, in fact, an entirely new space. Armed with a rough set of drawings from the architect, Brewer Ingram Fuller, Duncan had an open slate. “In some ways, this was a unique project in that the owners knew what they wanted, but they were open to some suggestions, too. And they were interested in quality,” he says. “It was also unique because it was a really was a big, well-organized kitchen.” The new kitchen occupies about 225 square feet, but all that open space is actually more of challenge than it seems. According to Duncan, “There’s an ideal size for a kitchen to make it efficient. So when people



spice cabinet located beside the oven area that stands almost 6 feet tall. The narrow shelves allow perfect visibility and also have rails that keep all the jars and bottles secure as it rolls in and out of the wall. Just above that cabinet and over the stove, Duncan built another wide and deep cabinet filled with dividers that’s extraordinarily useful to the well supplied cook—the slots make order out of the frequent chaos created by the irregular shapes and sizes of cutting boards, serving trays, and baking sheets that never match well enough to nest neatly in a pile. These features are the result, Duncan says, of long experience: “I’ve done a lot of kitchens and I kind of know what works, now, you have to be flexible if the client wants changes—it’s their kitchen… It’s important [to design] for whoever cooks—the kitchens I design and build are working kitchens.” Duncan has spent the last 38 years perfecting the approach to his


craft. He came to cabinet making while working as a Volkswagen/ Porsche mechanic when a customer in need of help with some woodworking inadvertently introduced Duncan to his vocation. He says it was just that simple: “I ended up helping him and quit doing the car stuff. I just got into it.” From that point forward, it was a matter of on-the-job training. He’s quick to add that, “One thing that most people don’t realize is there’s just no training for this, you can’t go to school for it—you have to do it. And that’s the worst thing that’s happening, it’s harder to fi nd cabinet makers.” But that’s a search worth spending some time on. That’s especially true if you want a kitchen that really cooks—as this one clearly does. ■ Cabinetmaker Dan Duncan built a custom kitchen island with wide drawers and electrical outlets to create both a table space and a storage and work area.

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Repurposing History White Lily Flats BY TRACY JONES


here was a time in Knoxville when many perfectly good buildings met the wrecking ball once they outlived their original purpose. Even beautifully constructed, iconic pieces of architectural history were left to sit vacant, invite vandalism or decay, and then be declared too far gone to save. Maybe that still happens sometimes. But not with a growing network of heritage preservationists and savvy developers who are repurposing the historic gems in Knoxville’s urban center and making them shine. Once the manufacturing center for the south’s best flour (ask a foodie), the four-story brick White Lily Flour building (at Depot and Central avenues near the Old City) is now home to White Lily Flats, a fully leased residential complex from Dewhirst Properties. The developer has preserved much of the space’s manufacturing history (gears Photos by George Middlebrooks


MAY 2016



and levers, maple beams and corrugated metal, hand-labeled machine instructions) while creating individual studio and one- or two-bedroom units with guaranteed urban sophisticate appeal. White Lily Flats opened for leasing in January 2015 and was fully occupied a couple of months later, ushering in a new chapter for what was once one of Knoxville’s most important industrial centers. It was built in 1885 by J. Allen Smith & Company, who struck baker’s gold with the development of White Lily Flour. The manufacturing concern changed hands many times in the 120-plus years after, but the mill ran 24 hours a day in Knoxville, until the J. Smucker Company moved operations to the Midwest in 2008. Dewhirst bought the property in 2011, having completed a successful similar transformation of the JFG Coffee plant in the Old City and having become one of Knoxville’s premier evangelists for repurposing our once-vital industrial center. Dewhirst Properties’ Drew Holloway says the success of JFG Flats was a confirmation that this kind of project could work, and while there were a lot of unknowns in turning the aging flour plant into sleek residences, “To see the interior was to see the potential.” In deciding what to incorporate into the building and its individual units, Holloway says “whatever offered color and texture” was an easy choice to leave in, as were the original “funky details.” Anything that lent authenticity was kept, while whatever made the place inhospitable was removed. In a third-story one-bedroom apartment, the living and sleeping areas are separated by a site-original sliding The four-story brick White Lily Flour building (at Depot and Central avenues near the Old City) was built in 1885 by J. Allen Smith & Company. Refurbished industrial gear has been commissioned into a striking light fixture that’s the first thing you see on entry. A retro-futuristic control panel was once essential to the making of a multi-million-dollar product; today it’s a favorite talking point. A BODE

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red corrugated metal door; Holloway says the apartments that featured those original industrial doors were the first to be leased. Behind the mid-mod-influenced seating area hangs a yellow ladder to nowhere, while in the bedroom another yellow ladder leads up to a small storage loft, both original to the building. Exposed pipes run along the top of the loft and into the spacious bathroom. In the living area, a massive maple beam rises up from the hardwood floors. It provides a natural focal point between the kitchen and seating areas and lends an unexpected warmth to the exposed brick and metal around it. The building’s common areas are also a celebration of its heritage. Refurbished industrial gear has been commissioned into a striking light fixture that’s the first thing you see on entry. A retro-futuristic control panel—a puzzle of switches and levers—was once essential to the making of a multi-million-dollar product; today it’s a favorite talking point. There is a blown-up lobby photograph of the building as it looked originally, when J. Allen Smith built it, and the corridors feature a print of a vintage advertisement celebrating the “flowers of the south”—dogwood, azalea, “White Lily Flour.” As much as there is to see inside the building—and you could never get tired of looking for the unexpected whirligigs, pumps, pipes, and fuses—the view from it is like nothing else in the city. It sits across from the train yards behind Southern Railway Station, and the view from the above particular The flour company and its building changed hands many times in its 120-plus years, until the J. Smucker Company moved operations to the Midwest in 2008. Dewhirst Properties has preserved much of the space’s manufacturing history while creating individual studio and one- or two-bedroom units. Reminders of the building’s industrial past are everywhere, with distinctive fittings in apartments and common areas. A BODE

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In deciding what to incorporate into the building and its individual units, Dewhirst Properties’ Drew Holloway says “whatever offered color and texture” was an easy choice to leave in, as were the original “funky details.” Anything that lent authenticity was kept, while whatever made the place inhospitable was removed.


MAY 2016

third-floor apartment is an invitation to trainspotting. In addition to secure entry, the building’s residents also enjoy a rare city boon: a residents-only parking lot. Across from the building’s spacious residents’ parking lot on Depot sits the new music venture the Mill and Mine, Dewhirst/Ashley Capps project, unveiled during the nationally celebrated Big Ears Festival in late March of this year. Knoxville has had a lively downtown scene for a couple of decades, and a lively Old City scene for about a decade before that, but until very recently those were considered two discrete areas. White Lily Flats is one of the obvious points of integration. With views toward downtown but steps from the Old City, and with a history that is solely, purely local, this building is at the crossroads of a Knoxville that is a thriving, resident-friendly urban center. One with a history worth saving. n




Organically Modern

A Holston River Home



War-era farmhouse and another custom modern home. Once you reach the top of the hill where the home sits, you might as well be miles away from everyone. It was important to both Sohn and Anderson to preserve as much of the hushed wildness of the landscape as possible. She grew up spending summers at her grandparents’ home outside of Oregon, the Narrows, which was also nestled in the trees, and the woods are also something


Photo by Bruce Cole. Rendering courtesy of Sanders Pace Architecture.

overed in moss and nestled under a thick canopy of trees, the boulders dotting the landscape look almost like living things, sleeping giants. Above them perches a one-of-a-kind home, modern and warm, airy and grounded, so in tune with the landscape you can’t imagine it ever wasn’t there. “We wanted a clean, warm space,” says Laura Sohn, the restaurateur and event planner who owns the home with her husband, Carlos Anderson, a nurse. “Something not just modern but organically modern.” Looking for privacy and peace, the two purchased a 20-acre parcel of rocky cedar forest along the Holston River in eastern Knox County, about 20 miles from town. The tract is part of what was once a large farm, with the river-bottom land divided into 5-acre parcels. Neighboring residences—which are not visible from the home—include an abandoned Civil

MAY 2016


that speak profoundly to her husband. The two wanted a one-level environment with seamless transitions between outdoor and indoor living spaces and as much natural light as possible. All on a budget. For this challenge, they turned to lead architect Brandon Pace and architect Michael Davis, both of Sanders Pace Architecture in Knoxville. Sanders Pace is known for the sleek new Wild Love Bakehouse on North Central, the renovated Southeastern Glass Building at Jackson and Gay, and other notable Knoxville projects. The couple were acquainted with the architects and knew they would “put their own stamp on things.” “We trusted them,” Sohn says. “If you’re going to work with someone creative and interesting, why doubt them?” Pace and Davis set out to explore the site with the owners,


looking for a way to maximize the views and take advantage of natural light exposure. “Early in the design process we presented options for the house that were primarily linear,” Davis says, “which paralleled the contours of site but seemed to lack an engagement with the hillside and potential for views into the forest.” The architects’ solution? “We presented an option which projected Photos by Tricia Bateman


MAY 2016



the living room and kitchen into the forest, which created a ‘Y’ shaped floor plan. This created a house with three wings, with each wing having three different exposures and three different relationships to the landscape,” Davis says. The resulting home is more than 2,500 feet of air-conditioned space, with more than 3,500 square feet under roof. The exterior is clad in native cedar and topped with a seamed metal roof. The outdoor living areas, off the different branches of the house, include an outdoor shower and several conversation areas. “My favorite part of the house is the relationship of indoor and outdoor space at the dining area and rear porch,” Pace says. Davis adds, “No room feels the same. Sometimes you are very close to the ground, like on the back porch, and other times you feel like you are in a tree house, like in the living room.” Rocks that were dug up in creating the foundation were moved to other parts of the landscape, and in one case used as a stepping structure to one of the decks. The architects were hands-on during the overseeing of the construction, as were Sohn and Anderson. Everywhere in the home there are windows. Sohn says that thanks to the “insane insulation” of the windows and the quality of the design and materials in construction, their electric bill is about 30 percent less than it was in their previous home, a rambling older home in north Knoxville. Thanks to the three exposures, the sun follows the day’s general pattern, rising in the windows that light up the master suite. “I love the mornings,” Sohn says, “But I don’t sleep much past nine anymore.” Every ray of sun during the day is taken advantage of, something that’s especially important in the winter. In the evening, if Sohn’s cooking (and that’s one of her biggest loves) at the extra-tall island that holds the gas range, she has a perfect view across the living space into the trees as the sun fades out behind A BODE

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them. Curving canister lights above the island and recessed track lighting light up the living area, and discreetly covered electrical outlets on the floor of the main space mean that an impromptu stint of workfrom-home doesn’t mean being chained to a desk or a table. The feeling inside the house is one of fun and home, reflecting Sohn and Anderson’s choice not to go “hypersleek, hypermodern.” Pops of blue cabinetry liven up the kitchen and add to the sense that a party could break out any moment. Along the northern wall in the main living area, patterned textiles create bench seating atop of part of the “75 linear feet of bookshelves” that Sohn requested. Across the room is a series of custom-built mobile shelves that were commissioned from Knoxville artist Forrest Kirkpatrick and his Fork Design. Kirkpatrick also built the room’s big conversation piece, a coffee-table crafted from a slab of timber harvested by the timber company her paternal grandfather founded. The house is filled with personal touches: an art collection that Sohn’s father gave the couple, which pops like it never did in the couple’s former home; framed photographs from the couple’s travels along the walls of the main living space; her favorite cookbooks filling up the shelves that line the back of the kitchen island; her grandparents’ dining table in the alcove facing the home’s southern exposure. Like the home Sohn’s grandparents built and lived in for 60 years, where her large extended family still returns each summer, Sohn and Anderson want this to be an anchoring refuge for themselves and for their family and friends. She has thought about additional bungalows or studios on the property, as her grandparents built on theirs, but for now is happy to enjoy the views from everywhere and dip into the river for a swim when the Holston warms. The couple has all the time in the world to make additional plans. The house—and this land— aren’t going anywhere. n


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barber house

George Barber’s Final Home A Parkridge history sleuth tackles a basket-case preservation project BY ELEA NOR SCOTT


Photos by Eleanor Scott

he small two-story house at 1707 East Glenwood Ave. in Parkridge sits a little back from the road, on top of a small hill. The freshly-scraped wood siding is mottled with dark green stain and flecks of old white paint. A temporary electric pole stands in the front yard and sheets of plastic flap against the chimney. Renovation is afoot! Thanks to the sleuthing of preservationist Greta Schmoyer, we can be pretty sure this plain little 1,100-square-foot house is the work and last home of famed architect George F. Barber, best known for his mail-order catalogs of ornate Queen Anne-style home designs. Though his houses are scattered around the world, the largest collection of Barber homes is found in Parkridge, where the self-taught architect lived for most of his career. Barber moved to Knoxville in 1888 and built a large Victorian home for himself on Washington Avenue, still standing today. His much grander second home on the same street has since been destroyed. By digging through archives and old records, Schmoyer found proof Barber had, for unknown reasons, sold that grand home and was living in the simple house on Glenwood Avenue at the time of his death in 1915 at age 61. When Schmoyer bought the house in 2014 for $30,000, it was a trainwreck of neglect and questionable remodeling. The wide wood siding was hidden under “hideous” aluminum siding and the unique notched porch rafters were mostly gone, Schmoyer says. Vandals had broken the windows and the roof leaked. The house sat vacant and condemned for 15 years behind a tall screen of weeds. Schmoyer, who lived just down the street, heard rumors the abandoned house had

ties with the famous local architect. When the owners put up a for-sale sign, she jumped at the chance to steward a piece of history. “This is my neighborhood and I don’t like to see old houses being torn down,” Schmoyer says. “Any time you start scratching the surface on a historic project you find so many more fascinating pieces of the puzzle. When we lose any older house, you lose all of those puzzle A BODE

pieces and people may never be able to put them together again.” Schmoyer holds a couple of graduate degrees, and works for the USDA inspecting laboratories. She is by habit a thorough researcher, and her interest in the house sharpened the more she dug into its history and construction. Schmoyer found deeds proving George and Linda Barber bought the land in 1906, and had a house MAY 2016

built there. During renovation she found the name “Barber” written on the back of a door casing, as if a lumber mill had marked it with the customer’s name. Completed in 1913, this house lacks the whimsical elements of Barber’s iconic buildings—no carved spindlework, no storybook balconies. Some features, like its outsized columns, do keep in character with the Colonial revival elements in Barber’s later work. Did Barber design his last home? George’s son, Charles, also a successful architect, was designing buildings in Knoxville by 1913, but Schmoyer rejects the theory that Charles Barber built her house. “[George] Barber wasn’t an invalid at that point. His son Charles was an up-and-coming player in the Knoxville architectural field, but his father would have been capable of designing his own house,” Schmoyer says. The Barbers only lived in the house for two years before Laura died unexpectedly of a stroke. Nine days later, George died as well. Both were fairly young, and neither had been in ill health. George Barber’s official cause of death: “nervous exhaustion, result of worrying over wife’s sudden death.” “Basically a broken heart,” says Schmoyer, who taped copies of the Barbers’ death certificates to her wall with other historical documents. Schmoyer hired contractors to replace all electric, plumbing, and gas. She hired a mason to repoint the brickwork and rebuild the chimney. She and her mother, Denise Schmoyer, are doing much of the painstaking restoration work themselves. Schmoyer uses Craigslist and eBay for antique fixtures and obscure materials, and Google

to research restoration techniques. The biggest project the mother-daughter team has tackled thus far has been stripping the interior woodwork. Originally, all the woodwork had a clear shellac fi nish showing off the natural grain of the wood. When Schmoyer bought the house, the woodwork was thick with many layers of grubby paint. The Schmoyers heated the paint with a heat gun, which is like a big hairdryer. When heated, the layers of paint loosened, and they scraped off more easily. Schmoyer removed the old shellac underneath with steel wool and alcohol. She then reapplied the historical fi nish, dissolving flakes of shellac in alcohol and rubbing the product into the woodwork with a rag. “Shellac is very nice; it’s very bizarre,” says Schmoyer, “It’s made by the lac beetle. It doesn’t protect the wood from water as well as polyurethane, but I think it makes a more smooth, beautiful fi nish.” Following an Internet tip,


Schmoyer removed all the doorknobs and hinges gummed with paint, and soaked them in a pan on the stove. The heat softened the paint, and she was able to scrub the hardware to a high polish. “It’s important to bring back our old houses to what they were supposed to look like,” Schmoyer says. “It’s not just an aesthetic thing; the houses were made with stronger materials back then. A lot of the craftsmanship that was employed is no longer to be found at any price. With labor and Googling how to do things you can end up with a fi nished house that looks like it should, and saves a lot of resources.” Today, pieces of the house are immaculately fi nished, but a lot of work remains until it’s livable. “If the goal was to finish this house in x number of days so I can get it on the market, it doesn’t become a passion,” Schmoyer says. “Anytime you get really involved in a project you end up falling in love with it.” ■

Photos courtesy of Greta Schmoyer


TOP LEFT: Greta Schmoyer demonstrated the woodwork restoration process for a neighborhood home tour with a partially stripped and refi nished interior door, from smudged white paint at the bottom, to fi nal shellac fi nish at top. TOP RIGHT: The original dark green exterior stain is visible beneath the chipping white paint. Schmoyer ordered a custom-mixed green paint to match the original color. BOTTOM RIGHT : DIY restoration tip: Simmer paint-encrusted hardware in a pot of water on the stove, scrub away softened paint with steel wool for a polished gleam.

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real estate

Upscale Urban Living Options It’s no secret that downtown residential living has boomed in the past decade—but now it’s set to explode as new buildings and new renovations open their doors. Here are the latest.

811 East

The Daniel

Marble Alley

Located across from the Knoxville Police Department, 811 East is a petfriendly community and offers large one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments renting from $895 to $1,035.

Named after the John H. Daniel company, which resided in this Old City building for 86 years, the Daniel offers luxury lofts, ranging from 460 square feet to over 1,600 square feet.

The biggest new construction project in downtown in generations, Marble Alley is a community onto itself with lots of apartment rentals between $974 to $1,879.




River’s Edge Apartment Homes 1701 ISLAND HOME AVE. 865-225-9838 RIVERSEDGEKNOX.COM

This new complex outside of the Island Home neighborhood in South Knoxville sits near the Tennessee River and offers apartments from $970 to $1,195.

But wait, there’s more! Here are new residences currently under construction or development: HISTORIC KNOXVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Century Building


The Mews thecrozierdevelopment This survivor of the “Million Dollar Fire” of 1897 offers a historic setting for condos ranging in price from $299,000 to $479,000.

This large building was indeed once the home to J.C. Penney’s store in Knoxville. Newly refurbished (complete with a bowling alley!), Penney’s now sells living spaces from $369,600 (1,400 square feet) to $705,000 (2,420 square feet).


Located near the corner of Central Street and Magnolia Avenue, one block north of the Old City, this brand new condominium development features one- to two-bedroom residences.




MAY 2016




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Welcome to Our New Abode

Let the Knxoville Mercury and Abode become your guides to the area’s most unique houses—whether they’re floating, tiny, or something else entirely. We’ll introduce you to local craftspeople, renovators, innovators, and architects who make living in Knoxville unique. For information about advertising in future issues of Abode, contact us at: or 865-313-2048.

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Abode: Creative, unique, local homes - May 2016  
Abode: Creative, unique, local homes - May 2016