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Inside an Artist’s Well-Collected Tennessee Home

Inside an Artist’s Well-Collected Tennessee Home
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An artist who works largely in sumi ink and watercolor on handmade paper, Chattanooga, TN-based Kate Roebuck would be described by most as a painter. But it’s her training in textile design and her love of textiles that dropped her into her world of cobalt and ocher inks. After somewhat serendipitously finding herself in a textile-design program at the University of Georgia, Kate worked with “surface design” company Hable Construction for five years, where she “really fell in love with pattern and the way pattern and shapes in color interact with one another,” Kate tells us.

When Kate and her husband, Cody, relocated from Athens, GA (where Hable is based) to Tennessee, “at that time it really felt like what I wanted to do every day was just be an artist and go to my studio and have that creative time to paint and draw and think,” she reveals. “I had always painted and loved it; I just didn’t know that I could turn it into a career—something that I could do every day.”

As life would have it, she did (In fact, she’s a top-selling artist here on One Kings Lane). Most days, Kate—now a mom to eight-month-old Ezra—heads from her home in St. Elmo, a historic district of Chattanooga, to her studio on the south side of the city. There, she balances painting, playing with her son, and tackling the to-dos of running a business, until it’s time to return to her tiny cottage, built in 1915. To no surprise, it’s full of pattern and color.

Kate invited us in for a visit to her charming home and inspiring studio—scroll on for a tour.

Kate invited us in for a visit to her charming home and inspiring studio—scroll on for a tour.

The cookie prints in Kate’s living room were created by her former boss, Susan Hable of Hable Construction. Studying with Susan “really rooted in me this love for pattern and color and shape,” Kate says. “She is one of the most ingenious color experts. Working with her opened my eyes to color and really how to use it to your advantage.”

The cookie prints in Kate’s living room were created by her former boss, Susan Hable of Hable Construction. Studying with Susan “really rooted in me this love for pattern and color and shape,” Kate says. “She is one of the most ingenious color experts. Working with her opened my eyes to color and really how to use it to your advantage.”

Flexibility is crucial to the young family. “Since the photo shoot, we have already rearranged—the coffee table moved to our porch, and we now have a play space with ottomans and our son’s tepee in our living room,” Kate says. “Since he’s starting to crawl, the ‘nothing is permanent’ idea is important.” The continuity of style throughout the home allows her to rearrange freely.

Flexibility is crucial to the young family. “Since the photo shoot, we have already rearranged—the coffee table moved to our porch, and we now have a play space with ottomans and our son’s tepee in our living room,” Kate says. “Since he’s starting to crawl, the ‘nothing is permanent’ idea is important.” The continuity of style throughout the home allows her to rearrange freely.

With eight-month-old Ezra growing rapidly, functionality is important to Kate and husband Cody. She wanted to create a space where she could “get down on the floor and play,” as well as the ability to keep the house quiet. “There are cracks and gaps in every door” of her 100-year-old house, so the latter endeavor isn’t so easy, but Kate nonetheless loves living in a home with history: “I love thinking about how many people have lived here before us and what they did and where their lives have taken them.”

With eight-month-old Ezra growing rapidly, functionality is important to Kate and husband Cody. She wanted to create a space where she could “get down on the floor and play,” as well as the ability to keep the house quiet. “There are cracks and gaps in every door” of her 100-year-old house, so the latter endeavor isn’t so easy, but Kate nonetheless loves living in a home with history: “I love thinking about how many people have lived here before us and what they did and where their lives have taken them.”

An antique burl-wood sideboard in the entry hallway is beautifully balanced by a Louis Philippe mirror, woven baskets, and original art.

An antique burl-wood sideboard in the entry hallway is beautifully balanced by a Louis Philippe mirror, woven baskets, and original art.

A pair of silk tassels add a bit of polish to an industrial cabinet.

A pair of silk tassels add a bit of polish to an industrial cabinet.

Kate’s shelves are beautifully styled with vintage books, small paintings, antique candleholders, and small works of art.

Kate’s shelves are beautifully styled with vintage books, small paintings, antique candleholders, and small works of art.

The blue painting in Kate’s dining room is by artist friend Addie Chapin. Her art collection consists largely of “pieces my husband and I found together on a trip, pieces friends have made, or gifts to one another,” she says. “We love to give art to each other to mark special moments in life.”

The blue painting in Kate’s dining room is by artist friend Addie Chapin. Her art collection consists largely of “pieces my husband and I found together on a trip, pieces friends have made, or gifts to one another,” she says. “We love to give art to each other to mark special moments in life.”

The light fixture in the dining room was an old birdcage I found at an antique store that was turned into a light fixture for my birthday; it’s pretty special to me.  

— Kate Roebuck
“We live in a small home that was built in 1915—before people had lots and lots of stuff—so a lot of the styling choices we make are based on maximizing our space,” Kate notes. While her dining room built-in stores beautiful serving pieces and barware, “our linen closet is really a cabinet in our kitchen.”

“We live in a small home that was built in 1915—before people had lots and lots of stuff—so a lot of the styling choices we make are based on maximizing our space,” Kate notes. While her dining room built-in stores beautiful serving pieces and barware, “our linen closet is really a cabinet in our kitchen.”

Kate tackled a few superficial renovations throughout her home, such as new paint on every surface and new light fixtures, but her kitchen received a much bigger facelift. “It was pretty Ikea before we got here and crumbling by the time we got to it,” she says. “We put all new cabinets and countertops in, and new appliances and new lighting.”

Kate tackled a few superficial renovations throughout her home, such as new paint on every surface and new light fixtures, but her kitchen received a much bigger facelift. “It was pretty Ikea before we got here and crumbling by the time we got to it,” she says. “We put all new cabinets and countertops in, and new appliances and new lighting.”

A few small paintings and ceramics add charm to Kate’s kitchen.

A few small paintings and ceramics add charm to Kate’s kitchen.

We’ve surrounded ourselves with mementos that we love and remind us of moments, friends, trips, etc., but nothing is precious at the same time.

— Kate Roebuck
All the sheets in Kate’s home are by John Robshaw or Roberta Roller Rabbit. “Both are hand-block-printed, both get better and better with age,” she says.

All the sheets in Kate’s home are by John Robshaw or Roberta Roller Rabbit. “Both are hand-block-printed, both get better and better with age,” she says.

Kate has always been drawn to the peaceful quality of blues, but it took time to find the right shades. “I’ve had a few rentals over the last 10 or so years, so I’ve had several chances to get it right,” she says.

Kate has always been drawn to the peaceful quality of blues, but it took time to find the right shades. “I’ve had a few rentals over the last 10 or so years, so I’ve had several chances to get it right,” she says.

One of Kate’s own watercolors is displayed in an antique gilded frame on her bedroom dresser, accented with one of her woven textile designs.

One of Kate’s own watercolors is displayed in an antique gilded frame on her bedroom dresser, accented with one of her woven textile designs.

“I wanted [Ezra’s] room to be both comfortable and peaceful but also eclectic and exciting, which are two kind of opposite things, but I think it works out,” Kate says.

“I wanted [Ezra’s] room to be both comfortable and peaceful but also eclectic and exciting, which are two kind of opposite things, but I think it works out,” Kate says.

I have things in there that I think are really stimulating for a kid—a lot of textures and visual stimulation—but also it can be quiet at the same time. The vision for his room was really just eclectic.

— Kate Roebuck

In the Studio with Kate Roebuck…

On a typical workday, Kate arrives at her studio in south Chattanooga at around 8 a.m. with her son, Ezra, and they’re there until at least 2 p.m. “I’m either playing with him, or I’m painting, or he’s napping. We just kind of hang out when we hang out and we work when we work,” she says. “Life is constantly changing. You get into a rhythm, and then you realize the rhythm has changed from last week to this week.”

On a typical workday, Kate arrives at her studio in south Chattanooga at around 8 a.m. with her son, Ezra, and they’re there until at least 2 p.m. “I’m either playing with him, or I’m painting, or he’s napping. We just kind of hang out when we hang out and we work when we work,” she says. “Life is constantly changing. You get into a rhythm, and then you realize the rhythm has changed from last week to this week.”

Life is constantly changing. You get into a rhythm, and then you realize the rhythm has changed from last week to this week.

— Kate Roebuck
Kate often stretches her paper like a canvas. “I love the textile quality of paper versus canvas,” she says. “The way the paint moves on paper is so different than sinking into something.”

Kate often stretches her paper like a canvas. “I love the textile quality of paper versus canvas,” she says. “The way the paint moves on paper is so different than sinking into something.”

An antique settee provides a cozy place to hang when Kate takes breaks from painting.

An antique settee provides a cozy place to hang when Kate takes breaks from painting.

The artist has pinned inspirational mementos such as paint-dipped feathers and honeycombs to the walls of her studio.

The artist has pinned inspirational mementos such as paint-dipped feathers and honeycombs to the walls of her studio.

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