This Tennessee Cottage Was Meant For Laid-Back Mountain Living

Monteagle, Tennessee Cottage
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

When Atlanta-based couple Terry and and Robert Banta spotted a charming Carpenter-Gothic-style cottage for sale in Monteagle, Tennessee, they acted fast. No matter how much time passed, the mountains kept tugging them back.This delightful cottage gives Southern Gothic a new meaning, updating the classic Carpenter-Gothic-style space for contemporary living without altering any of its wonderful charm. Built around 1890, this beautiful Tennessee mountain cottage is a study in simplicity, mixing natural materials including stone and timber to create a warm, inviting, and welcoming space. The open kitchen includes limestone countertops and a butcher-block island, echoing the natural materials used throughout. In the loft, a vaulted ceiling clad in board-and-batten timber echoes the beaded board ceilings downstairs. Clearly rooted in history and tradition, but delicately and sympathetically restored for comfortable living today, this Tennessee mountain cottage is elegant, enticing, and clearly fit for the Southern life.

To update the house while keeping its old-house soul, they turned to Rachel Halvorson, a Nashville designer with a knack for creative renovations (who happens to be a friend of their daughter Caroline). On Halvorson’s first visit, she saw a brighter future for the home. “I just quit talking because I didn’t need to. She just got it,” says Terry. “She was so clear about what the vision should be.” Over the next four years, they worked meticulously to do the structure justice, stripping it down to the studs while retaining the home’s wood foors and massive windows. “The way that light comes through the old glass is just magical,” Halvorson says. “It’s sparkly and just has a different feel to it.” Stanley Dixon, an architect friend who had married his wife on a Sewanee mountaintop, sketched out a sprawling front porch that looks as if it has been there since the beginning.

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The Exterior

Monteagle, Tennessee Cottage
Laurey W. Glenn

The "window" that underscores this house's Gothic charm is actually a repurposed mirror found at an antiques shop in Nashville. A chipped Victorian front door sets the tone for the decor inside.

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The Porch

Front Porch with Green Rocking Chairs
Laurey W. Glenn

Old green wicker porch furniture "just kind of goes," says the home's designer Rachel Halvorson. The house and the church next door were both built around 1890.

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The Foyer

Monteagle Home Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

A neutral color palette unifies the newly exposed spaces, while rich textures—wood-paneled walls, beaded-board ceilings—layer on character and warmth.

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The Living Room

Monteagle Home Living Room
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

"There's not one thing that feels contrived about this house. It's relaxed and natural," said Terry.

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The Kitchen

Montagle Home Kitchen
Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

The all-white, open kitchen is outfitted with limestone countertops, brass fittings, and antique radios that belonged to the homeowners' grandmothers.

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The Dining Room

Monteagle Home Dining Room
Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

To maintain the authenticity and create a cohesive look when renovating an old house, Halvorson advises to choose period-appropriate materials and finishes that don't look out of place.

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The Loft

Monteagle Home Loft
Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

"You need a big landing to balance out little bedrooms," says Halvorson. Here, they vaulted the ceiling and clad it with board-and-batten.

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The Primary Bedroom

Montagle Home Bedroom
Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

Assorted calico and checked patterns are a nod to the past yet feel completely contemporary. Just follow Halvorson's lead by tempering them with classic cottage white, and you can't go wrong.

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The Guest Bedroom

Monteagle Home Guest Bedroom
Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

The Bantas dusted off pieces they hadn't used in years—including their kids' toddler beds—and put them on permanent display. "Almost everything has a story," says Terry. "There were few things we had to purchase."

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The Bathroom

Montagle Home Bathroom
Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

"Friends use our home, so I wanted everything to be simple to find and grab," says Terry. The tiny bath was outtfitted with open corner shelves to put whatever a guest may need within arms reach.

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