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Around the Area Design Inspiration: Knoxville, TN

By: Karin Beuerlein

Travel down iconic Gay Street and into nearby Market Square for design ideas you can use in your own urban dwelling, from exposed brick to beautiful chandeliers.

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A Moment in Time

The recently revamped Oliver Hotel is a downtown Knoxville hideaway with a long history—it’s been a bakery, an ice cream parlor, and a dance hall —and a hip bar, the Oliver Royale. The bar uses contemporary finishes with an old-fashioned flavor, like this Victorian-throwback basketweave ceramic tile paired with rich wood paneling.

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Rustic Touch

The bar at Babalu Tapas and Tacos is chic and rustic—and gets an A+ for smart storage. The look starts with a DIY element: simple unpainted crate shelving backed with chicken wire that shows off whatever cool contents you’d like to display. Stainless steel racks for glassware hang underneath. Go all the way to the ceiling with your poster collection—those shown here are for local bands and events—and you’ve officially got yourself a vibe.

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Festival of Lights

Chandeliers aren’t just for grandma’s dining room anymore—and if you have enough space to show off a group of mismatched chandeliers, go nuts and experiment. Local eatery Five Bar has an immense chandelier collection inside its cavernous space. At home, aim for a more rustic or industrial backdrop if your lighting fixtures are ornate and you want a hip look—otherwise you may actually end up with grandma’s dining room or a saloon.

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Slender Silhouette

If your city garden is tiny but you’re hankering for some cool shade, a columnar tree—also known as a "fastigiate" tree—may be just the focal point you’re looking for. These 'Slender Silhouette' sweetgums in front of Knoxville’s Andrew Johnson Building fit the bill. They grow quite tall, but usually not more than about five feet wide, making them a great choice for urban garden design. Fun fact: this building was once a hotel, and is famous for being the last place country star Hank Williams stayed before he died.

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