Editor’s Note: “Villa Collina Renewed” is a 15-part blog series detailing owner Dr. Eric W. Barton’s work to restore the largest home in Tennessee to its original Italianate beauty. Each week we will discuss renovation projects across the 40,250-square-foot waterfront mansion, from geothermal upgrades and energy efficiency to state-of-the-art lighting, marble renovations and fountain upgrades. We hope you enjoy this detailed research on the jewel that is Villa Collina.
Villa Collina boasts three apartments that were originally designed for full-time estate staff. Today, these well-appointed suites provide a convenient and comfortable place for long-term guests – and one favorite pastime.
The fourth and final phase of construction for Villa Collina included the butler’s quarters on the west end of the property, which included two apartments called the butler’s suite and the cottage suite. These were in addition to a third apartment that already had been constructed on the east end of the property and dubbed the grotto suite since it was near a small grotto that was on the property before construction began.
The original homeowners had a full-time butler, and they wanted a convenient, yet separate place for him to reside. Although subsequent homeowners didn’t have staff who lived on the property, the name for the butler’s suite has endured to this day.
When Dr. Eric W. Barton purchased the home, the butler’s suite needed a full renovation because no one had lived there in quite some time. Most of the appliances, water fixtures, cabinets, televisions and the audio and video system needed to be updated and replaced.
All of the furnishings, drywall, ceiling, carpet and flooring, as well as the entire bathroom were removed. Eco-friendly bamboo flooring, granite countertops, subway tile backsplashes and fresh paint transformed the space into a serene, riverside oasis.
An updated kitchen and new island increased counter and seating space. Barton added a custom wine rack and wine cooler, perfect for guests who do not want to venture out to the extensive cellar in the main house. Thoughtfully selected furnishings, accent pieces and colors reflect the peaceful vibe and make it a comfortable, inviting home away from home.
The butler’s suite is perfect for long-term guests and extended visits from Barton’s adult children and their spouses. New water and electrical connections allowed for a washer and dryer for the first time. The private entry, full kitchen, bath and laundry facilities provide guests with everything they need without having to access the main house. The suite is attached and accessible to the home, but still separate. It even has its own security system.
The apartment above the butler’s suite, dubbed the cottage suite, has new life as a poker room. Barton replaced the flooring, added new 4K televisions, repainted the suite and installed new furniture (including his favorite eight-seat poker table). He now has a great area for friends to gather for game night. With a private entry, bathroom and balcony with a fire pit and plenty of seating, it’s the perfect place for a few hands of Texas Hold’em.
The east end grotto suite apartment is well-appointed and has a new television, AV system, plush furnishings and updated gas range cooktop. It has a more modern loft aesthetic with gray walls and an open living room and full kitchen. With its own patio overlooking the river, covered outdoor seating area and a seemingly hidden staircase to the back garden, this apartment is a favorite for guests.
The grotto suite, butler suite and newly dubbed poker suite are lovely and functional areas that will provide both guests and the homeowner with utility, comfort and fun for years to come.
Up next: We’ll wrap up the Villa Collina Renewed series by recapping all of the exciting work that has gone in to refurbishing and updating the home to this point. As spring nears, more work will begin as outside areas are updated and landscaped. We’ll be sure to bring you all of the details in upcoming posts. Follow us on Facebook to get the dish about the updates of this beautiful and majestic home.