To say I’m excited about Common House Chattanooga might be the understatement of the decade. OK, we’re still in year 1 of the roaring 2020’s, but my god, doesn’t it feel like we’ve lived a decade this year?! 

      If you’ve lived in Chattanooga for any length of time and explored around the city’s Southside as it’s developed over the years, you are aware of the run-down, crumbling YMCA building just off Main Street. It seems like everybody and their brother has dreamt about buying this property and turning into the next cool thing!

      Enter Common House. Common House self-promotes that it “is a community of engaged individuals who enjoy living life to its fullest. [We offer] . . . modern, comfortable escapes for social and business pursuits . . . where people can share ideas and make connections in physical and digital spaces.” The founders opened their first “House” in Charlottesville, Virginia, and are expanding to create a similar gathering experience in Richmond (VA) and our very own hometown.

      Right, ok. But what does that look like? Common House Chattanooga is a membership-based venue offering everything from co-working space to childcare to a gym to a podcast studio to a fine dining restaurant and on and on. LITERALLY. On and on! Check out that list of member perks and amenities on their website. This venue is going to be unlike anything else in Chattanooga, and I CAN’T WAIT!

      Based on the above, I was pumped to have a tour and get some of my questions answered by Rebecca Ellington, Common House Chattanooga’s Director of Events. Y’all know that even though I’m personally excited about my membership (yes, I’ve already purchased one!) and those perks, I’m waaaaaay more excited to be able to photograph YOU here. So, let’s get into it!

      whitewashed exterior of Common House Chattanooga with ivy growing through wrought iron window bars carved stone entrance with old wooden doors and boarded-up windows at Common House Chattanooga scrolled wrought iron window cage details overgrown with ivy against whitewashed stucco wall antique wooden doors with peeling paint and metal detailing wooden bench and hard hat on hexagon tile floors in Common House Chattanooga's Pennybacker Room in front of plaster fireplace Rebecca Ellington, Director of Events at Common House Chattanooga, wearing a hard hat


      JS: How old this building?
      RE: The building was built in 1929 and served as a YMCA until 1984. Since then, it has sat vacant.

      JS: When will you start booking events?
      RE: We are booking events now! We will be opening in early 2021, and our first wedding is already booked for February, 2021.

      JS: Is it true that members get a discount on event rentals?
      RE: Yes! Members get 50% off rental fees for their wedding.

      JS: How long is the rental period?
      RE: Your wedding vendors can access Common House Chattanooga at 10:00 am, and your end time is flexible.

      JS: Does the rental include any tables or chairs?
      RE: Yes! All our rental prices include chairs, tables, napkin linens, silverware, plates, and glassware. Rental prices also include AV equipment, our staff services, and bartending service.

      JS: Do you have a preferred vendors list? Do you require clients to use specific vendors?
      RE: We do have a preferred vendor list, but couples are welcome to use whatever vendors they want for their big day. Catering and alcohol services are done in-house by Common House Chattanooga.

      JS: What is the parking situation?
      RE: We are working closely with Chattanooga Parking Authority, valet, and shuttle services to give our couples the best downtown parking experience.

      JS: Can we take engagement photos at Common House Chattanooga?
      RE: Absolutely! Common House couples will be allowed to take engagement photos on site for free with their rental of the space. The photography options are limitless in this house, and I am so excited to see what photographers, like yourself, create in this space.

      For further details, or to book Common House Chattanooga for your wedding, contact Rebecca Ellington via email at Let her know I sent you!

      OK, so are you ready for a tour?!! Let me show you some photos of the current Common House Chattanooga, this glorious #WIP as well as the professional renderings of each area’s final look. Prepare to have your socks knocked off.


      construction material and sunlight along antique hexagon tile floor of Common House Chattanooga's Pennybacker Room detailed carved white fireplace in Common House Chattanooga's Pennybacker Room detailed carved white fireplace in Common House Chattanooga's Pennybacker Room folding table holding hard hats in Common House Chattanooga Pennybacker Room. antique red tiles line the walls near fireplace professional rendering of future layout and design of Common House Chattanooga's Pennybacker Room

      Welcome to the Pennybacker Room. This room is located on the first floor of Common House. Capacity is 50 guests seated or 100 guests standing. This space is perfect for your rehearsal dinner, an intimate ceremony or smaller reception, or cocktail hour.

      The textures in this room are a dream. I love the red tile on the walls and hexagon tiles on the floors. The heavy wooden beams on the ceiling will remain exposed, creating a cozy, balanced feeling here. The large fireplace (omg those details!) also makes this room so comfortable. I love the tall windows, and you can see that primo light filtering across everything. Y’all. Give me more!

      Oh! So to complement the incredible architecture and exterior details of this 100-year-old building with its Spanish tile roof, stucco exterior, and wrought iron details, Common House has partnered with Chattanooga interior designer Kate Boehm of Studio BOCA. I’m a huge fan of Kate’s work. Attention to detail and texture are really strong aspects of her design work, and the gorgeous, historical building is going to soak up her style.

      We’re getting a taste of that marriage between architecture and interior design in the rendering of the Pennybacker Room. Really, it’s a perfect mash-up, and I can’t wait to see the final product!

      Y’all still with me? We’re heading to the main wedding site next. Try to keep up!



      high peaked ceiling and open rafters of Common House Chattanooga's Ruby Hall with stage, brick walls, and catwalk balconies open rafters and yellow-painted stage of Common House Chattanooga's Ruby Hall with brick walls and catwalk balconies high peaked ceiling, open rafters, and arched upper windows along catwalk balcony of Common House Chattanooga's Ruby Hall high peaked ceiling, open rafters and small, arched doorway covered in a yellow brick of Common House Chattanooga's Ruby Hall small, arched doorway covered in a yellow brick of Ruby Hall high peaked ceiling, open rafters and arched upper window of Common House Chattanooga's Ruby Hall View of Chattanooga mountains from window of Ruby Hall professional rendering of Common House Chattanooga's Ruby Hall lined with dining tables and chairs under chandelier and stage

      Ruby Hall used to be a gymnasium but will now play backdrop to your beautiful wedding. The capacity of Ruby Hall is 180 guests seated and 400 guests standing. This space includes a mezzanine overlooking the whole room under open-rafter ceilings.

      Uh, I’m trying to remember my high school gym (only loosely trying), but I know for sure it did NOT have the incredible yellow tiled walls or multiple stories of windows or that steep, open ceiling. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.

      Common House Chattanooga is making some solid moves with this space, guys! They plan to keep the ceiling open, but they painted the industrial beams a rich brown. Coupled with the yellow tile, this room practically oozes a gorgeous golden glow. Ruby Hall has so much beauty on its own that you won’t have to do much in the way of decor here. Swoon city!

      Seriously, there’s still more to see. 🙂



      professional rendering of Common House Chattanooga's private walled garden set with chairs for wedding ceremony and reception

      While right now The Garden is only available to us in this professionally rendered image, I’m starting to imagine it in all its glory. Capacity is 180 guests seated or 200 standing. In this rendering, you can see the ceremony site set up on the left and long tables on the right.

      The Garden is located on the side of the building. This will be a perfect spot for an outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour before heading in for your reception. Once complete, The Garden will feature bistro lighting, fragrant florals, and stunning greenery.

      Let’s take a quick detour to another of Common House Chattanooga’s outdoor spaces–the rooftop patio.



      rough plastered walls in stairwell leading to rooftop patio rough plastered walls in stairwell leading to rooftop patio and window view of Spanish tile roof whitewashed archways and Spanish tile roof of Common House Chattanooga's rooftop patio whitewashed archways and Spanish tile roof of Common House Chattanooga's rooftop patio professional rendering of Common House Chattanooga's rooftop patio with whitewashed walls, Spanish tile roofs, bistro tables

      I called this a “detour” because technically the rooftop patio will not be available to rent for your event. Common House Chattanooga is committed to giving its members a fun place to hang out. Regardless of other goings-on at the property, the rooftop patio will provide that outdoor space to members.

      While you can’t rent the space, I do think this would be a perfect spot for a bridal lunch or similar small gathering! Also, it’s going to be just as swoon-worthy as the rest of the House, so I couldn’t leave it off our tour. 🙂

      One last stop on our tour for all my highly-detailed planners!



      old, arched wooden door overlooking rooftop patio space and Spanish tile roof woman wearing a hard hat while walking through construction zone professional rendering of Common House Chattanooga's hotel suite/getting ready room with bed and living room furniture professional rendering of Common House Chattanooga's hotel suite/getting ready room with living room furniture

      In addition to everything else happening here at Common House Chattanooga, the facility also has a bridal suite on the top floor and 6 hotel rooms. Couples are encouraged to rent a hotel room or two for getting ready.

      The wedding party and guests are welcome to enjoy the club on the day of the wedding! So while the couple may be getting fancy upstairs, their guests can enjoy a day at the pool, billiards room, bar, or other club facilities.

      The renderings of the hotel room I’m sharing here are of the bridal/honeymoon suite. You can see there will be tons of natural light, which we all know is perfect for those getting ready photos!



      Well, this concludes our tour of Common House Chattanooga. BUT, stay tuned because in the coming months, I will be announcing an irresistible giveaway with Common House!

      I think it goes without saying that I’m ridiculously excited to start booking weddings at this new venue. Over the years, I’ve photographed all over the grounds and even the interior of the building in its various stages of disrepair, and I’m really happy to see it coming back to life. To photograph it in its new glory . . . well, I’m pretty dang ecstatic.

      view of Lookout Mountain over the Spanish tile roof of Common House Chattanooga dark interior looking through window to ivy covered wrought iron bars red wheelbarrow holding broken brick and plaster sits under black framed window cracked plaster walls and peeling paint behind an iron railing whitewashed exterior of Common House Chattanooga with wrought iron window bars, red gutter downspouts and Spanish tile roof whitewashed exterior of Common House Chattanooga with wrought iron window bars, red gutter downspouts and Spanish tile roof Jaime Smialek, wedding photographer of Our Ampersand Photography, poses in hardhat in front of yellow tiled wall

      This building is a photographer’s dream, a textural heaven, and it’s sure to impress and charm all of your guests. I think Common House Chattanooga is going to be a smash hit for couples, and from my perspective, there’s not a single bad angle here!

      If you love this building as much as I do, and if you love what Common House Chattanooga is bringing to our city, I’d love to talk! Contact me so we can start planning together!