Villa Collina Renewed: Restoring a Knoxville Icon to its Original Exterior Luster

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.

Since its construction, Villa Collina has become well-recognized across East Tennessee by its lustrous exterior design, from pearly white marble accents and grand archways to installing light-scaping to highlight the home’s nighttime beauty and revamping landscaping. Owner Eric Barton has made vast improvements to the exterior of the home to revive its original luster.

After moving into the Villa Collina in 2016 over the Thanksgiving holiday, Barton immediately started bringing in contractors to complete urgent work. According to Barton, there were sometimes more than 70 contractors on-site in one day working on various projects across the home. The workers replaced large portions of the roof as well as repaired and repainted the exterior walls. A major boost to the Villa Collina’s exterior curb appeal has been repainting the 40,250-square-foot mansion. Looking to the mansion’s rich Italian roots, Barton repainted the exterior Buena Vista Gold with Valet White trim. Barton hired Oleksandr Markevych for the large undertaking of pressure washing and painting the exterior of the home.

Additionally, the marble found throughout the exterior needed repair or replacement, as much of the expansive outdoor marble terraces at the rear of the home had started to deteriorate and fall, creating a safety hazard for those taking in views of the Tennessee River. Barton hired Tennessee Marble Company for exterior marble repairs to the outdoor terraces and kitchen, in addition to the Grand Foyer’s grand stair inside the main space of the home. The grand stair features a graceful curved marble stair leading to the private family quarters and bedroom suites upstairs and wrought iron banisters with a gold leaf dogwood pattern. These initial exterior renovations prevented potentially larger, more extensive problems in the future.

The expansive outdoor terraces create a perfect setup for outdoor dining, according to Barton, who hand-selected new patio furniture to complement the Italianesque beauty of the home. The outside patio furniture can now accommodate several hundred guests – perfect for special occasions, fundraisers and other private events taking place outside of the home. Fundraising remains a key purpose of Villa Collina under Barton’s ownership.

“My commitment to community service and passion for Villa Collina pair perfectly to host fundraisers for worthy causes near and far,” Barton said. “With stunning mountain and river views, along with unique architectural elements, the house and grounds provide an unparalleled experience for those who enter its gate.”

Landscaping also has been a large undertaking in Barton’s renovation efforts. Much of the Villa’s shrubbery died or needed to be replaced to create the feeling that one is in the hills of Italy. In addition, new irrigation systems have been installed to maintain the luscious landscaping and rolling hills leading to the Tennessee River. Light-scaping also has been installed across landscaping in the front and rear of the home, complementing the home’s natural exterior aesthetics and landscaping at nighttime.

Barton has invested efforts in upgrading and restoring various outdoor fountains – all stocked with exotic koi fish – across the marble terraces, in addition to installing new Italianesque sculptures, such as Bucharest’s premier boutique Carol Parc Hotel’s Carpe Diem statue, across the mansion’s grounds.

Barton is not finished with exterior renovations to the Villa Collina. He plans to construct a new dock along the Tennessee River.

Up next: Staying true to its Italian heritage, the Villa Collina is characterized by its beautiful marble features both on its iconic exterior and interior design. Soon after purchasing the home, Eric Barton recognized a need to revamp much of the home’s marble work. Come back for next week’s installment of Villa Collina Renewed.