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'Home is where the heart is' | Knoxville woman breathes new life into childhood home

Vicki Koontz jumped at the opportunity to buy and restore the home she lived at as a child in Fountain City.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville woman got the unique opportunity to breathe new life into her childhood home.

If home is where the heart is, Vicki Koontz left hers on Briscoe Circle in Fountain City. It's the house she grew up in, from about 4 years old to 17 years old.

Her dad was a builder. The occupation runs in the family, now on its fourth generation. Koontz and her three sisters saw how to grow from the ground up.

"This is the house that built me because I learned to be the person I am here in this environment," Koontz said. 

Koontz has vivid memories of playing outside, drawing on the walls of the crawlspace, and running to the presents on Christmas morning.

Her family sold the house when she was a teenager in the 60s. Another family moved in and made memories of their own.

So when the home went on the market, Koontz jumped at the chance to restore the place she loved so much. She is a realtor with her own restoration business.

“'I really love to acquire homes that have been neglected, let go, was once pretty, even beautiful, but they're ugly and forgotten," Koontz said.

She got the house and dreamed of a way to renovate the 50s home.

Credit: WBIR

"It was almost like in a time capsule because they had not done things either," Koontz said. "It still had the old paneling on the walls, the old cabinets, old dark carpet."

She got to work, listening to what the walls had to say. She opened up the floor plan to make it more of an open concept, updated the light fixtures, and offered new life to the historic house.

"You think you remember things, but then when you spend time here, just things just start popping in and it really is something that's been beneficial to just go back in time," Koontz said. You just remember a lot of things about yourself, about your sisters, your parents."

Koontz staged the home to put memories on display. There are pictures of both her parents hanging on the wall, pictures of Koontz standing on the home's foundation at 4 years old, and decorations that pay homage to her family.

Koontz spent about a year redoing the house at Briscoe Circle. She took her time with the renovations.

Credit: WBIR

“I don't want to be called a flipper because that kind of got a bad name with people buying something and just covering up stuff and you know," Koontz said.

She savored every upgrade, knowing the bittersweet ending.

"A good friend of mine is buying it," Koontz said. "So I'll be able to maybe come back for a party or something like that."

As one chapter closes, a new chance for memories will build on the heart already here.

"They know how much extra love has gone into this and it's just not been a typical fixer-upper," Koontz said.

Koontz works on a few houses at a time as part of her restoration business. There have been plenty of homes she has gotten attached to, but she knows it's better to fix up places for others to enjoy.