NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES, October 31, 2023 /EINPresswire.com/ — Jennava Laska, a Nashville native, entrepreneur and licensed general contractor, revived a dilapidated underground house and transformed it to a stunning subterranean villa unlike anything else in middle Tennessee.
This incredibly unique hilltop compound features three separate living spaces on 4 acres in Goodlettsville. The star of the estate is the “underground” house, built in 1983, that was cut into the top of the hill and features a hub and spoke radial floor plan. “When I walked inside I knew instantly that the original architect / builder had put their entire soul into creating this space. The amazing wood beams are reminiscent of a Tuscan villa and the layout, while unusual in America, it is very similar to classical Greco-Roman architectural principles. I wanted to honor that and bring this home back to something special. It is a one-of-a-kind property and it desperately needed to be rescued from the brink of disrepair. It had been long abandoned with leaking skylights, the driveway was almost impassable from erosion, it had a wacky jacuzzi in the foyer and so much deferred maintenance. It looked haunted. But it captured my heart and imagination. I knew I could make it fabulous and I hope that more builders will use this type of layout and structure – it makes so much sense for modern living.”
Jennava set out to renovate the spacious one-level, 3,336-square-foot, five-bedroom, three-bath private sanctuary surrounded by lush woods. Situated off Long Hollow Pike, the house cups the hillside with a Tennessee red river rock facade, incredible concrete work and massive skylights which open into a spectacular villa style interior. Left unused for over a decade, the house was in major need of major renovation and extensive remodel. “My amazing crew trusted me with some super weird requests. They diligently worked alongside me 10 hour days, 6 days a week for months and they never told me no. In the end we were able to make magic happen. The house is designed in homage to the natural world; whenever possible I sourced organic materials and incorporated them into every aspect of the design. I made as much use of found materials when I was creating the art – the driftwood in the hanging botanical sculptures I made are from Old Hickory Dam. When I personally did the masonry in the kitchen space, I used rocks from around the property and finished them with a whitewash that I tinted according to the undertones individually for visual continuity. I personally hand stained every board in the ceiling a custom color by blending three different products. My background as an artist gave me the skills to be hand-on during the entire process.”
The other living spaces are a modern mountain lodge, 1,452-square-foot apartment with 20-foot ceilings, a huge open space living / dining / kitchen area with two bedrooms, one bath and panoramic windows. The third unit is a charming mother-in-law apartment, a 500-square foot cottage with a full kitchen, one bedroom, one bath.
Jennava was raised in Nashville; attended Ensworth with the class of ’99, then after two years at Lipscomb High School she went west to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where she earned her BFA and MFA. She is the daughter of Nashville lawyer and law professor, Lewis Laska, (Vanderbilt and Belmont alum) who also invested in real estate around the city. Jennava began investing in properties in Nashville in the early 2000s with the help of her grandmother and has co-owned and managed properties for her father for the last two decades. Jennava follows her father’s real estate theory: “Buy the worst properties that no one else wants, add value however you can and then never sell.” Her journey back to Nashville was filled with lots of valuable life experiences and a bevy of skills learned during her time in California.
This entrepreneurial millennial called the Hollywood hills home for 17 years before returning to live on the river in Madison to be closer to her father and “bonus” mom. She sold her furniture company in November 2019 to a big name brand. In celebration of the sale, she had booked a round the world cruise but the war in Russia and subsequent pandemic had other plans. Eventually, government mandates required her to close her film studio so she returned home to Nashville in March of 2020. In pandemic boredom she studied and passed the contractor exam and earned her license. In Los Angeles she was also a television commercial director and has stayed in the film industry in Nashville.
During the pandemic, she also digitized her personal collection of 3-million feet of 16mm archival film footage of Nashville and national news reels spanning 1954 to 1972. Right now about half the clips are cataloged and viewable on Getty Images and she’s in production on a documentary about the archive.
Laska’s the contractor license, she founded Laska Construction in 2021. The company is credentialed as a woman-owned business and her crew helped build Vanderbilt University’s new Owen Graduate School of Business. Her company is currently a sub-contractor on on a luxury condo project on Woodmont Boulevard called The Manning. Her construction company is niche in that it focuses on being concierge to pull off difficult requests with a focus on ultra high end quality.
Her background in film and construction created a synergy of skills. She says, “The film industry and the construction industry are so similar; it’s just different titles to describe the same job with a different end product. A script is the same as blueprints, a producer is the same as a developer, a director is the same as a superintendent, a production designer is the same as the interior designer. It may not seem similar from afar but on the granular level, all business is pretty much the same and mastering it is the differential in why some people are successful. Understanding and executing the vision while having clear communication and focused direction is fundamental and something I strive for during all working hours. In the end, finished construction projects rely heavily on photography and film imagery to sell, advertise and capture what has been created. These two industries cannot thrive without constant creativity and are somewhat dependent on the other.”
With the underground house being her most recent project to be completed, Jennava devoted endless hours to bring her vision to life and let her imagination and artistry guide the project with a mix of enchanting whimsy and old world craftsmanship. Jennava helmed the project wearing many hats – general contractor, interior designer, developer, investor, sculptor and artist. While this property is the largest of her portfolio of vacation rental properties, her personal favorite is a small one-bedroom apartment in a 1890’s building in the fabulous resort town of Opatija, Croatia that has sweeping views of the Mediterranean sea. “Kvarner Bay remains relatively unknown by Americans but it is spectacular with sophisticated influences of Italy and Austria during the height of Victorian era glamour. English is widely spoken in Croatia and it has islands that rival anything in Greece. My building was built by Hungarian Jews, survived two world wars, then communism when it was known as Yugoslavia, and through it all has truly been its nickname – “The Pearl” of the Adriatic.” Jennava’s focus has been vacation rentals for a reason. “Life is not about material things. It is about experiences. People over possessions. Everyone should be “world-schooled” and travel as much as they possibly can. Creating special places for people to gather and enjoy moments, make memories and escape the ordinary life will be in hearts forever. My rentals are just the background for a story but it sets the stage for something extraordinary. It is extremely fulfilling to be a part of someone’s travels.”
This property has been her opus, but the always pivoting Jennava is currently working on several other projects around middle Tennessee that are in various development stages. “For the next couple years I will be focusing more on film and commercial construction projects that are new builds rather than residential or renovation projects. I want to create spaces that more people can enjoy. And with all investments, I am going to diversify my real estate holdings which will allow me to invest more into my own bank of professional skills. I will never have a singular title, and that’s exactly how I want it. I will never fit into a box, but I’ll build a fabulous parallelogram or trapezoid.”