The Dwell Hotel in Chattanooga
Built in 1909, Chattanooga’s Dwell Hotel has roots earlier than the midcentury, but the hotel’s owner decided to take a different chapter of the establishment’s history as inspiration for the redesign. Photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel.

With a photo for inspiration and a building full of history, Seija Ojanpera brought The Dwell Hotel to its feet as the popular Midcentury Modern getaway in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The original hotel opened in 1909, and in 2016, Ojanpera, the owner, discovered a photograph of the hotel in the ’50s. Rather than returning the building to its Victorian roots, she decided to take a more retro path. She had four months to redo the hotel and bring it back to its former glory.

Dwell Hotel lobby
Attention to detail and keeping many original elements is how Ojanpera was able to keep some of the original flavor of The Dwell Hotel. Photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel.
Terra Mae restaurant
With the bold palm wallpaper leading the design, the parlor of the Terra Máe restaurant brings a truly Palm Springs-esque vibe to the South. Photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel
Terra Mae
The dining room of Terra Máe is a wonderful mix of Art Deco and midcentury vibes, from the hotel’s signature bold wallpaper to the Danish-style dining chairs. Photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel.

The Rooms

What makes this hotel stand out among the rest is its unique rooms. The hotel has 16 rooms and each one is different from the last. The crux of each room’s design stems from the wallpaper—all of the furnishings and the themes carried throughout each room is inspired by the patterns and colors on the walls. Just when you think the personalized wallpaper is the coolest part, the hotel uses authentic vintage furniture. There are a small handful of upscale hotels that provide their guests with this type of authenticity. From The Tiki room to The Puzzle suite, each room explores a different side of mid mod design. Although many guests claim to favor The Flamingo room, Ojanpera says the room dearest to her heart is The Dandelion room because of its serenity.

the Dwell Hotel Mod Executive Suite
Appropriately named “The Mod,” one of The Dwell Hotel’s executive suites blends that funky mod vibe with the prewar brick walls of the hotel’s bones. Photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel.
Matilda Midnight parlor
Somewhere between midcentury and contemporary, the unique parlor space of Matilda Midnight, the hotel’s bar, offers a comfortable and stylish space to enjoy some of that Southern hospitality. Photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel.

The Design

The Dwell has attracted a lot of visitors because of its aesthetic style and retro design. Ojanpera suggests that when decorating a room, you should focus on one element and create a room around it. For the rooms in The Dwell, Ojanpera took inspiration from the wallpaper, but this goes for any graphic print or feature in your own space. She also reminds designers to keep continuity and authenticity in mind: Indulge in that piece of vintage furniture and find that matching set. Thoughtful design never goes unnoticed.

Matilda Midnight bar
Deco speakeasy meets modern watering hole at Matilda Midnight’s dark and moody bar. Photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel.

The Experience

When walking into The Dwell Hotel, guests can immediately see the care that has been put into the design because of the hotel’s continuity. Small details, like light fixtures, have been kept the same throughout, and the noticeable authenticity of the style moves through the building.

The hotel is also situated in the beautiful Southern city of Chattanooga, where visitors can explore Tennessee’s history and some true Southern hospitality. Vacationers will truly be able to escape, as the hotel is dedicated to providing an experience inside and out of the rooms.

Even if you’re just looking for a break from it all, The Dwell prides itself on its luxury accommodations and its constant décor inspiration.

For more information, or to plan your trip, visit


This article is part of our 2017 Atomic Getaways series. For more of our favorite midcentury hotspots, restaurants and must-see travel destinations, check out the rest of our series.