When Gwen Driscoll’s longtime clients moved into their East Memphis home 15 years ago, their children were young and their tastes traditional. Gwen helped the family pull together a design that perfectly met their needs. They loved the house and lived in it happily for years, raising their two sons in it. But as those young boys grow into young men, the family knew they needed the home to grow with them.

Gwen Driscoll living room
In this traditional East Memphis home, interior designer Gwen Driscoll blends the old with the new to create comfortable, functional and updated spaces that evolve with the family and suit their active lifestyle.

“Before the renovation, they really didn’t have a playroom or any space that was designed for active teenagers,” says Gwen, interior designer and owner of Driscoll Design & Decoration. “It’s not that it’s a small house, it’s just an old house that didn’t have the extra spaces that we seem to need with the way we live today.”

Gwen’s challenge was to update the space in a way that expanded the family’s living areas without detracting from the home’s graceful architecture by T. Douglas Enoch Architects & Associates. Her side goal? To marry her clients’ love of traditional design with their playful spirit and desire for a home that functions well with modern life.

Gwen Driscoll living room bay
Playful draperies frame the lush backyard view while pulling in one of the homeowner’s favorite motifs: graphic black and white.
Gwen Driscoll dining room
In this stunning formal dining room, the homeowners’ existing carpet served as a guide for the space, while the graphic, updated wallpaper is new.
Gwen Driscoll dining and living
Traditional furnishings blend with modern textiles throughout the home. Color plays a big part in the design, with fun, unexpected hues like purple and orange forming a thread that carries from room to room.

Both the husband and wife are traditionalists, says Gwen. “But she also has a very quirky, interesting eye, and that’s one of the reasons I love working for them. She loves art and is always adding to her collection of art.” The wife’s preferred palette includes purple, chartreuse and teal, as well as oranges and reds — not necessarily a traditional combination. She also loves graphic black-and-white textiles and art. “That was really the essential design goal — to use all of those colors she loves and continue the design in the new spaces while keeping some of the original design, like the family room with its brick wall and fireplace,” Gwen says. “It was integrating the design that we’d done years ago, refreshing some of the spaces that we didn’t renovate and then incorporating the new, renovated spaces with the existing design.”

Gwen Driscoll media room
A media room is among the new spaces added in the renovation. Gwen worked with the homeowners to incorporate the additions seamlessly, carrying colors they already loved into the new spaces.
Gwen Driscoll playroom
A new playroom is a spot for the family’s two teenage sons to entertain friends. Neutral walls and modern lighting update the space for 2017.

The renovation included the addition of several new spaces, namely a playroom, media room and screened-in porch. “The whole back of the house was added onto and renovated,” Gwen says. “And then some work was done with the plant room, the garage and laundry room.” The “plant room” is a hobby area-turned-showplace for the wife, who loves gardening and wanted space to store equipment and carry out her planting projects.

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To create the space, Gwen played on its botanical theme using unexpected colors and materials. The room’s black-and-white wallpaper gives a nod to the homeowner’s love of all things floral while allowing actual flowers and plants to bring color to the space. “We decided to put a graphic geometric tile that she likes on the floor, and we used a wallpaper that didn’t have a lot of color — because flowers do. But it is a large-scale floral. And that’s absolutely one of my favorite spaces in their house, for two reasons: I think it looks fabulous, and it’s very functional for them.”

Gwen Driscoll garden room
This hobby space serves as a spot for gardening projects, with ample storage and a floral motif that fits the space. Wallpaper on the ceiling, coupled with the room’s narrow footprint, gives the space a jewel-box effect.

With its whitewashed brick walls, sky blue ceiling and deep, woven sofas, the new screened-in porch is another of the family’s favorite areas. “It’s a fabulous space they use year-round,” Gwen says. “It has a fireplace, and it’s really like another room for them. We furnished it with lots of really comfortable seating, and they spend a whole lot of time out there. Their boys even sleep out there when it’s not too cold. It’s just a great space.”

Gwen Driscoll sun porch
This sunny, screened-in porch provides extra square footage for the family year-round. A sky blue slatted ceiling is both traditional and fun.

Though the living room, family room, dining room and built-in bar aren’t new, Gwen worked to integrate the design of the existing spaces with the overall look and feel of the renovation. A new side entrance near the bar adds access from the driveway. The bar’s soft blue hue — Mountain Laurel by Benjamin Moore — threads through the adjacent family room, with its warm brick hearth and comfy red leather chair.

Gwen Driscoll home bar
The built-in bar was part of the home’s existing design. Gwen added the soft blue hue to update the space and connect it with the adjacent family room.
Gwen Driscoll family room
Quirky art and a fun color palette give this family room its comfy, approachable charm.

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Gwen Driscoll fabrics
Fun fabrics in both modern and traditional prints tie this room’s existing pieces to the home’s refreshed interiors, breathing new life into the space.

Although the living room has a slightly more urbane feel, Gwen worked to keep it playful and approachable. “It’s a very large room, but it’s not an overly formal room,” she says. “We used that black-and-white silk fabric on the windows and lots of color in the textiles, and overall it’s a beautiful space, but it’s also a space they use.” The violet hues in the painting above the fireplace — a work by Carroll Cloar that the husband inherited from family — repeat throughout the room, bringing a gentle rhythm to the space. That’s by design.

“The main thing when I think about them as clients is that they’re both very warm, genuine, inviting people, and I feel like their home really reflects that,” Gwen says. “They love color, and it’s not a boring house. It’s a happy, fun, really unique — I use the word quirky — just not your run-of-the-mill house. And I think that’s what makes it special.”

Gwen Driscoll living room
The home’s existing living room got an update with fresh paint, new draperies and a new coral wing chair that adds a splash of color near the traditional fireplace.

Thank you to Julie Wage Ross for today’s beautiful images!


Want to peek inside some other stylish Memphis homes? Check out StyleBlueprint’s Memphis Home & Decor page.

About the Author
Stacey Wiedower