In East Memphis, tucked inside the private, gated community of Kel Creek Cove, sits a stately, remodeled beauty that boasts the masterful work of Memphis-based R. Co. Construction. In collaboration with designer Rachel Gray, R. Co. owner EJ Cox and his team used their magic touch to help the homeowners upgrade their space with stunning modern design features. Originally constructed in 1997, the single-family residence relied on columns and interior arches for style and structural support, anchoring it with outdated characteristics craving refinement.
In its post-renovation form, the two-story, 3,100-square-foot home fuses a classic foundation with contemporary nuances. Collected art pieces offer splashes of color that offset clean lines and unique architectural embellishments. “It was really a collaboration with the homeowner,” says EJ of the overall aesthetic. “Our clients knew the look they were going for, which is a good thing. A lot of times you’ll hear contractors say they are working with a picky homeowner, but I like that better — you know exactly what they want. It’s easier to pull out what they’re thinking and turn it into the end product.”
Together with Rachel, who EJ credits with handling all of the detail work, they brought the homeowner’s vision to life. In a surprising turn, they managed to complete the studs-down remodel in just over two months. “Working with EJ and his team under the demanding timeframe for this project was professional, seamless, and enjoyable,” Rachel tells us of the collaboration. Regardless of the quick turnaround, the quality of the work speaks for itself. An abundance of windows, eye-catching wallcoverings, avant-garde light fixtures, and a sitting room that offers a dose of masculinity are just a few of the standout features of the zero-lot-line, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home.
The foyer offers the first indication of just how much natural light fills this Kel Creek Cove residence. General contractor R. Co. Construction turned this space into the perfect welcome home entryway, accented by beautiful wallpaper sourced by designer Rachel Gray. Note the wonderful painting that hangs over the bar cart, an inherited piece depicting one of the homeowners as a child.
“Updating the kitchen and master bath were the big pieces of the remodel,” EJ tells us of the Kel Creek Cove residence. In the kitchen, they revised pre-existing cabinetry with a new coat of paint and flat-panel doors that bear no detail. “It’s what they call a slab front,” EJ says, explaining that current trim trends are moving away from the older, Shaker-style cabinetry previously found in the house.
The homeowners already had these Norman Cherner mid-century classic, molded plywood stools, which provide beautiful contrast amongst the stark white cabinets.
The construction team reworked the unconventionally shaped kitchen space to accommodate a new, full-height refrigerator, and they rounded out the gourmet area with a double oven and coffee station inlet.
An eat-in breakfast nook off the kitchen is ideal for sipping morning coffee and reading the newspaper.
The formal dining room in this Kel Creek Cove home initially possessed curved archways on both sides. While one was walled off to create a modern, squared-off feel, they restructured the other to create a more defined space.
In discussing the evolution of remodeling a home, EJ notes there’s often a vast difference between a project’s inception and its end result. “Once you get into it and start seeing the space, folks can visualize it a little better,” he says. Here, the homeowner had a good handle on what she wanted and leaned on the designer to pull it together. “There are so many decisions that have to be made in construction, and a lot of times, we have to design them early on in the process, which can be overwhelming. So it’s great to have a designer involved who can kind of hold your hand through that,” EJ says. “I tell everybody we’re really good at the big and messy, and then we lean on the designers to make it attractive.” Fortunately, this collaboration was an easy one, and they worked hand-in-hand to give the home its elegant modern makeover.
The layout of the house contributes to the flow, offering two bedrooms upstairs and the master bedroom on the first floor. The majority of the main living space is on the first level, in fact, including a sitting room that doubles as an office. “The primary core of the house is the living room and kitchen area downstairs,” says EJ. “It’s a little unique because the kitchen is still kind of its own space, where most of the newer floorplans are open. I feel like I’ve seen a trend in the past year or so where things are going back to having more defined spaces.”
The living room offers a light-filled, cozy place to relax, enjoy a fire or exit to the patio through one of several operable doors.
Custom-made built-in shelves flank the gas fireplace. Intriguing art pieces, such as the swan table, are interspersed throughout the rooms. Rachel tells us one of the homeowners has a passion for “junking adventures,” which has led to collecting fun objects over the years.
The fireplace was already a featured focal point, but the new limestone mantle and surround offer a fresh, modern take.
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The downstairs powder room boasts wallpaper on not only the walls but the ceiling. “Wallpaper has made a comeback,” says EJ. This dark wallcovering, which resembles a tile mosaic, is balanced out by a floating vanity and bright gold fixtures from Ferguson.
“The powder room always ends up being the coolest room in the house,” EJ says. “I think people feel that if there’s going to be a funky room, they can get away with it being the powder room. And if someone is using an expensive wallpaper, they don’t have a huge space to cover with it, so they have a little more flexibility with what they can pull off.”
With windows that start at the floor and work their way up, the master bedroom is both dignified and dramatic.
Most of the master bedroom renovations involved basic aesthetics, but the R. Co. team refinished the hardwood floors and removed two windows to create a more prominent wall for the bed.
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The construction team gutted the master bathroom, though the layout didn’t change. They also installed all new cabinetry, dual his-and-hers sinks, a freestanding soaker tub and an impressive floor-to-ceiling tile backdrop. “We wanted to give it a kind of spa-like feel,” EJ tells us. “It is probably a 12-by-10-foot-high tile wall, and it’s a super cool feature that really catches the eye when you walk in.”
“It’s a smaller master bathroom, so we were trying to make it feel bigger all the way around,” EJ says of the massive mirror they installed, which is a solid piece that required removing the casing from one of the doors to get it in. Of the unique lighting fixture sitting on top of it, Rachel says, “The master bathroom sconce features straight glass rods with a demi-circle shade and satin nickel finishes.”
Thoughtfully placed windows maximize the natural light in this dark, masculine sitting room, providing a stunning contrast. A double-doored closet keeps office equipment hidden from view.
“The homeowner works from home a lot, and the sitting room has kind of become his office,” EJ tells us. We don’t blame him. The matching wall and trim, done in Sherwin-Williams “Black Fox,” is a beautiful and compelling statement.
See more projects by EJ Cox and the R. Co. Construction team at rcoconstruct.com. All photography by Jennifer Saltsman.
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