For 15 years, this East Memphis home was filled with the noise, laughter and constant activity of kids — the homeowners’ two children and their friends. Their daughter is now a senior in college, and when their son left for college as well, the homeowners took a breath, looked around and decided it was time for a change.
“Since we’d been here so long, we kept thinking, ‘OK, are we going to sell the house? Are we going to add on? What are we going to do?’” the wife says. “We decided to stay here and just update everything.”
The family went to church with interior designer Cindy McCord, and the wife saw their renovation as her chance to work with a designer whose style she’d admired for a long time. “I’ve seen several houses she’s done, and I just love them. She’s just simple, classy. I love her style.”
In the past, the house had been vibrant with color — reds, yellows, greens. The homeowners were ready to wash that away … to embrace a restful, relaxing palette that both updated the space and provided a soothing ambiance to enjoy their empty-nester years. Cindy helped the family pare through their furnishings, artwork and antiques to keep the pieces that fit their current tastes and lifestyle. Then, they set about filling in with new pieces that complemented the new design.
“With the new pieces, we achieved a more updated look,” Cindy says. “Basically we simplified and neutralized and softened everything. We kept the same feel but much more elegant and timeless with neutrals and some gold fixtures and soft gold accents added in. I do try to use as many pieces they already have as I can.”
Working alongside contractor Jimmy Wittenberg of Wittenberg Construction, Cindy chose soft neutrals for every wall in the house with one important splurge — a Phillip Jeffries wallpaper in the entry hall that brings a visual punch the moment a guest walks through the front door.
In that space, Cindy added a curve-front chest with a distressed finish that gives it the look of a timeworn antique. Above it she hung an antique mirror she spotted in Atlanta. Its gold finish harmonizes with a show-stopping gold light fixture by Visual Comfort.
The formal living room just off the entry is quietly elegant with its mix of tailored and casual furnishings, its soft palette of neutrals and its oversized, lantern-style light fixture that carries the theme of gold accents from the entry into the rest of the home. “I think the living room is probably my favorite space, with the big mirror over the fireplace,” Cindy says. “It just opened it up, and with the large lantern, I think that space just came alive.”
She created a new feeling of intimacy in the nearby dining room with soft artwork, a neutral carpet and a long dining table that fills the space without crowding it. A delicate chandelier by Niermann Weeks adds an almost romantic quality to the room. “The dining room to me is just more intimate now,” Cindy says.
The homeowners updated the kitchen when they bought the home 15 years ago, and rather than a total revamp, they opted for a subtle facelift, keeping the existing configuration and cabinetry but replacing countertops with quartz, changing out hardware and fixtures, and painting walls in the same soft, neutral hues used elsewhere in the house. The bathrooms, however, were a different story.
“Since we were empty-nesters, we kind of thought, are we going to stay here, or are we going to sell it down the road?” the homeowner says. “Either way we knew we were going to have to update the bathrooms. When the kids were home it was just a harder thing to even think about — it disrupts your life so much. We lived here during the renovation. The builder would do two bathrooms and we’d still have one. If the children were here, it would have been a lot harder to go through that process.”
The master bath, in particular, was completely gutted and revitalized. “It was a total redo,” Cindy says. “We did marble with new plumbing fixtures, a new bathtub, new cabinets. It really is a nice-size bathroom, and we did the whole space.” Another gold lantern-inspired pendant fixture, this one softened with rounded lines, adds a jewelry-like sparkle to the room. A built-in vanity is the perfect spot for a stunning lucite chair with a white leather seat. And the space flows seamlessly into the master bedroom, which is another of Cindy’s and the homeowners’ favorite spaces.
The bedroom features several new pieces, including the upholstered bed with its sinuous, tufted headboard, as well as new bedside tables and lamps. Cindy reused a chaise lounge by reupholstering it in a crisp white fabric. Topped with a whimsical, soft blue throw from Pine Cone Hill and teamed with a ceramic side table and a brass floor lamp, it creates a pretty vignette that’s also a functional reading nook.
“My bedroom — I just go in there and say, ‘Ahhh,’” the homeowner says. “My bathroom, it’s awesome, too. People tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the prettiest bathroom.” Adds Cindy, “The master bedroom is just soft, and that became very peaceful. All the spaces just took on this soft, soft transformation. And we have minimal things in there — all things that mean something.”
Cindy says she enjoyed working on this project both because she already knew and loved the homeowners, but also because when the project was complete, the home had undergone a complete metamorphosis — not just in style or color or materials, but in feel. It’s a breath of fresh air.
The homeowners are in love with their new space, so much so that the wife can’t name a favorite room.
“I love the whole house,” she says. “It was so fun when Cindy did the installation. I wasn’t here, and when I came home, I was like, ‘Oh, my word.’ It was just hard to even imagine. I had seen everything, but to see it all put together, it was unbelievable!”
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.