When guests step inside this Eads, TN home for the first time, the first question they usually ask is, “How old is this place?” Affectionately dubbed “the barn” by its owners and design team, the house, to these guests’ surprise, is brand-new.
Built for a family of five that frequently entertains groups both large and small, the home rests on 22 acres of bucolic land along the eastern fringe of the Memphis metro area. When the homeowners bought the property and contracted Nashville architect Brad Norris to design the house, they knew they wanted a barn-like space that complemented the site’s rural rusticity. They also knew they wanted to work with Memphis interior designer Teresa Davis of Post 31 Interiors to pull together a space that balanced the home’s rough-hewn reclaimed woods and soaring, barn-like dimensions with a rural-chic aesthetic that merged rusticity with glamour.
It’s modern farmhouse-meets-magazine chic. Or, as Teresa likes to say, “The whole house is a fluffed-up man cave.”
Natural materials and organic elements are what give the house its timeless quality. When Teresa and her clients were working with Brad to select the home’s finishes, they were offered two choices. One, new timbers that had been weathered by craftspeople to look old. Or two, authentic 100-year-old timbers. The homeowners went with the latter.
“They decided that they really wanted to stick with the authentic,” Teresa says. “That drove the decisions on all of the selections for the architecture.”
When it came to the interiors, however, the homeowners chose not to take the rusticity to an extreme. “They didn’t want it to look like a hunting lodge,” Teresa says. “They wanted it livable and comfortable, and they wanted people to walk in and just feel like they were right at home — to sit down and put their feet up and really live in this space.”
The hardwood floors and ceiling timbers were constructed from reclaimed wood. “Using authentic materials, it creates this soul that you really can’t achieve any other way. And people feel it right when they walk in,” Teresa says. As she worked with the homeowners to design the interior, she spent hours learning not only about their color preferences and design tastes, but also how they live and how they wanted their space to feel.
“What we decided was to keep it fairly neutral, to keep all of our fabrics neutral and vary the textures to give it interest,” she says. “Also, it just seemed to work really well with the barn. I always try to do a balance in my work, so if I have something very rustic, then I want something very luxe to sit with it. We incorporated lots of linens, velvets, hides — we have sheepskin, we have silk.”
As for the overall palette, the homeowner prefers soft, calming ocean hues. Teresa layered soft blues and greens against the neutral walls and furnishings to weave a harmonizing thread from room to room. Sticking with neutrals on basic pieces is a design trick she likes to employ. “It doesn’t date your house,” she explains. “If you use a lot of neutrals, you can always layer in a different palette every five years on top of the neutrals. And I think varying the texture is what I like most about it.”
Original art forms another thread that runs throughout the house, and Teresa worked with L Ross Gallery owner Linda Ross to source several pieces. Metallics provide a visual punch throughout the rooms, adding to the home’s layered textures and bringing an element of glamour. “I love the punch of gold and silver and bronze in different places,” Teresa says. “It gives a spark against the backdrop of the rustic elements.”
Unexpected elements greet visitors the moment they enter the spacious foyer. Teresa commissioned a pair of custom benches with high, tufted backs to flank the arched double doorway. Says Teresa, “The architect had drawn a fairly large front entry foyer, so we were thinking, ‘how can we maximize this space?’ What I ultimately did was design these two upholstered benches, and they sit directly across from each other right inside the front doors. We decided they could use them for additional dining seating – they could pull up tables and people could sit in the entry for overflow dining or for drinks or conversation. It creates another room for them to use.”
Also in the entry hall is a grand piano played by the homeowners’ three children. “It was a perfect spot for that,” Teresa says. “It’s just such a wonderful multipurpose space. A lot of times an entry gets so little attention – you go through it so quickly. But they really use this space.”
The main living area also serves as a multifunctional space, with cozy seating oriented around the central stone fireplace and an open dining area with a mix of wood and upholstered seating. The light fixtures in the living area took some thought. “There’s a lot of space overhead,” Teresa says. “To the top of the ceiling, I believe it’s 30 feet, and the room is 30 feet long. We just weren’t finding anything that I felt was the right scale for that space, and so I had those custom-made.” The bottom ring of each two-tiered fixture is six feet in diameter, and the top ring is five feet. “Those, too, use recycled materials,” Teresa says.
In the kitchen, a French Lacanche range with a custom hood fabricated by David Doss steals the show. White lower cabinetry and dark countertops provide a palette of neutrals in this space, and windows line the wall above the sink in place of upper cabinets. Above the island, two pendant fixtures feature clustered glass orbs that mimic the bold entry hall fixture. “It’s unexpected, kind of a surprise and a little bit of glamour on top of the rustic feel,” Teresa says.
The family chose to turn what might have been a dining space into an entertainment space. “One of the fun things we did to personalize the space for their family — we took what was going to be the breakfast room and put in a large pool and ping-pong table,” Teresa says. “They use that all the time.”
Another much-loved space is a study and lounging loft that overlooks the main living area. “There was still enough space that I thought, gosh, let’s incorporate some beds up here,” Teresa says. “So Brad drew beds, and we lofted two twin beds above the sofa for extra sleeping. And, of course, that’s prime real estate — everybody wants to sleep up there.”
Behind the built-in bar downstairs is a stained glass window salvaged from a 1920s-era chapel in a historic Memphis building. The design team backlit the window, which is recessed into an interior wall. “It really grounds the house, gives it historical significance and great meaning,” Teresa says. “And it has a nice palette, too — some of those really pretty soft blues and greens.”
Another cool design moment happened in one of the home’s bathrooms. The homeowner gave Teresa a photo of a vanity she loved, and Teresa set about recreating it. She and her client searched and searched for just the right wheels to install on the bottom of the reclaimed wood vanity but couldn’t find them. And then, while walking through the living area, they spied the perfect set of wheels on some scaffolding the contractors were using to work on the fireplace. “All at once we both just did a double-take and looked at each other and went, ‘Look at those wheels!’ We approached the masons as they were working and explained that we really wanted those wheels, and, of course, they thought we were nuts. They couldn’t understand what we wanted them for,” Teresa says with a laugh. “Ultimately I got ahold of the scaffolding company and purchased those rusted wheels.”
When the homeowners set out to build the home, they did it with the intent of one day building a larger main residence on the property that connects to the “barn” itself, which they eventually would use to host events and house guests. However, now that the family is living in the house, they love it so much they’re not certain whether they’ll follow through with that original plan.
“We’re still kind of up in the air on the future,” the homeowner says. “We’ve been so content with this home — it’s just beautiful. Teresa designed it to be functional for us to live in, but it’s also got a lot of open space that allows us to entertain or to have large groups over. It’s been great as our home and as our place for entertainment. We appreciate that, because it gives us the option to stay here forever or to build if we decide to. But I can tell you that we have just fallen in love with being here.”
The family also loves their newfound room to roam on their rural oasis. “There’s a beautiful pond, and they just have really enjoyed that outdoor space,” Teresa says. “They entertain a lot. They’ve been as happy as can be with their space.”
Thank you to Emily Minton Redfield for the gorgeous images of this home.
And thank you to Teresa Davis of Post 31 Interiors for sharing her work.
Architecture: Brad Norris of Norris Architecture
Interior Design: Teresa Davis of Post 31 Interiors
Landscape Architect: Isaac Wantland of Wantland Ink
Custom hood in kitchen: David Doss of Twisted Dimensions
Art: Linda Ross of L Ross Gallery
Plants: Millstone Market & Nursery
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