Inside this light-filled South Bluffs home, which overlooks the Mississippi River, the focus is on the sweeping views, and the overall design is a practice in restraint. To avoid taking attention away from the home’s natural beauty, LRK’s Founding Principal Carson Looney, working with RKA Construction, balanced the natural light and captured the views with large windows. Marley Fields of Fields Landscape Architecture maximized the small exterior space, and Leslie Murphy, owner and creative director of Murphy Maude Interiors, and Sara Walden of Sara Walden Interiors, further enhanced the minimalist interiors.
“The look is very organic with a light, bright and airy design, as well as wood elements that lend the interiors to the place and space in which the home is located,” says Leslie. “It is easy to design a beautiful home when you are working with these fundamentally beautiful natural elements.”
The homeowners, a Memphis couple looking to downsize, craved a simplistic design with a crisp color palette. Leslie stepped in to assist with color choices and tile and countertops selections but gives appropriate credit to the design-minded half of the couple, who has an extraordinary eye for interiors. Leslie captured the homeowner’s desire for “soft tones with warm elements to keep the home inviting,” and added in her own ideas for a “refreshed” design. The living room, for example, is comfortable and inviting, and a mix of materials creates warmth while a neutral palette establishes consistency. Subtle accents of color live in the beams, flooring and a rich brown leather chair that feels quite luxurious. The furnishings and finishes were kept simple to optimize the gorgeous views, and the designer was intentional in leaving the walls and windows unadorned.
It is the views of the Mississippi River that attract locals to this river-side neighborhood near downtown Memphis. When the neighborhood gained its first home 25 years ago, Carson Looney of LRK handled the project. “It was neat to do the first home (and many more over the years), as well as the last,” he says of completing this South Bluffs home.
Special attention was given to the stairway that sits in the center of the home; windows are staggered as you go up the wide (not-too-steep) stairs with a U-shape in the center that allows for the addition of an elevator. The stairs lead to an elegant landing and the home’s main living spaces that sit on the second floor.
The sun-soaked living room with panoramic views holds an equally gorgeous design marked by a neutral colorway and warm, wood accents. At every stage of the home-building process, consideration was given to the amount of natural light in the home, and the architect and designers balanced this light appropriately, saving the homeowners the pain of a glare at sunset.
When it came to the furnishings, designer Sara Walden of Sara Walden Interiors assisted the owner in selecting a mix of inviting pieces that don’t compete with the views, so the windows remain the room’s focal point.
Wood beams stretch the height of the ceiling in the living room and add warmth and texture. The design team applied a transitional design to the interior and exterior of the home so it can transcend time and trends.
When it came to materials, architect Carson Looney used timbers with a natural stain for the entryway and custom garage doors to juxtapose the clean, white exterior. The contrast continues throughout this South Bluffs home with wood tone cabinets in the kitchen and first- and second-floor master bedrooms, and the exposed beams in the second-story living room that complement the cool color scheme.
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The clean, streamlined aesthetic continues outside as landscape designer Marley Fields delivered a low-maintenance landscape of evergreen plant materials and uninterrupted enjoyment of the natural setting. Opening to the “borrowed landscape,” the exposed patio features a stainless steel, triangle-like spa set within the travertine hardscape, as well as a fire pit. Between the simplistic interiors beaming with light and the inviting outdoor spaces, this home is a place for the owners to enjoy the simple things in life, like great views of the Mississippi River.
Materials mix nicely in the kitchen, which centers around a graciously sized island that injects a cozy feel and offsets the all-white countertops and cabinetry.
On full display from the living room, the kitchen is expertly designed. For additional functionality, a pantry was added behind the kitchen, and a dumbwaiter makes moving groceries from the garage to the kitchen quick and easy.
Glass windows and doors allow indoor and outdoor spaces to merge together. Both share a simple, “uncluttered” design that doesn’t detract from the sweeping vistas. When putting together a house with so many windows, privacy and the ability to withstand the elements were paramount. Carson took the time to address both.
A grill was added to the walk-out deck on the second floor that is framed in wood paneling. Direct your eye up to see the wooden fan, a nice surprise in the space.
Exceptional outdoor living spaces are a priority when the views and abundance of natural beauty are this good.
The husband works in the steel industry, so this stainless steel spa is a meaningful piece for the homeowners. Its size allows for more hardscape, something the owners desired, and its position on the patio gives the spa an infinity-like edge.
Landscape design that takes advantage of the “borrowed landscape” is just what this home needed. The hardscape is easy to maintain, and the evergreens require little in the way of a green thumb.
The house is rooted in good bones and a design that has been celebrated for its modern design elements, as well as its traditional character, making it a fitting capstone on the neighborhood’s residential construction.
By locating the main living spaces on the second floor, the owners can better maintain their privacy. The home has two master bedrooms (one on each floor) and has been designed for the owners to age within the comfort of the current design.
An iron fence and a light application of evergreen materials are the only things separating this South Bluffs home from the Mighty Mississippi.
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“Having a team of professionals involved from day one throughout construction to make sure the implementation is done correctly and in a timely manner is what makes any construction project successful,” says Ryan Anderson of RKA Construction. This design team, which included RKA Construction, LRK Architects, Murphy Maude Interiors, Fields Landscape Architecture, and Sara Walden Interiors clearly succeeded!
All photos by Stefanie Rawlinson Photography.
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