Fine French Chateau

R.S.V.P. Memphis March 2006

Written by Lesley Harris Colvett and Dabney Coors

Photographed by Steve Roberts

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Continental. Stunning. Elegant. These are just a few words to describe the ambiance of this exquisite East Memphis home. Located in an exclusive neighborhood, the home was originally built and designed to be in keeping with the other custom homes on the street. But this homeowner had a different vision: “I wanted a more unique home, different from all the others.” And with that sentiment the homeowner, who asked not to be named, along with the help of an architect and her long-time designer, Bill Eubanks, president of William R. Eubanks Interior Design, Inc., and design associate Mitch Brown made extensive revisions to the original design, so the house reflects her personal taste.

“To me, this is like a French chateau,” the homeowner said. While the exterior of the home is Georgian in style, the interior offers an eclectic mix of furnishings - English, French and Chinese. The mélange creates continental appeal. The homeowner’s fondness of France is exhibited in furniture and objets d’art in almost every room of the home. Many of these furnishings were personally selected by the lady of the house in her several journeys to that country. Her love affair with France is evident in the many pieces she could not leave behind.

The living room provides the perfect space to display many of these French finds, namely the lovely painting above the fireplace, as well as, the porcelain monkey band that sits atop the mantle. Another outstanding collection of longstanding interest to the homeowner is of limoges boxes. Eubanks and Brown point out that the fireplace was custom-made by Chesney’s of London. It is in beautifully carved George III-style rendered in carrara white marble and detailed in old sienna gold. The window treatments provide a dramatic look by combining two sophisticated fabrics. A gray and gold striped fabric is pieced and counter pointed with regular intervals of a tone-on-tone leaf pattern. The overall effect is subtle and sophisticated.

Beautiful trim work and columns fill the entry, dining room, living room and study. These architectural details set the house apart and make the interior unique. “Each room in the home uses gray on the walls as a color foil for brilliant colors,” Eubanks and Brown agreed. According to the designers, the homeowner really enjoys color, and splashes of gorgeous yellows, melons and red vividly contrast with the demure wall colors. The dining room is a prime example, where a Turkish Oushak, which is more than 120 years old, springs to life with luscious colors. A French Empire-style chandelier illuminates a furniture mix of several different periods: mahogany Chippendale-style chairs, Regencestyle host chairs and a George II-style mahogany dining table. The stunning wall covering is produced by Zuber, a French company founded in the late 18th century and still today handscreens their signature scenes on paper. A glance through the dining room doorway to the entry reveals deep, slate gray walls mounted with 19th-century prints of a French chateaux located in the Loire Valley.

The study is at the terminating axis of the entry and features a soft, faux finish on walls and trim. Eubanks recalls the stripping of the room to a bare shell during the redecorating process. The fireplace and limestone mantle were additions, adding much charm and character to the room. Once again, the vibrant touches of color throughout the room really pop against the pale palette of the walls. According to Eubanks, the sunny yellow and watermelon tones featured in the Oushak, as well as the rich tones in the painting above the mantle - a fabulous find from an estate sale - really work to make this a very pleasing room. Paisley draperies and an elegant chandelier offer a bit of drama.

Creating even more of a French feel is the addition of columns and archways in the space leading from the kitchen to the charming sitting room. The columns are made of hearts of pine, and offer a fresh and open look. A one-of-a-kind conversation piece in the kitchen is a little French dollhouse that features dramatic details in paint and design so that the house is a miniature French chateau - reflecting the home’s theme. The dollhouse serves as the residence of the homeowner’s cat.

The home provides the perfect space to display all of the personal treasures of a discriminating collector. An upstairs guest bedroom draped in lovely toile fabric is home to several family heirlooms. For instance, the bed belonged to the homeowner’s parents. It is certainly a special room, and Eubanks and Brown unknowingly took the family theme a bit further as they surprised the homeowner by framing photos they had discovered in the house and placed them throughout the room. But what the decorators did not know was that the photos they used to fill the frames were of the homeowner’s mother, father and grandmothers on both sides of her family. “They did this not knowing who the people were in the pictures . . . they were just going through photos and I thought that was so neat that it was pictures of my mom, dad and both grandmothers that they put in the frames.” Also in the charming bedroom is an ornate antique baby cradle that features French lace. All of her grandchildren have spent moments lying in the cradle, but as they have grown up a more fitting place has been the upstairs playroom. The room resembles a toy store - full of toys and treasures, some of which belonged to the homeowner’s daughters when they were children themselves.

The master bedroom is filled with special pieces hailing from her family, as well as, her late husband’s. For instance, the exceptional fourposter bed is an antique that was created by a family member. The bedroom is quite an elegant sanctuary and features rich, dark fabrics in the elegant draperies and bed coverings.

The home is truly a work of art - a masterpiece - where this homeowner can be comfortable entertaining formally and playing with her grandchildren. And, as Eubanks stated, “The home truly reflects this client’s energetic and brilliant personality.”