Regency Redux

Culture & Leisure, Holiday Edition 2007 2007

Written by James Roper
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Interior designer William R. Eubanks proves once again that period elegance and comfort are not incompatible.

It was no surprise when the young couple who own this now stately home approached decorator William Eubanks to help them with its design. Eubanks, who has offices in Memphis, Palm Beach and New York City, met the couple years ago when he had a showroom near the Central Gardens neighborhood of Memphis. They soon became great friends. The couple was familiar with his work and admired it, so when the time came to renovate their home in the Germantown area, it was Eubanks who received the call.

The house was built in the early 1990s in English Georgian style. The decorator thought it appropriate that later design enhancements should be in the form of the complementary Regency style - the early 19th century architecture and interior design period that followed Georgian.

In a project that took approximately two years to complete, Eubanks added period details such as architectural moldings, wall coverings, fabrics and furnishings that reflected this look. Much of the work, such as the window treatments, was created in the designer’s own workroom.

“I designed it for this couple’s needs, their likes and their lifestyle,” Eubanks says, explaining that the pair also has a home on a lake nearby, but this house is where they do their formal entertaining. “It might be a formal dinner party for up to a dozen guests, or a cocktail party for 150,” he says.

There were also some practical matters to consider.

“They have two young children, so they also wanted their home to be serviceable for a live-in family,” Eubanks explains. “The house and its furnishings could not be so precious they could not withstand the wear-and-tear of growing children.” But thanks to new technology, even some sumptuous-looking fabrics also can be durable, the designer adds.

And while at first glance some observers might see Eubanks’ work as strictly traditional, a closer look reveals some subtle surprises. In the dining room, for instance, the draperies are in a Regency style fabric, yet they are loose and flowing, creating a slight “puddle” on the floor. “The treatment helps to give a vertical lift to the space,” the designer explains. The custom woven, taupe wool Turkish carpet, with its striped pattern, has an almost contemporary look. “The rug also brings more energy to the room,” the designer says.

Flanking the dining room entry are more unexpected elements for a period-perfect room. A pair of biscuit-colored terra cotta urns on pedestals, undoubtedly intended for a garden, date from 19th century France. Here they add drama, bring the outdoors inside, and are a clever reminder of the Southern love of gardens and the outdoors.

“When people walk into their home, we want it to be reflective of them, not us,” Eubanks says, summing up his firm’s philosophy. In this case, the homeowners can look around their elegant home - made distinctive with Regency style - and know that it also meets the needs of their active family.