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A dressy and functional kitchen.

Featured Article

Getting Into Character

when new meets old

Article by Amy Birdsong Golden

Photography by Sarah Bell, Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

Nestled in a historic neighborhood in Memphis stands a beautiful Georgian Revival home. Because the home was built in the mid-‘80s, the owners desired a total refresh with both design and architectural elements for the interiors.

How do you answer the new/old equation? With dimension, says Interior Designer Ragan Magness.

“Dimension is all about balance,” Ragan says. “We needed to re-work some renovations from the ‘90s and beyond without making it look too slick. Adding traditional architectural elements—some old-school charm—gave the space more weight.”

Ragan collaborated on this most recent project with colleague, Greg Baudoin, of his eponymous firm. Charles Shipp was the architect. Their first task was to create a design that met the needs of the homeowners.

“The family of six loves to be together at home as a respite from their busy schedules,” Ragan says. “We didn’t waste a single space. Every room is livable.” 

"When designing each room, we wanted them to be very functional, unique and stylish, but also compatible with having kids and pets around," says the owner.

Previously, the rooms felt disjointed in the home. While the family needed the size and scale of the rooms, the design team wanted to make the spaces feel more inviting and gracious. The home has a cool color palette throughout and is layered with texture, pattern and natural elements.

“The couple has a wonderful personal style. They love history and tradition as much as the unexpected and modern,” Ragan says. “We were able to weave antiques with newer furnishings and collected objects. Their gorgeous art collection makes the rooms sing.”

A bold, indigo-blue Hunt Slonem painting loosens up the formality of the dining room. It sits atop a beautiful, hand-printed Phillip Jeffries mural wallpaper that is feminine and playful, which is a counterpoint to the more masculine furnishings. A round burled wood table was custom designed by American furniture designer, Keith Fritz. Dining chairs, in a Klismos style, surround. The violet-blue velvet upholstery changes with the light. The couple befriended the artist of the glass-blown fluted chandelier and now collects the artist’s work throughout the home. 

It’s hard to get people out of anyone’s kitchen and the couple entertains often. So why not make it feel like a chic French bistro? The team brought in Jacquelyn Cummins from Kitchens Unlimited for the renovation. The custom hood is made of mixed metals. The antiqued mirrors with decorative brass sconces dress up the space. The cloudy blue cabinetry is unexpected and plays off the metallic fan tile and natural stone.

The kitchen opens up to a family room that feels more like a hip salon. A Clifford Bailey painting sits above the piano, which is actually used, not just for décor. The furnishings are beautiful, but still comfortable so the whole family can pile in. “There was a large stone fireplace that made the room so heavy. Adding a limestone fireplace softens the space. And it looks more period to a home built in the 1940s,” Ragan says.

The focal point is above the fireplace—a Miya Ando metal painting that captures an ethereal light. A wooden sculpture by Dan Burgette brings in a natural element. “The way all of these decorative objects respond to one another really helps us achieve that balance,” Ragan adds.

Often a sitting room in a primary bedroom is overlooked and dull. The homeowner’s children range in age from 7 to 17, and they needed space to unwind that wasn’t off-limits. This feels like a stylish lounge in a boutique hotel in London. Painted a chalky, deep blue, the ceiling is covered in a rust, hand-stitched grasscloth. The team draped an entire wall in a netting fabric that hides a TV and brings some drama to the room. An antique chair is updated with a graphic print. A leather and wooden coffee table sits in front of a tufted velvet sofa. A large Ross Bleckner piece takes up the opposite wall. 

"The sitting room is so moody, and is often used to have our morning coffee or a nightcap after dinner, " says the homeowner. "We wanted that art piece to really pop and bring in a burst of color without overpowering the ambiance."

For ease of working at home, there is an escape route from the primary suite to the home office. The design team added wood paneling to warm up the handsome space. A stand-up desk is hidden in a nook along the paneling. A pair of 1940s French chairs are given new life with a rich Jane Churchill green velvet.

Ragan says, “In all of our projects, the main goal is longevity in design. Especially when re-designing an entire home, you must have a common thread, so the spaces feel cohesive. You don’t have to stay in the lines, but it has to flow. Then, you are able to hit a point where everything is timeless.”

  • The color story of the dining room is the common thread throughout the entire home.
  • An enchanting powder room with de Gournay wallpaper and a custom mirror by Garner Framing.
  • "The uniqueness of the art work fills each room with wonderful memories of travels and experiences we shared," says the homeowner.
  • The moody sitting room in the primary suite.
  • The handsome office featuring a David Yarrow photograph.
  • A dressy and functional kitchen.
  • A dressy and functional kitchen.