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Storybook Charm

A Midtown Bungalow

Article by Amy Birdsong Golden

Photography by Ross Group Creative

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

A young professional in her early 30s found a Midtown bungalow built in 1917 to call home. It had been recently renovated and the interiors freshly painted, but it was in need of a character boost. The homeowner enlisted Maggie Clarke Interiors to help integrate the old with some new.

“The homeowner travels to France every year with her family to source beautiful furniture, art and home decor. To say she already had an amazing collection is an understatement,” says Maggie, design principal at MCI.

“The special things in her home have already had a long life of their own. It was so exciting to bring them to a new space. With a lot of antiques to incorporate, we focused on contemporary light fixtures, streamlined upholstery silhouettes and modern art for juxtaposition,” she adds.

Maggie and design associates Amanda Montgomery and Hannah Phillips readied their wands to infuse the home with color, pattern and texture. But first, the entry needed to wind back the clock with a few architectural details.

“The historic home had a fireplace, not original to the home, with no mantel or surround. We used our go-to trim carpentry team, Midtown Remodel and Repair, to create a custom fireplace mantel resembling the same woodwork throughout the house. We then sourced a small-scale square black tile for the surround that is true to the era of the home,” says Maggie.

An antique mirror from France hangs over the fireplace and an authentic Japanese collar is hung over a console table that holds more of the homeowner’s decorative arts collection.  A marble pedestal table from CB2 creates a landing place in the open entry.

The dining room has several found, antique treasures that shape the space including the dining table and buffet. The team added modern chairs from Coley Home that call for lingering dinner guests. The metallic gold wallpaper from Schumacher has flowering branches that reflect the natural light. A large black and white portrait of Elvis that sits between two sconces above a bar cart is one of the homeowner’s favorite elements.

“I was surprised and delighted that the MCI team incorporated the Elvis piece into my dining room. The photo adds interest, playfulness and a bit of funk to what can stereotypically be a formal space,” says the homeowner.

Upstairs in the primary suite, the grandeur is played up in a color story with a distinct balance between masculine and feminine lines. Walls are covered in grasscloth from Schumacher, and the trim is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Woodland Green.

A moody landscape from artist Chelsea Fly acts as a headboard hung on picture rail molding. The bedstands are from Modern History, a contemporary English furniture line that is reminiscent of generations past. The ceramic and brass accent lamps from Visual Comfort add depth to the space. The chaise lounge barely made it to the scene.

“I embrace any quirks of a house. In this case it was a workaround. We had to shave the legs of the chaise lounge down to move it up the narrow steps to the bedroom of the early 1900s home,” Maggie says. “But we made it work.”

The living room is the only living space downstairs and functions more like an 'everything’ room for watching TV, lounging with morning coffee or cocktails with guests. Maggie chose smart textiles and custom elements where they would be the most impactful.

“When she moved in, the homeowner had the walls painted a shade of white. We wanted to add a big punch of color through furniture, art and accessories,” says Maggie. “A furniture plan was necessary - along with layers of pretty and function,” she adds.

It’s hard to watch TV comfortably on a vintage sofa, so the team brought in new upholstery pieces. Two aubergine, striped upholstered ottomans act as flexible seating. The aubergine color is carried throughout the space by adding welting on the bespoke cornice boards made by Elkins Custom Furniture and welting on the custom chartreuse sofa pillows. The team sourced a vintage burled wood end table from the 70s. The living room spills into the entry, so the team extended the Peter Dunham window treatments to both spaces.

For continuity, the design team changed most of the overhead light fixtures to contemporary Visual Comfort fixtures. “We also added two wall sconces in the entry and living room. Anytime we have an opportunity to add light sources on different eye levels, we take it,” says Maggie.

"As a native Memphian, I am so happy to be back home," says the homeowner. "Maggie and her team have brought it all to life." 

A favorite art piece in her living room from Frances Berry says “Memphis. The only place that coulda made me.” A storybook beginning for this homeowner and her Midtown bungalow.

"As a native Memphian, I am so happy to be back home."

"To say she already had an amazing collection is an understatement."

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