When Cassie Mayatte turned 40, her husband, Chris, gave her something that couldn’t exactly be gift-wrapped: a block of land in Collierville, Tennessee. “We’d been dreaming of this neighborhood for years, driving through it often, but we never thought we would live here,” Cassie says of the historic Memphis suburb. “But once we found an open lot available with the lake in the backyard, we just fell in love and had to have it.”
The close-knit couple, who runs a business together, wished for views of the lake more than anything—no easy feat given the positioning of the lot. Fortunately, architect Brad Shapiro loves a challenge. By employing a linear layout parallel to the water’s edge, he managed to maximize lake views from the bedrooms, family room, kitchen, playroom and outdoor living areas.
“We never dreamed of it the way he drew it, but he just nailed it,” says Cassie, adding that Shapiro took the time to understand their habits and lifestyle to devise a home that would fit them and their two young daughters perfectly. Shapiro’s solution: a mostly glass, modern residence that wouldn’t look out of place among the neighborhood’s more traditional vernacular—while also amplifying natural light.
“We solved this with traditional forms and window shapes along the public view of the house,” explains Shapiro, who worked with residential designer Scott Baker and general contractor Hank Hill to realize an open, airy floor plan with ultra-high ceilings. “On the private portion of the house—the lake side—it really does become a transparent, almost all glass house,” Shapiro says. The architect and his clients both credit Hill’s unerring perfectionism for the project’s success: everything from the glass-encased breezeway to the precise position of the gas lanterns out front. “Hank is the definition of a best-in-class craftsman,” Shapiro reveals.
Perhaps nowhere are these achievements more keenly felt than in the entryway, where a grand staircase gracefully swoops down to the white-oak floors. It’s a curving component the couple’s designer, Leslie Murphy, was instrumental in designing and positioning in concert with Shapiro. “That was a unique and special moment for me,” says Murphy, who also ensured visitors would catch a glimpse of the custom black-and-white mural by artist Frances Berry Moreno decorating the barrel-vaulted ceiling in the daughters’ playroom high above.
Despite the grandeur of the residence, “the Mayattes didn’t want it to be a fussy, museum-like place,” Murphy explains. “Cassie wanted luxurious, yet simple and family friendly; striking that balance was super important.” Working with project manager Caroline Lovelace, Murphy curated an aesthetic she describes as “redefined Southern luxury.” Employing materials such as metal, concrete and acrylic brought glamour to the home’s light, bright floor plan. Adds Murphy: “Cassie was drawn to those little pops of sparkle and the shine—so it was about how to integrate all of those pieces and still make it functional.”
Like Shapiro, Murphy took the time to get to know her clients so that the home would harmonize with the way they live. “They wanted intentionality around each space. They’re truly so committed to one another and their happy place is at home together,” she explains. Thus, the Mayattes enjoy rooms specifically dedicated to daily activities—living, working, playing, creating, exercising, relaxing, watching movies—meaning they almost never feel the need to leave.
Landscape designer Marley Fields’ approach to the grounds successfully fused the home’s modern interior and traditional exterior elements. “My vision was to keep the hardscapes and plant selections simple yet refined, to complement the architecture rather than compete,” she notes. By planting en masse with varied textures of green, plus blooms in a limited palette of white, soft pink and purple, she achieved a calming and confident scheme that enhances another must-have for the Mayattes: their outdoor space overlooking the lake.
“Memphis summers can be very stagnant, but here, because there’s a breeze off the water, we spend most of our waking hours outside in the summertime, just enjoying nature and our family.” Chris says. “We’re not exaggerating when we say virtually every area of the home is amazing in our minds. We were able to do it just the way we wanted, and it turned out even better than we hoped.”