Some say home is not a place, but a feeling. For a young family in Germantown, an idyllic Memphis suburb, no place felt more like home than the leafy neighborhood they called their own—even if the four walls around them weren’t quite right. After scouring the market for months in search of a new residence but never finding an ideal match, the couple purchased a nearly 2-acre lot nearby—then set about creating their dream home from scratch. Retaining Lori Paranjape, a designer they already admired for her space-planning expertise, was key to creating a home that would not only reflect their personal tastes but also fit them perfectly.
“They have a large family, and wanted generous rooms and spaces, but it was very important to them that their home not feel ostentatious,” the designer notes. “They wanted the home to rise up to meet them in their daily lives, which are really quite casual.” Signing on from the project’s inception meant Paranjape could focus on the foundational aspects of the home—like locating the central staircase away from the front door—all the way to the decorative layer. “We had an opportunity to create continuity,” she explains. “Each room has its own character and highlights, but they all feel cohesive. We were able to accomplish that because we got to help mold the DNA of the project.”
Defined by white brick with crisp black accents, the envelope of the architecture is stately, yet simple. “It’s not overly detailed, but we have details in the right spots,” explains architect David Anderson, who worked with general contractor Palmer Albertine to establish sight lines from the front door all the way to the rear of the property, visible through floor-to-ceiling windows. Rather than build up every inch of the estate, the team opted to embrace negative space, with landscape designer Marley Fields even specifying a 40-yard span of Palisades Zoysia grass between the main structure and pool house that created plentiful square footage for the couple’s four children to play. As a result, the standalone escape became the true destination the husband had requested, complete with every amenity his family needed—a living room, dining area, full bathroom, kitchen and game area—for quality time or entertaining.
“The pool house is at a distance, so it’s kind of a commitment to venture out there—and that was by design,” Paranjape explains. Dialing up lap siding details from the main residence for the latter’s façade made the two buildings cohesive, but not overly so. “They’re nice companions for each other,” notes the designer, who suggested porthole windows to punctuate Anderson’s arrangements. Beyond the bifold doors, the 24-foot vaulted ceiling ensures interiors flooded with light. Here, Paranjape took the notion of relaxation one note further, reaching for a coastal-inspired palette of pale blues and sun-washed neutrals, along with weather- resistant materials and open-weave textures easily penetrated by sunlight or cooling breezes.
Back in the main house, her finishing touches played to a backdrop of matte-finished oak floors, warm metals and cedar ceiling beams, which collectively soften any suggestion of formality. Using texture to weave rooms together visually, she assembled a fresh collection of furnishings, rugs and art—a fringed fiber piece by Dallas artist Lauren Williams above the family room sofa, for example—that put a premium on everyday comfort. To temper Anderson’s luminous architecture, she then leveraged contrast to create moments of design tension. Black grass cloth, for example, clads a portion of the gallery running the length of the house, while deep navy richens the husband’s home office and ebony cerused oak pairs with leathered black galaxy granite for the genteel bar.
Granted the flexibility to make creative choices, the design team delivered little luxuries at every turn—though some of these are in areas guests may never see. Namely, Anderson and Paranjape were in enthusiastic alignment about including the modern scullery (separated from the showstopping main kitchen by a pair of 19th-century white oak doors), as well as a suite of utilitarian “back of house” spaces to support daily activities and simplify traffic flow. Throughout the project, when occasions called for course-correction—as when the owners requested to enlarge the back porch after the slab was poured—nimble project management by Albertine and team allowed “the many details to come together with reasonable solutions,” Anderson affirms. “Palmer could look ahead to see areas that needed clarification, and that makes for a great collaboration.”
In the end, perhaps the highest praise comes from the family fortunate to live within a home that redefines their very concept of what that could be—while exceeding their every expectation. Sums the husband: “It’s everything we wanted, exactly as we wanted.”