There is a penchant these days for all things Country French. In the design of houses, it's manifest in an asymmetrical layout with an extremely high-pitched roof and a lot of stonework. A graveled courtyard is usually thrown in for good measure. These details derive from the grand 16th-century chateaus, especially the ones that line the Loire Valley.
This house was built in 1939 for a newly married couple. The bride was a native of New Orleans and, therefore, fond of all things French. She loved the village of Versailles just outside of Paris, and so this house was based on the style of that area.
The front is quite symmetrical, the roof pitch is rather low, and neither stone nor gravel is in sight. This is more astonishing when you realize that the first floor mimics a stone facade. The door surround, lintels over the windows, and quoining at the corners are all typical of French stone detailing.
Memphis being a hardwood center, with not a quarry in sight, the builders copied all these details faithfully in wood. After all, George Washington did the same at Mount Vernon. George even enhanced the effect by adding coarse sand to the paint to give more texture to those Virginia pine boards.
The current occupant has only been in residence for the past four years, but the long list of accomplishments suggests it has been a busy time filled with renovations. The house was repainted top to bottom, in and out, in a pale, neutral palette. That required a lot of wood replacement and new gutters. At the same time, new plantation shutters were added inside the house. Bathroom tiles were replaced in an equally off-white scheme, and the master bath was gutted and rebuilt from scratch. A new laundry closet off the kitchen was added at the same time. All of the wood floors were refinished, and electrical, security, and mechanical systems were enlarged and updated.
This renovation allowed the original plan to shine anew. The brick-floored center hall opens to a big living room. This room focuses on a fireplace surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookcases. The formal dining room opens to a large, renovated kitchen with an adjoining cathedral-ceilinged keeping room. A brick-floored sun room overlooks the deep rear yard. There is a downstairs master suite, and upstairs are two large bedrooms with a shared bath and a separate cedar closet. A two-car garage has an attached shop, and there's additional tool storage as well.
A detached guest house out back has also been redone top to bottom. It would be a great home office or studio space as well. A wood-framed greenhouse with a brick floor has been converted into a dining pavilion with grill, sink, and potting areas.
The grounds were not overlooked. Trees were thinned and removed. A formal woodland garden was created in front where dense planting obscures the street. A new drive and guest parking were installed. The owner's collection of Japanese maples was carefully sited around the property. A formal yard was laid out in the rear and surrounded by broad beds filled with an extensive selection of shrubs and perennials. Irrigation and exterior lighting maintain the plantings and highlight them in the evenings. The plantings around the perimeter of the property are so mature that you'd hardly know this wonderful house was there and certainly not have witnessed all the work that has recently gone on. Now is your chance to enjoy this delightful French confection.
Mary Frances Pitts, 312-2942