This Memphis New Build Pays Homage to the Homeowner’s 1970s Childhood

A growing family returns to its Memphis roots in a house decorated with hip yet joyful remembrances of times past.

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Beautiful memories live on—especially when they become the threads that weave through a home. That's what happened in this freshly built traditional house in East Memphis, Tennessee, where interiors explode in floral chintzes, undulating wallpapers, and jewel hues. Each element speaks to current-day design as it also nudges awake fond recollections of the homeowner's past, her beloved growing-up days of the 1970s.

The sentimental decorating approach occurred to Los Angeles-based interior designer and New Trad alum Parrish Chilcoat during her first visit to the Memphis site in January 2020. On the same trip, Chilcoat also visited her client's childhood home. "I saw all the chintzes in her parents' house, and then I looked into her pink-and-mint-green, Marie Antoinette-inspired bedroom—left exactly the same as when she was a little girl. I went, 'Oh my God! No wonder you are so insistent on your pinks and greens! You're re-creating your childhood home, but for the 21st century!'" Chilcoat says with a laugh.

exterior of white, east memphis home
Karyn Millet

Her clients—she's a Memphis native and movie producer; he's a Laguna Beach, California, native, former pro surfer, and sports podcast network creator—are also Chilcoat's friends and have trusted her with their past three houses. The busy parents split time between L.A. and Memphis with their 3-year-old daughter and 6-month-old twins.

For the new Memphis house, the goal was to design, with local architect Charles Shipp, a family-friendly home in the wife's childhood East Memphis neighborhood near her parents and extended family and where their growing children could play with their cousins.

Designer Parrish Chilcoat portrait dining room
Karyn Millet

Chilcoat visited the building site to feel the volume and framing of the 7,500- square-foot house on a visceral level and to ensure an integrated approach with the architect and the builder, Reid Hedgepeth. The team sat down together to decide on millwork, crown molding finishes, and the staircase design. "It was a fast and furious visit," Chilcoat says, that allowed the project to move forward quickly.

peach carpeted stairway in gray foyer
Karyn Millet

Chilcoat returned to L.A. nicely equipped to turn around a full design presentation a month later. The wife said yes to everything, and the husband was, Chilcoat says, "really kind in trusting the process. But, he said, 'It can't all be pink, please.'"

eclectic sitting room with patterns and plants
Karyn Millet

That's where emerald greens and other dark hues came in. "I threaded in deeper colors, including the brown in the great-room sofa and the black in the chintz, to add some masculinity," Chilcoat says. She also wove in the cheetah carpet in the great-room as a neutral. "I told him it will hide every sin of a child," the designer says. "I said, 'I promise you'll barely notice it's there.'"

Throughout the house, Chilcoat deftly evolved the wife's beloved pinks into dustier, more nuanced versions, including the "dirty peach" curtains in the great-room. Her favorite greens deepened into bluish teals and darker greens in varying shades and interpreted in different textures.

dining room blue white chairs, chandelier, gold wallpaper
Karyn Millet

All practicality stepped aside, though, for the home's pièce de résistance, a golden Gracie wallpaper that wraps the dining room in a chinoiserie pattern with hits of electric blue and jade green that set an elevated yet relaxed 1970s chic tone for the entire home.

teal kitchen with gold and green accents
Karyn Millet

For the kitchen, a teal-spiked Inchyra blue runs across cabinetry, the range hood, and backsplash tile. Rose gold gleams from hardware, and brass strapping adds a bit of bling to the hood. Chilcoat insisted on deep tones in the kitchen to balance the color on the other side of the great-room.

teal, pink, and brown master bedroom
Karyn Millet

Similarly, in the primary bedroom, a blue-green grass cloth on walls melds with the same shade on the headboard for a tone-on-tone effect that highlights tropical peach-and-brown Bob Collins chintz draperies that Chilcoat had been saving for just the right client.

Editor's Tip: For a budget-friendly option, choose faux grasscloth wallpaper like this Better Homes & Gardens Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper ($40, Walmart).

designer Parrish Chilcoat

I threaded in deeper colors to add some masculinity

—designer Parrish Chilcoat
cheetah print powder room in deep tones
Karyn Millet

Accessorized with a naïve black-backed floral painting and a fun 1970s shell-shape rattan chair, the room encapsulates the one-of-a kind joie de vivre aesthetic of the whole house and offers a whiff of carefree childhood days of the late '70s—a truly personal paradise for the ages.

Produced by Frances Bailey

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