This New Memphis Home Channels Decades of Style

A menagerie of old treasures finds new life with a collecting-minded couple in their just-built home.

bold living room

Haris Kenjar

Who’s the guy in the portrait? Is that your grandfather? 

Judy and Mickey McLellan get the questions almost every time someone enters their Memphis home. “We don’t know who he is,” Mickey says, bursting into a fit of conspiratorial giggles seemingly synchronized with wife Judy’s. “We just like the looks of him.” 

The white-wigged chap holding court in the hall, the bearded fellow reigning over the living room mantel—their names are unknown, their deeds lost to the ages. But make no mistake, these gents are part of the family, adopted as McLellan kin after years sharing life at home. 

wood desk

Haris Kenjar

“We have so many collected pieces, things we ran into in our 40 years of prowling antique stores in Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, wherever we travel,” Mickey says. “They’re just found things that probably wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. But they hold a lot of memories for us.” 

home exterior

Haris Kenjar

When Mickey and Judy prepared to downsize from their longtime home, however, they wondered: Can their old friends feel truly comfortable in a new house that melds traditional and contemporary? 

Judy knew the person to ask: Memphis designer Sean Anderson, whom she had met through one of her luxury real estate clients and who had decorated the home, built as a showhouse, that the McLellans were going to buy. 

The new Memphis home is built around a courtyard, providing pool views from nearly every room. “It’s really restful,” Judy says. “Our home is such a blessing and a joy for us.” 

white kitchen island

Haris Kenjar

“I could see he likes the same look we do,” Judy says. “I asked him, ‘Will our things work in a sleeker, more modern house?’ He said definitely yes. It was breathtaking to see how he took all our collected pieces and gave them a new look, a new lease on life.” 

A clean-lined cooking space puts functionality first while vintage-inspired pendants keep things cohesive with the rest of the house.

bold living room

Haris Kenjar

For Anderson, designing a house twice was a new, and intriguing, experience. “It turned out to be a fusion of the showhouse design with their collection of great antique pieces. It feels current while keeping the classic elements they’re drawn to.” 

In the living room, a contemporary linen sofa and colorblock draperies play antithesis to the McLellans’ vintage armchairs and coffee table. A long-loved wing chair kept its leather seat while its back slipped into modernity with fresh charcoal hue mohair upholstery. An antique rug they’ve had for years unfurls pattern and color in the neutral space. “I love the juxtaposition of opposites in texture, tonality, and color,” Anderson says. “Fabrics and textures bring in such warmth.” 

living room wood brown

Haris Kenjar

Anderson individually framed a collection of cattle tags he found at a market in Georgia to hang around the doorway to the kitchen and breakfast area. “I love the sheer mass of it,” he says. An antique armoire contrasts contemporary stools. Doorway millwork and mullioned windows set a timeless tone for the mix of eras and styles seen in furnishings and collected pieces.

wood dining room

Haris Kenjar

In the dining room, the couple’s existing table now pairs with contemporary chairs and large-scale lighting. A black metal wall sculpture that Anderson designed for the showhouse serves as a surprising backdrop for an old oil painting. Pine doors provide earthy counterpoint to chic dining chairs while a muscular brass arm positions a patinaed oil painting against the modern metal sculpture. 

“Judy and Mickey embraced a more abstract way of doing things, a new way of looking at classicism,” Anderson says. “Playing with scale, as I did with the dining room fixture, and mixing contemporary with traditional elements elevates a space and at the same time makes it more playful.” 

Other old pieces found new life just by moving to different spaces. “They had such great antiques,” Anderson says. “But they came into the project saying, ‘Here’s everything for the living room, here’s everything for the dining room.’ I wanted to disrupt that by using pieces in different rooms and in different ways. New surroundings give a sense of new life to old pieces."

“It’s my job to give clients a new set of eyes,” the designer says. “If you’ve lived with something for decades, you might fall out of love with it—or not even really see it anymore. In a new environment, they find new love for those old things.” 

Artwork and a new brass lamp bring a genteel air to the bar nook. 

white wood paneled wall

Haris Kenjar

The portrait that hangs in the hall, for example, was on the verge of being ushered out. “Sean said, ‘Don’t sell it!’” Mickey says. “Now it feels new over an English chest.” 

Shiplap siding creates a calm canvas for pieces that Mickey and Judy have collected through the years.

warm wood vanity

Haris Kenjar

In the guest room, Anderson reinvented a vintage laundry rack as a desk. A pine table the couple have owned for decades resides with an antique grandmother clock in their home office. Reframed vintage magazine pages take up residence in the sleek bar. 

gray wood bedroom

Haris Kenjar

In the primary bedroom, a vintage bed melds venerable character with a modern pared-down look. The canopy fabric is gone, and the carved beauty now shares space with a fresh wing chair. Soft white Roman shades play against the deep wood tones of a found chest and armoire. Without a fabric canopy, the carved details of a claw-foot bed shine.

“I was fortunate to work with clients who had such wonderful pieces. I was spoiled with riches,” Anderson says. “By incorporating their antiques and vintage finds into the house, they were able to move in and immediately see themselves wholly reflected here.” 

Linen draperies and Roman shades wrap the McLellans’ home workspace in warmth. Anderson had some of the couple’s art reframed to make it feel fresh. On the landing, Georgian antiques mingle with found items, giving the home an eclectic, personal look.

sitting room wood

Haris Kenjar

“Sean always says that a home should tell the story of the people who live there,” Judy says. “This house is filled with things we love. It’s filled with our memories of 40 years together. It tells our story beautifully.”

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