Interiorssneak peeks

A Home In Memphis, TN Filled With Vintage Aesthetic and Charm

by Erin Austen Abbott

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

When Anna and Ben Avant decided to sell their East Memphis, TN home and move to the Midtown area of Memphis, finding the right place came with some challenges. They sold their house faster than finding a new one, so they had to move into a rental while Anna was about to give birth to their daughter, Louis. One day, while driving to work, Ben saw the “for sale” sign going into the yard of a 1938 Tudor. The couple planned to see it that day and as soon as they walked inside, they knew they had found the home for them. It was filled with vintage wallpaper throughout the home, had many of the original fixtures, vintage tubs and sinks, and all the charm they dreamed of. They made an offer right away and moved in shortly after that. “Besides needing more room and wanting a bigger yard, I envisioned a house untouched — I wanted vintage tile bathrooms and vintage metal kitchen cabinets,” Anna shares. “It was proving to be very difficult to find a house with the intact vintage character I wanted. This house has it all — we have five bedrooms [and] three full baths. The guest bed and bath are downstairs, so our guests have their privacy. And the master and kids’ rooms are all upstairs, which is also very difficult to find, and I love that our family is all together upstairs.”

Anna works from home running her online vintage clothing shop, Hoot + Louise, and Ben is a lighting designer. A turnkey home was also important to the Avants, with their busy schedules and two small children, so changing the lighting was pretty much the only thing they did. “We kept a few original fixtures downstairs — dining room chandelier, kitchen glass ball pendant, hall light at the bottom of the stairs, and the fish/shell brass sconces in the guest bathroom — they’re to die for. All the other lighting we changed.” The entryway’s light is a vintage fixture they got from a Francis Gassner designed house in East Memphis. All other lighting is Louis Poulsen.

“I am definitely most thankful that our home is mostly untouched,” Anna shares. “It still blows me away that we found this house. In every single room there is a special detail, and I am so thankful that the previous owners left it this way.” I love seeing how wallpaper can work so well in a home and the mix of patterns, from one room to the next. Enjoy! —Erin

Photography by Reid Mitchell

Image above: Looking from the breakfast nook through the dining room, you can see out to the front porch. The chandelier is original to the home. You can see into the living room from the dining room, too. 

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The wallpaper is original to the house. We got our vintage mid-century modern Cherry wood dining table and six chairs from an estate sale. Ben recovered the chairs himself (with tips from my Grandmother Hoot) with fabric from Pallas Textiles in Surface Mist,” Anna shares.

Anna Avant on Design*Sponge
Anna, wrapped in natural light, enjoying the morning in her dining room.
Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

A close-up of the wallpaper, original to their home

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The large mid-century modern cabinet was found at Sheffield’s Antiques in Collierville, TN. It is two pieces that fit together. We retro-fitted it to fit our TV, which can be closed off and hidden. I love that all the cable wires are hidden, too. The globes on top came out of an old school in Mississippi. The red lamp is a mini Verner Panton Panthella by Louis Poulsen. The silhouette painting is of Finch at three months old and is by Laura Roebuck. The two chairs are both vintage as well as the 80s mirrored coffee table. The coffee table came from Found on Broad Ave. The chairs were estate sale finds. The Dolly pillow is made by Curator San Francisco and was a best seller at Hoot + Louise.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

Anna shares, “I love the arched doorways in here. The wallpaper in the foyer [to the left] is by Cole & Son for The Fornasetti Collection by Piero Fornasetti. The sofa is down filled and covered in linen from Pottery Barn.”

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The ‘E’ Elvis painting is painted on a piece of a refrigerator by local artist Allison Furr-Lawyer. The vintage bar was given to me by my parents. I love leaving it open to showcase the beautiful details inside. The lamp is a Verner Panton Panthella Table Lamp by Louis Poulsen. I commissioned an architect friend Jack Duncan to make the custom Birch wood chair — it is solid, it is way heavier than it looks.”

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The study showcases my Granddaddy’s desk [from] outside of Greenwood, MS — a very rare antique, one of a kind. The 1940s Toledo Metal drafting stool was his as well and was made by The Toledo Metal Furniture Company. I remember him working at this desk and chair when I was a little girl at my grandparents’ shop in Greenwood. My parents passed the desk down to me when we bought this house. It is one of the most special pieces I have, and I have so many memories from my childhood. There is an Elvis theme in my house. I love him. The cardboard standup came from Graceland of course! The irony here is that my Granddaddy didn’t like Elvis,” Anna laughs.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The wallpaper is from 1976, and was installed when the kitchen was remodeled the same year. The oak table was given to my parents, by my Granddaddy when they first married. The chairs are Eames. The pendant is the Louis Poulsen PH5,” shared Anna.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The 1978 Dixon Gardens poster in the breakfast room was found in an old antique store downtown. It had closed and had sat full of stuff for many years. The owner had sold the building, and a friend and I got to go dig around in there, and I found this poster,” Anna shares.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The kitchen was remodeled in 1976. It is a full custom St. Charles Kitchen with their famous metal cabinets, hidden pull-out table and cutting board. The plaid wallpaper is from the same time period.”

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The turquoise and yellow vintage bathroom is my favorite! I love the colors and the charm. The shell and fish brass sconces are original, as well as the bathtub, sink, and toilet. The wallpaper is by Cole & Son for The Fornasetti Collection II by Piero Fornasetti. The pattern is Acquario in Deep Sea Blue,” Anna notes.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

The map hanging over the guest bed is also from the old school in Mississippi.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“This is the pantry door which has the most fitting pennant given to me by a friend, ‘Eat More Tacos’,” Anna laughs.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“I love sitting and hanging out in my bedroom. I keep all my fashion books in there on the radiator so I can grab one and sit and look at the fashion spreads from all the most fabulous designers and decades. I think every fashion book was a gift. The rattan sofa is vintage and was thrifted — the cushions are red denim, faded and fabulous, in my opinion. The art above the mantel is an original by local artist Beth Winterburn. The Elvis on the mantel is a vintage liquor bottle given to me by a friend, ” Anna shares.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The painting above the bed is an original by Memphis artist Frances Berry. The round pillow was one of the last things my Granny made me before she retired as a seamstress and upholsterer.”

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The man on the moon painting was a commissioned piece by Memphis artist Lamar Sorento. The Scorpio carved plaque was whittled and given to me by my Granddaddy for my first birthday — he wrote on the back ‘To Anna From Granddaddy Happy One.’ When I was pregnant with Finch I knew he was going to be a Scorpio like me, so it was the first thing I hung in his room. The light-up vintage globe was a baby gift from a friend. The tiny metal globe was my Daddy’s (his Papa’s) piggy bank when he was a little boy.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“The plaid wallpaper is old, I’m guessing from the 60s or 70s. This room could be another bedroom, but we use it as a den as part of our master suite. Well, I should probably just call it a play room/music room. My husband collects guitars and we keep a lot of them in this room. The painting is another commissioned by Lamar Sorento. The vintage green trunk has amazing storage with tiny shelves and compartments – it was made by my grandparents in either the 50s or 60s and was used for tailgating Ole Miss football games. We use it to store art supplies,” Anna says.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge

“This is Louis’ room. Her iron bed is vintage and was passed down to me from my aunt. The pendant is a Louis Poulsen PH5 in Rose/Green. The print of the headdresses above her bed is by Kate Roebuck. The drapes are from West Elm, and the bedding is from H&M Home.

Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge
"The favorite thing about my home is this pull-out desk. Finch can sit here and do his homework, help with cooking, or draw."
Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge
The floor plan of the first floor of the Avant home, in Memphis.
Anna and Ben Avant on Design*Sponge
The floor plan of the second floor of the Avant home, in Memphis.

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  • Wow, what character and how beautifully curated. Everything seems to have a special meaning. Lovely!

  • i lived in memphis for 4 years in the 90s and i love the midtown area. it’s a great city. I love this house! wish we could see the outside as well. :)

  • This is the third time I’ve looked at this post today. I just love this house so much! I love that they kept the wallpaper and the kitchen! It has so much character and it’s so warm and inviting.

  • So glad to see a young family embracing the character of a vintage home. It is time to realize that every house does not have to have the kitchen ripped out, the bathroom covered in the current ’tile of the day’ and the removal of interior walls so you can see the kitchen from every room. Hope you all have a happy life there.

  • I, too am glad to see that someone enjoys the vintage decor. I’m especially impressed by the kitchen. It brings back memories of the days of metal kitchen cabinets. I love your home. You’ve done a great job! I like Elvis ,too!

  • This is absolutely beautiful. The colors and the natural light. The decor is breathtaking. I can Read this over and over. Thanks for sharing.