Readers may well recognize this distinguished home as one of the lovely old estates lining Walnut Grove just east of Goodlett. The current owners bought this two-and-a-half-acre property with its pool, tennis court, and guest house in 2013.
The interior needed some refreshing and personalizing, and it was decided to start the process with the downstairs living room, dining room, sunroom/reading room, and study. Luckily for them, the homeowners were pointed in the direction of talented local designer Leslie Cetingok by their good friend, Julia O’Keefe, whose historic home was featured in the pages of this magazine several years ago.
Cetingok was hired, and it was the beginning of a wonderful relationship and a true meeting of the minds between client and interior designer which has resulted in the beautiful rooms on these pages.
Cetingok is the owner and creative director of Designart, a company specializing in interiors and art. She provides design services ranging from new construction materials specification to furniture and art acquisition. A native of Huntsville, Alabama, she worked for Columbia University in New York City, and while there met her husband, Alper, who is from Memphis. Mindful that her Turkish married name might be a bit daunting for some, Cetingok told me she decided to call her company simply Designart. She is a woman of many talents, and it so happens she is having a showing of her own artworks at Palladio on April 14th. You may want to mark that date on your calendars.
Cetingok’s modern, minimalist style is distinguished by clean palettes, simple lines, openness, and always “a bit of luxe.” On the other hand, the lady of the house is originally from Louisiana, and her great taste tended towards traditional classic furnishings and decor characteristic of her hometown. As a result there was a bit of yin-yang going on at first, which in decorating terms can be described as the traditional versus the transitional look.
As an example, Cetingok likes “negative space,” which is the open area around objects in a room, a look that initially to her client’s mind felt a bit “sparse.” But as you see, it all came together splendidly with Cetingok achieving a perfect blending of a minimalist aesthetic with family antiques and more classical tastes.
And as an added bonus, over the many months of working together on the home’s interior, client and designer had great (and productive!) fun while shopping together throughout the South. For example Leslie had to try her best to keep their mission “on task” as they pounded the steamy pavements of one city's antique district. “We found some exceptional items for the project and had a ball to boot,” says Cetingok
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With its black and white marble floor, circular staircase, rock crystal chandelier, and marble-topped table, this is the perfect classic entry for this great home
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A delightful detail of the sunroom/reading room as a sunbeam hits the upholstered satin wall
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This luminous living room is the perfect example of Cetingok's luxe style with its soothing neutral color palette, exquisite fabrics, and overall sparkle.
Cetingok also says that when she was on her own shopping for pieces at the best prices, she and her client would be phoning back and forth, reminiscent of the nail-biting auction house bidding between auctioneers and absentee buyers. Cetingok also researched and bought wonderful furnishings and accessories on 1stdibs.com, a website which bills itself as a place to find “some of the most beautiful things on earth.” Believe me, it is; check it out and you will be amazed!
Cetingok’s vision for the home entailed updating the interior walls by using more current and neutral colors — soothing, creamy whites and grays, such as Benjamin Moore’s Classic Grey and Stonington Grey, as well as soft blues. The result is a calming, serene environment especially when contrasted with the original downstairs yellow walls. Also you see in these beautiful rooms pairs of matching tables, mirrors, stools, and chairs, which taken together create an overall stunning effect of symmetry, balance and harmony.
Cetingok saw the need to create more sources of lighting in the house, including the use of beautiful chandeliers. The word that kept coming to my mind to describe the finished look that has been achieved is “luminous.” Mirrors, mirrored surfaces, metallic, and gilt finishes add to the rooms’ sparkle as do the use of light, champagne-colored woods. The overall effect is dazzling and amounts to what Cetingok calls the home’s “icing,” achieved by lighting, paint, and interior styling.
As we photographed the beautiful downstairs rooms, I was in awe of the exquisite fabrics that Cetingok had chosen for new upholstery and pillows to give texture to the surroundings. One accent wall in the sunroom/reading room is even upholstered in satin which provides a subtle sheen and sophistication. As you might imagine the homeowners were a bit hesitant to embrace this somewhat “daring” decorative idea, but now the couple really enjoys relaxing in this room, which also features two fabulous grey couches and French doors opening to the outside.
The piano in the living room was purchased from the previous owners of the house and gives a nice bit of continuity and history to the home. It is in fact one of the few dark pieces in the otherwise light living room aside from the pop of black in the painting over the fireplace. This living room with its pale and peaceful color palette and the light streaming in reminds the homeowners in some respects of a beach — always their happy place.
The lady of the house has moved a number of times in her life and declares this is definitely her last home. For one thing, she is a realtor and knows a beautiful place when she sees one. Based on the wondrous interiors that have already been created with Cetingok’s help, as well as plans for future enhancement, I think we can take her at her word. The home is “a little boy’s dream,” and you can imagine how much the family’s young sons love this property. They have a basketball hoop in the front driveway and a special little retreat out back which they call their fort.
Happy children, happy mother and father — it looks like this family is here to stay!