Cool Oasis

A home boldly different from its neighbors is tucked away in Central Gardens.



Modern artwork brightens the home's great room.

photography by Andrea Zucker

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Dr. Chris Cooley’s contemporary home sits nestled on a leafy side street in Central Gardens. Having long admired this unique property from afar, Cooley jumped at the chance to buy it from Howard Adcock and Randy Rhodes in the summer of 2005. Since then, home and owner have clearly been living happily ever after.

The house is one of the newer residences in the neighborhood, having been built in 1982 by well-known Memphis designer Jimmy Beck as his personal residence, on vacant land purchased from Dr. Sam Patterson, who then owned nearby “Beverly Hall,” the subject of our Memphis magazine cover story last May.

Not surprisingly, the post-modern Cooley house is an anomaly in this historic area of early twentieth-century homes. For a professional take on the home’s features, I defer to my friend, architect John Tackett, who has been quoted as saying that “while the stucco cubist-style home has an austere, windowless façade largely hidden from the street by the landscaping, the severity ends immediately on entering the stylish and sophisticated interior.”

The entry leads to a light-filled, high-ceilinged, open great room that is divided into living and dining areas and overlooks a stunning walled courtyard with pool and outdoor pavilion. Walls of glass bring the outside in. The master bedroom is on the ground floor, and upstairs has a guest suite and office. Cooley says the home is only 2,100 square feet although it seems significantly larger. And there’s no question that it is a secluded and private oasis in the midst of the city.

Cooley tells me he had previously lived in houses decorated with mostly English antiques, but he realized this new place required something boldly different — a cleaner, minimalist and more eclectic approach. As a result, with the guidance of Greg Baudoin of Ray and Baudoin Interior Design and Steven Hickman of Jimmy Graham Interior Design, he started over and bought furnishings especially for his new abode, including many wonderful pieces purchased from former Memphis retailer John Simmons, who at the time was moving to Mexico. 

This windowless facade conceals a colorful and comfortable interior.

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