I’ve been back in Toronto for a while now, but I still had to share the photos and impressions I got from visiting Graceland. Yes – Memphis Tennessee, home of Elvis Presley Graceland. I’m not going to discuss his music, his legend, or his death. I just want to talk about his house and specifically the interior design. Graceland is like a 1970s fever dream of shag carpet, monkey statues and indoor waterfalls. I loved it.
Elvis (along with his girlfriends and family) really went for it in home decor. They had money to spend and they spent it. Ridiculously. But even with the white carpets and mirrored walls there is a coziness to Graceland. There’s hospitality in Graceland, and there is definitely fun in Graceland. You can imagine a little Lisa Marie running down the stairs to the basement rec room, or out to the stables to ride her pony. It’s a slice of perfectly preserved American dream circa 1977. If you are interested in vintage decor or kitsch and you find yourself in Tennessee you need to visit.
Let’s take a look!
The exterior. Very symmetrical and pleasant. Looks like a dollhouse. Note the smaller size of the home. It’s a mansion, sure, but not a monster home like so many nowadays. There is a charming scale to the interior you might not expect.
The first room to the right of the front door is the living room (also pictured at the top of this post with those amazing peacock windows). This couch was something like twelve feet long. White shag carpet, white couch, white TV. This wasn’t the place you plopped down with a glass of red wine. This was fancy guest space. Of all the rooms I saw in Graceland this was the most dramatic and feminine. It was completely impractical and I liked it.
There were a lot of “antiqued” mirrors in Graceland, like the dining room table surface. Patterned mirrors are actually making a comeback. Elvis remains a trend setter!
The Graceland kitchen. As I said in my post about this fabulous vintage design book, you can tell that people did drugs in the 1970s because they put carpeting in their kitchens. Fun fact – the kitchen wasn’t open to the public until 1995, because the last resident of Graceland, Elvis’ aunt Delta, used it until her death in 1993.
The basement TV room. All yellow and black and white. The lightening bolt was a symbol Elvis loved and used late in his career. The monkey statue was unexplained but obviously horrifying. Anyone need a pillow?
The other side of the TV room showcasing three TVs so Elvis could watch all three (at the time) national networks. And no, this is not where Elvis pulled out a gun and shot out a TV because it had Robert Goulet on it. That happened in Vegas (of course). Not pictured is a wet bar on the other side of the room decorated with Murano glass clowns.
The Billiards room! I swear my camera could not focus properly on this room. It could be because the furniture was wearing wall camouflage.
Why did we ever stop doing this to our ceilings? My flat white ceiling looks so boring now.
Why hello hot young Elvis. I like the mirror cutout (notice the “antiqued” effect) that follows the line of the staircase. I love the pirate shirt.
Do you like Tiki? Do you like wood tones mixed with darker wood tones? Then let me introduce you to the FABULOUS Jungle Room. This is what I’m going to be aiming for as I collect my tiki stuff. One day I’ll get there.
The term “lurid kitch” gets thrown around so often, it starts to lose meaning. Then you see a Polynesian inspired, fake fur covered couch with dragon arms and you understand.
That brick wall with the red light? Fountain. That green shag carpet? All over the ceiling. What’s under the window just out of frame? More monkey statues. Apparently this room was decorated by Elvis after an “epic shopping spree”. VERY EPIC.
Back outside. The stables and rolling hills were behind me and this was the view of the back of the house. Graceland had won us over. By this point my husband and I felt our three hour drive from Nashville was worth it. Later we would go the the historic Sun Studio and be even happier we made the trip. Don’t miss either destination if you’re in Memphis.
There is a lot more to Graceland I didn’t cover. A few random photos:
To paraphrase the Paul Simon song, for reasons I can’t explain there was some part of me that wanted to see Graceland. And I am very happy I did.
So glad you included a photo of the Surrey Jeep. For more on the history of that Jeep, and how Elvis happened to purchase a Jeep for Graceland, see “Elvis Presley’s Jeeps” at http://cj3b.info/Siblings/SurreyElvis.html on The CJ3B Page.
Missed seeing you at Film Homecoming this year!
Thanks for stopping by Derek! Wow your Jeep site is impressive. I admit I had no idea of the history of that Jeep when I took the photo. I just thought the colours were great. I had to miss homecoming, but I did donate and “buy” a brick from the old film house. I think I will keep it in my office as a doorstop or a really heavy, slightly unwieldy paper weight. So sad to see the old house go but best wishes in the new space! Thanks again for reading my blog 🙂