Historic architecture and transitional interiors blend in this 1920s Druid Hills house

Find fresh and unexpected interiors behind the walls of this traditional house

Druid Hills home
The homeowners kept the original exterior of this circa-1920s house intact but updated the landscaping with help from Dottie Myers and Associates. The house is located on a tree-lined street in Druid Hills, the charming neighborhood near Emory University made famous by the movie Driving Miss Daisy.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Historic architecture and transitional interiors can be an exciting pair, bringing new energy to old bones. Case in point: this 1920s Druid Hills house, where the design-build team at HammerSmith created a comfortable, livable family home—with some modern surprises thrown in for fun. “We want clients to use every room, every day,” says Allison McConaughey, interior designer and business partner with her husband, Warner. “And we also wanted it to be unexpected from what you usually see in Druid Hills.”

Druid Hills home
Allison McConaughey

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Druid Hills home
“This wall is not what you expect when you walk into a 1920s home in Druid Hills, and that is exactly what we wanted,” says interior designer Allison McConaughey of HammerSmith. “The concrete tiles have a formation in the shape of a flower seed—very appropriate for a house surrounded by beautiful gardens.”

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Druid Hills home
Contemporary outdoor furniture from West Elm will get a natural gray patina with age. The stone terrace includes an outdoor grilling area and fireplace, with a plunge pool below. An advantage of a plunge pool: its ability to heat up or cool down quicker than a large version.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

The house sits on a wide street originally laid out by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to accommodate streetcars. Arched windows and an offset door are hallmarks of this English Classical–style house, which makes the first step inside all the more stunning. A three-dimensional wall of concrete tile in the entryway greets visitors with a spa-like simplicity; a sculptural console made of reclaimed wood is the only furniture. “The entry before had been cramped with built-in benches for shoes and hooks for coats—not a good first impression,” Allison says. “We decided to have a somewhat dramatic entry, something to set the stage.”

Druid Hills home
The blue velvet sofa from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams was a starting point for this stylish but cozy living room. Sherwin-Williams “Agreeable Gray” provides a warm backdrop on walls. A carved wooden chest from Stanton Home Furnishings is a fresher alternative to a traditional mahogany chest.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Druid Hills home
The design-build firm renewed the existing dining room built-ins with new hardware, doors, and paint. For furnishings, Allison opted for an informal look. “I love round dining tables,” she says. “There are so many square edges in the world, so I like to soften those edges as much as I can.”

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Allison kept the adjacent living room more traditional but refreshed it by painting the original fireplace mantel a soft blue-black and choosing a blue velvet sofa and two Barcelona chairs as stylish anchors. A casual dining room includes geometric print–upholstered chairs, updated built-ins with a window seat, and an unassuming light fixture made of mercury glass.

Druid Hills home
The remodeled kitchen island is topped with Calacatta Venato marble with a 2.5-inch mitered edge. A French blue island and copper vent hood stand out among all the creamy whites.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

The design team worked around existing load-bearing walls to update the kitchen while keeping the general footprint the same. “The kitchen reflects the homeowners’ love of French industrial style,” Allison says. “The island cabinet is a French blue for pop, and the marble was a splurge, but we used it sparingly, to stay within budget yet make a big impact.” A copper vent hood and banquette table with metal casters continue the European approach of mixed metals and materials.

 

Druid Hills home
“We kept the design clean and simple in the master bath so that the tile gets the full show,” Allison says. A floating vanity has plenty of storage.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Druid Hills home
A sculptural, free-standing tub in a matte finish has its own serene corner in the master bath.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Druid Hills home

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Druid Hills home
The tiny, blue-tiled powder room is attached to the outdoor shower, far left, serving both the main floor and the pool.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

A swanky upstairs master bath could easily belong in a modern high-rise, but its use of classic touches such as marble floor tiles and Roman shades fits the home’s original era. The clients’ love of blue is continued with connecting geometric tiles as a vanity backsplash and in the shower. A floating white vanity and hanging pendants make the large room seem even more spacious. A previous owner had already converted this space (originally a sleeping porch, Allison surmises) into a large master bath.

Allison and Warner work on a lot of projects in Druid Hills—their own former house, published in Elle Décor, is nearby, as well as another home currently under renovation for their family—so they understand the smart space-planning and careful decorating involved with historic houses. “People these days want it all: comfortable living and modern ideas mixed in with the old,” Allison says.

Druid Hills home

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Resources
Design-Build HammerSmith, Inc., 404-377-1021, hammersmith.net
Foyer Tile: Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com. Console: Bungalow, bungalowhome.com. Lighting: Brummel pendant, Tech Lighting, techlighting.com.
Living room Sofa: Mitchell-Gold, mgbwhome.com. Side tables and lamps: Stanton Home Furnishings, stantonhomefurnishings.com. Coffee table: South of Market, southofmarket.biz.
Dining room Lighting: Circa Lighting, circalighting.com
Kitchen Cabinetry paint: Sherwin-Williams “Black Pepper,” sherwin-williams.com
Breakfast room Table: Custom by HammerSmith, hammersmith.net. Lighting: Circa Lighting.
Powder room Vanity: Custom by HammerSmith. Fixtures: Kohler, kohler.com. Sink: Barclay, barclayproducts.com.
Deck Furniture: West Elm, westelm.com
Family room Fireplace: Francois & Co., francoisandco.com
Daughter’s bedroom Headboard fabric: Kravet, kravet.com
Master bedroom Side table: Stanton Home Furnishings.
Master bathroom Tile: Walker Zanger. Tub: MTI Baths.

This article appears in our Summer 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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