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Lisa Mowry

Virginia-Highland Abode

As a family physician, David Scurlock advises patients and leads medical missions to Latin America, but he also knows when it’s time to call in the specialists. For his Virginia-Highland abode, he needed an experienced trio of interior designer (Darden Straus), architect (Audrey Godiers), and contractor (Allen Layson) to transform a dated-looking bungalow into a comfortable, airy home that acknowledges its Craftsman roots.
A wide front porch defines the iconic bungalow look and is what attracted Scurlock to the 1920s house. “The front porch is long, wide, and facing north, with a side porte cochere,” he says. “It seemed like the perfect place for a Southern porch party.”
Designer Straus recalls that the front door was already painted aubergine—“that was a nice eye-catcher,” she says—so she used the unusual color as a starting point. To create an outdoor living room, Straus purchased inexpensive furniture from Pier 1 and covered the cushions in a masculine fabric that includes purple. She also commissioned long custom planters that accomplish a variety of goals: eliminating the need for railings, providing privacy for the seating area, and incorporating natural elements. Weatherproof curtains and lamps make the area even cozier.
Inside, a two-story addition off the back created more entertaining opportunities with a new kitchen and keeping room opening to a backyard pool oasis, as well as a tucked-in home office upstairs. Existing attic space became a comfortable master suite with a vaulted-ceiling bedroom and chic master bath.
The kitchen references Craftsman spirit—earthy colors, flat-panel doors, and an emphasis on natural wood—but feels lighter and more open than a strict historic interpretation. “The kitchen was designed to be very simple: red maple cabinetry that’s minimal and flush with appliances,” says Scurlock. Adjacent to the kitchen, Scurlock’s “men’s den,” as he calls it, offers a laid-back place to gather, read, or watch television.
Resources
Interior Design Darden Straus, 404-510-1247, dardenstraus.com
Architect Audrey Godier, 404-259-2478, godiersarchitecture.com
Contractor Constructive Innovations, Allen Layson, 404-245-2856
Landscape Lush Life, 404-841-9661, lushlifehomegarden.com
 
This article originally appeared in our July 2011 issue.

Hot Shop: Nandina

Nowhere in the city will you find a greater architectural range than in Inman Park—where homes vary from grand Victorian mansions to mid-rise condos. The contrast doesn’t faze Nandina Home & Design, a home furnishings store and interior design studio that opened in the neighborhood last year. Mix-and-don’t-match is the best formula for every genre, according to store owner and designer John Ishmael.

“Atlanta is very design savvy these days,” Ishmael says. “Our clients are looking for a cleaner aesthetic that combines traditional elements with a modern twist.” Case in point: a living room Ishmael recently worked on in an Inman Park bungalow, where he mixed a charcoal, silk-velvet-blend sofa with an antique industrial factory cart–turned–coffee table, then added the homeowners’ folk art collection for a bit of whimsy to offset the heavier pieces.

Nandina—named after the low-maintenance evergreen shrub—also stresses livable style. The store’s “real life, real style” motto affirms that “kids, dogs, parties, and life do happen, and no one needs to skimp on glamorous living because of them.”

Ishmael adds, “We can design and furnish a whole house, make a single window treatment, or sell just a candle.” Furnishings on the floor include a mirrored nightstand for $865, a shag rug at $189, and a set of Foo dog table lamps around $660. Designers are available to handle both space-planning and installation.

Evening events like the monthly Wine and Design series, on topics such as accessorizing or art collecting, bring neighbors together and promote local artists. 6170 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, 404-521-9303, nandinahome.com

This article originally appeared in our June 2011 issue and was updated in 2017 to reflect Nandina’s new address.

Porch Perfect

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To make new friends in Inman Park, there’s no need to wait for a formal invitation. On the last Friday of every month, residents hold a Porch Party, where anyone new or old to this intown neighborhood can drop by for an impromptu get-together on a designated porch. “It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, and it’s actually a pretty easy party to throw, since everyone brings a dish and their own drinks,” says Pat Westrick, the IP resident who organizes these monthly gatherings.

Porches have always played a key role in Inman Park, well known as Atlanta’s first planned community and for its exuberant Victorian architecture. In the days before air-conditioning, sitting on a wraparound porch was a way to catch the breeze. The tree-lined streets near Downtown were also ideal for strolling and chatting with neighbors lounging outside. In fact, that’s partly how entrepreneur Joel Hurt promoted the lots when he began selling them after the Civil War: a little bit of country life in the city. So right from the start, Inman Park had that Mayberry quality.

Of course, Mayberry looked more like Haight-Ashbury by the middle of the last century. Suburban flight and urban blight had turned many of the once-grand homes into decayed apartment buildings with junked cars sitting outside and absentee landlords. Fortunately, a few prescient pioneers began restoring the neighborhood in the 1970s, and its original glory was revived.

Today’s Inman Park is a unique blend of its bohemian and aristocratic pasts, and throughout this history, porch living has remained a constant. “It’s just the way we stay connected in Inman Park,” Westrick says.

177 Elizabeth Street
Pat and Richard Westrick
IP residents since 1975
When Pat Westrick and her husband moved in during the free-spirited seventies, Inman Park prices were cheap, and most residents did their own renovations to save money. The Westricks restored the white gingerbread trim on their yellow Victorian, using an old photo as a reference. (They found another photo in which the facade was fuchsia.) These days, since most of the houses have already been renovated, everyone just has more time to visit on front porches, Pat observes. “Inman Park still has the same kind of spirit—the neighborliness—that it did back in 1975,” she says.
 
162 Hurt Street
Alfredia and David Scott
IP residents since 1999
While some people may think of an outdoor porch as an extension of the indoors, Alfredia Scott views hers differently. “I wanted it to continue the feeling of what’s going on out in the garden,” says Alfredia, whose husband, David, represents the Thirteenth Congressional District. Accordingly, her front porch is filled with garden statues, flowers, and ferns. It’s also why she chose the trim color of this regal, hundred-plus-year-old brick house: a light mint green, the color of spring, Alfredia’s favorite season.
889 Edgewood Avenue
Jan and Windell Keith
IP residents since 1990
Windell Keith used to travel often to San Francisco, so it’s no coincidence that the circa-1890 King-Keith House now resembles one of the famed “painted ladies” in the California city. “I used to study the Victorian houses there, and I knew where we wanted to start, color-wise—with peach,” says Windell. Of course, he didn’t stop with one color. True to the San Francisco approach, more than a dozen spring colors now emphasize the home’s elaborate woodwork and architectural accents, and it’s become one of the most photographed buildings in the neighborhood. The residence is also a B&B, and Windell has noticed that guests love relaxing on the upper-level porch, one of the higher perches in this part of Atlanta. “You get a good sense of what’s going on in the neighborhood while sitting up there, but with all the trees, there’s enough privacy that people don’t necessarily see you,” he says.
 
882 Euclid Avenue
Christina and Alan Farabaugh
IP residents since 1995
Even people who have never met the Farabaughs know their house. The oversized outdoor lanterns that Christina changes on a whim—most often red, but sometimes black for Halloween or hand-painted for a party—catch the eyes of passersby. “The people who notice the lights really pay attention to them and depend on me to change them out,” Christina says. As an artist, she felt compelled to jazz up the three plain lights previously on the porch, but it’s all part of an on­going priority to bring a modern edge to a graceful Victorian house.
952 Euclid Avenue
Douglas Weiss and Chris Casey
IP residents since 1998
Douglas Weiss and Chris Casey had admired this house for years, so it was serendipitous when Casey drove by just as the previous owner was hammering a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. By the next day, Casey and Weiss had the house under contract. As an interior designer, Weiss loves the intricate woodwork, rich chocolate color, and deep eaves of the Dutch Colonial Revival structure. “It’s a masculine house, maybe more similar to Craftsman style than Victorian,” he says. (At one point, though, it was a triplex covered in asbestos siding.) Weiss (in photo) and Casey host an annual porch party for up to 200 guests during the Inman Park Festival, with the upper deck offering the best views. “It’s a crazy and diverse neighborhood,” says Weiss, “but in a good way.”
766 Dixie Avenue
Diane and Bill Jordan
IP residents since 1973
Diane and Bill Jordan were happily ensconced in a new Decatur house and expecting their first baby in 1973, so Diane was skeptical when her husband suggested they check out an old, slightly dilapidated house in Inman Park. “This house had a real hippie living there, with marijuana growing in an upstairs bedroom,” she recalls. Most interesting was the front exterior: alternating blue and green clapboards, which made the house appear striped. The front porch had been enclosed, with macrame hangers everywhere. Not only did the Jordans restore the original open porch, but they also eventually acquired the lot next door, allowing them to extend the front porch along the side. The hippie house turned out to be a great family home, Diane says. They have raised four children there, even hosting two wedding receptions on the porch.
866 Euclid Avenue
Bobbi and Andre de Winter
IP residents since 1999
Inman Park’s modern revitalization began with this Queen Anne–style house. Antiques dealer Robert Griggs bought it in 1969, restored the ornate architectural details, and persuaded friends and colleagues to do the same throughout the neighborhood. Current owner Andre de Winter sees himself and his wife as stewards of its history. “We’re just the keepers of this house, not really the owners,” he explains. A Realtor himself, de Winter was immediately drawn to the house, one of the oldest in the city, where the front porch made of Italian marble and Stone Mountain granite is just one of its charms. A belvedere, an Italian word meaning “beautiful view,” is a unique round porch located high in the turret. “This is the house that really stands out in the neighborhood,” Andre says.
36 Delta Place
Glenda and David Minkin
IP residents since 1997
Inman Park developer Joel Hurt built this house in 1892 for his brother, a physician who had an office in his home. Like other IP houses, however, at some point it served as a boarding house and suffered damage. Glenda Minkin chose a deep blue paint for the cedar shakes (one of the few neighborhood homes with that sort of exterior) and white for the trim and porch floor. The couple added a trellis, with an oval insert that mirrors a window by the front door. The trellis is covered in jasmine, with other potted arrangements nearby. The Minkins’ favorite way to use the porch? “We love to set up a bar outside so that guests can help themselves to a drink before venturing inside for a dinner party,” says Glenda.
 
The Fortieth Annual Inman Park Festival
The neighborhood’s two personas—imagine the carnival-like atmosphere of Bourbon Street merging with the historic architecture of Charleston—come together for three days later this month. Inman Park’s Spring Festival and Tour of Homes will be held April 29 to May 1. As usual, this celebration includes a huge street market, music and dance performances, arts and crafts displays, a dozen or so homes and gardens on tour, and the popular Saturday parade—with floats, bands, art cars, jugglers, drill teams, and the infamous Kelly’s Seed & Feed Marching Abominable. For more information visit inmanparkfestival.org. This year’s parade will pay homage to some of the pioneers who sparked the area’s rejuvenation.
 
This article originally appeared in our April 2011 issue.

Double Take: Virginia-Highland Nursery

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The days of fussy nurseries—with elaborate Peter Rabbit murals and poufed pastel valances—may be numbered. Today’s new parents often prefer more streamlined design schemes. “It’s partly a younger generation thing that nurseries are untraditional these days,” says interior designer Sherry Hart.
Such was the case for her clients Mande and Joe Gasser. Hart had helped the Gassers decorate their Virginia-Highland townhouse’s guest bedroom four years ago, and recently she worked with them to turn the room into a nursery.
 
“It made sense to Mande and Joe to keep the existing colors, so it wouldn’t be hard to change it back to a guest room when they might be ready for resale,” says Hart. The Gassers knew they were having a boy (son Jake was born in January, during snow week!), but they wanted to keep the look gender neutral.
Hart repurposed many of the room’s original elements. Some aged barn doors she’d found years ago at a Cheshire Bridge Road antique shop remained as a focal point. The doors had served as a headboard for the guest bed, but, Hart says, “they also make a great backdrop for the crib—which, by the way, is usually on the largest wall and can look kind of lonely all by itself.”
 
The yellow ceiling was also left intact, since it provides a sunny accent for the space. A light fixture made from an old basket adds to the casual ambience. The Gassers splurged on a crib, but otherwise Hart furnished the room with inexpensive, unexpected items to give it personality. Her finds included a papier-mâché gazelle head from Anthropologie, an abacus from CB2, a chalkboard she bought for one dollar at a yard sale, lighting from Target, shelves from Ikea, and a mobile from West Elm that was originally sold as holiday decor. Custom curtains were made from drop cloths picked up at Home Depot.
While many of the finds were serendipitous, Hart did have a general plan. The color palette of grays and yellows mixed with graphic patterns creates a modern look. An abstract animal print Hart used for pillows (and a shower curtain in an adjacent bathroom) adds color without being too sweet.
In fact, two items of clothing hanging in the room emphasize that this is no Mother Goose nursery: a onesie with “Camzilla” (and Cam Newton’s number) on it and a mini AC/DC T-shirt.
 
This article originally appeared in our April 2011 issue.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Northcrest

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Residents in Atlanta’s Northcrest subdivision can thank Hollywood for the nostalgia associated with sixties neighborhoods such as theirs—which have starred in countless movies and TV series. That interest has spurred home values. Even in one of the nation’s worst real estate markets, Northcrest properties are selling fast.
“A home that’s totally renovated with midcentury charm won’t last more than four weeks,” says Vanessa Reilly, a Northcrest resident and agent with Domo Realty. Atlanta has a limited inventory of authentic modern houses, so demand is steady. The clean-lined aesthetic appeals to design-oriented home buyers, Reilly says—architects, photographers, musicians, and television producers who scorn a McMansion.
Tucked into the northeast corner of the junction of I-85 and I-285, Northcrest’s location is technically OTP, but the area has an intown vibe. “Considering where it is, Northcrest really is a hidden area,” says John Eaton, who maintains the website northcrestmodern.com and has lived in the neighborhood for thirteen years.
Like many of his neighbors, Eaton was attracted to the relative affordability (currently in the $200s) and architectural integrity of the houses, with their low-pitched roofs, tongue-and-groove ceilings, large picture windows, and open floor plans. Fireplaces feature elongated Roman bricks. Lots are generously sized and filled with mature trees, and the terrain is slightly hilly, making it well suited to split-level floor plans.
P&H Realty Company developed Northcrest from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Touted as “homes of tomorrow . . . today,” the neighborhood features a mix of traditional brick ranches, A-frames, Colonials, and split-levels. Original sale prices were under $30,000 and included state-of-the-art amenities such as wall-to-wall carpet and central air-conditioning.
Most of Northcrest’s 500-plus residents embrace the character of sixties chic. Reilly and her boyfriend dress in vintage clothes and blog about modern home renovation. Enthusiasts search for original furniture by period designers such as Hans J. Wegner and George Nelson. Other neighbors mix Ikea with Craigslist finds for a modern aesthetic that’s youthful, if a bit kitschy. First-time home buyers love that some of the original residents still live in the houses where they raised families, sharing stories of Northcrest life from decades ago.
 
This article originally appeared in our March 2011 issue.

Before & After: Second Chances

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When Jennifer and William Ryan bought their 1906 cottage in Grant Park, “it resembled something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie,” says Jennifer. Four years earlier, the humble house had burned almost to the ground. Little remained but the frame and a fireplace. But Jennifer felt drawn to this unloved skeleton, partially because she had grown up in a Victorian home once ravaged by fire.
The happy ending to this tale hit a detour after the closing. The Ryans paid thousands of dollars to a contractor who skipped town after he’d removed so much of the remaining structure, they weren’t able to get it approved by the city as a remodeling project. Starting over, Jennifer and William drew up plans for a new construction project, then applied to the Atlanta Urban Design Commission—all while coping with depleted building funds.
“I had to look at this whole experience as an opportunity,” says Jennifer. “We decided to take the time to add something special to each room, rather than rushing through the remodeling project we were originally going to do.”
To stay within the tight budget, the couple scoured Craigslist and eBay for salvaged items such as old doors and windows. While they had to meet strict requirements for building in a historic neighborhood, Jennifer wanted to give the house a fresh spin. For instance, a transom window is required above the front door, but the Ryans hung their stained-glass version with a hinge so it can swing out like an awning to let in the breeze.
“We wanted it to be Victorian enough for resale, but a little funkier on the inside,” she says. “I always say that this is not your mama’s Victorian.”
The kitchen has both vintage and modern elements, such as stainless steel appliances that Jennifer bought as floor samples. As a loftlike feature, 100-year-old bricks were cut a quarter-inch thick, then used as a surround on the island and vent hood. The bricks reference the fireplace from the original structure. And as another nod to the past, Jennifer made her own light fixtures by converting Mason jars into pendants. (She was even inspired to start a business, aptly called Reclaimed Lighting. See reclaimedlighting.com and vintagemodernstyle.com for Jennifer’s work.)
The adjacent dining room is based on the original layout of the house, although the Ryans added a window seat as that room’s “something special.” Jennifer made a chandelier out of jars, then paired an antique wooden table with green acrylic chairs.
Their hard work was rewarded soon after they finished the project, when the Urban Design Commission bestowed the house with the Award of Excellence for new construction in 2009.
 
This article originally appeared in our February 2011 issue.

A French Wine Cave in Johns Creek

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Wine distributor Michael Hirsch and his wife Janie have visited vintners’ private collections across the French countryside. So when the couple added a cellar to their Johns Creek house, they looked to Europe for inspiration. There, wine is usually stored in stone or brick bins rather than in the wooden racks often seen in the U.S., says Janie, an interior designer. “We decided to go for a similar ‘underground cave’ look. Since you always want to make sure that the corks don’t dry out, wine cellars should be moist and cold,” she explains. “For that, you need all hard surfaces rather than wood that might rot.”
 
Originally, the Hirsch house had nothing more than a dirt-and-clay crawl space, so the couple tackled structural changes first: moving existing electrical systems and creating a basement with concrete floor and walls. Even though the wine cellar was situated underground where temperatures are cooler, a refrigeration unit and extra insulation were needed for the storage area.
 
Once the mechanics were in place, Janie began the creative part. She located old-looking bricks at a local brickyard to use for shelving, which was reinforced with steel. “I told the bricklayers to make the mortar around the bricks really sloppy for an Old World look, as if it’s oozing out of the brick,” she says. Each bin is arranged by vintage or region, with bottles stacked and chalkboards listing the contents of each compartment. Slate floors and hard-coat stucco walls complete the cavelike ambience.
 
Outside the cellar, Janie created a comfortable tasting area with club chairs and a table. “Some people put tasting areas in the cellar itself, but since you’re supposed to keep the wines at about 56 degrees, that’s a little too chilly,” she points out. To give their entertaining area a publike coziness, Janie added black paneling, berry-colored walls, and a gold ceiling. Maps of French wine regions and antique wine accessories provide conversation pieces, while antique lanterns allow candlelit gatherings. Friends and family now head straight downstairs. “This is where we end up every time we have people over,” says Janie. jhirschinteriors.com
 
More Tips for Home Cellars
› When adding a cellar, hire an experienced builder or installer who understands the room’s special requirements. For instance, the Hirsches’ storage area includes a drip pan that evaporates and humidifies the air (to keep corks moist). It also includes insulation with a moisture barrier similar to the material used around bathrooms.
› The Hirsches keep the temperature between 56 and 57 degrees so white wines and champagnes stay properly chilled, although Janie recommends not serving wines at that temperature. “Ideally, you should drink [reds] at a temperature somewhere between that found in a wine cellar and room temperature, so take the bottle out and let it sit for a few minutes before opening,” she says. White wines should be chilled slightly more, so pop them into the refrigerator for thirty minutes.
› Michael recommends taking time to fill a wine cellar with true favorites. “People often fill a cellar too quickly and are stuck with wines they don’t enjoy,” he says. “Never buy solely on ratings or friends’ recommendations. Find your own gems.”
› Even though cellars are for storage, don’t let your wines get too old, Michael cautions. “It’s better to drink a year too early than a year too late.”
 
This article originally appeared in our December 2010 issue.

Expert Advice: Shane Meder

Shane Meder understands the challenges of downsizing, because he just did it. “I was done with my big-house living and ready for a new way to live,” the interior designer says. Going from his “tricked-out” home—complete with in-house theater and gym—to a Buckhead condo, Meder had to pare down decades of acquired furnishings.
 
Now he helps clients adjust to empty-nester status or just a smaller domicile. “I tell people that it was a different chapter when you lived in a five-bedroom house, and now it’s time for a new chapter in life,” Meder says. People are often happier with fewer things and a cozier space, he adds. “Most people enjoy actually watching TV together in the one family room instead of everyone spread out all over a three-story house.”
 
The designer’s advice for living with less:

1. Start with the small stuff. “Begin with a collection, like your collection of candlesticks, and just pick a few favorites, then box everything else up,” Meder advises. All the wedding china doesn’t need to be displayed, and almost everyone puts out too many picture frames. “Your daughter is now thirty-five, so do you really need eight photos of her when she was in kindergarten on the piano?”

2. Throw out old decorating ideas. “When you say, ‘I can’t put those lamps in the bedroom because those are my living room lamps,’ you’ve become your mother.”

3. Get outside help. When dividing up furnishings among grown children, sometimes it’s helpful to hire an outsider to be a mediator. Similarly, there are companies that hold estate sales or arrange for donation of unwanted items.

4. Streamline holiday decorating. Go through seasonal decorations and keep only the handmade or truly distinctive items. Give away all the department store Santas, balls, and garlands.

5. Enjoy knowing your donations will be used by someone else. One client donated furnishings to a women’s shelter and ended up getting involved with it. “Sometimes, giving away things leads to a larger purpose,” Meder says. blacksheepinteriors.com

 
This article originally appeared in our November 2010 issue.

Liza Bryan Tackles Art

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Liza Bryan likes to create interiors where fine antiques and carefully selected furnishings are the centerpieces, so imagine the designer’s disappointment upon hearing a new client say, “I don’t like furniture, and I don’t like antiques.”
 
Fortunately, the client added, “But I do like art.” So began Bryan’s sweet collaboration with a Buckhead couple whose astute acquisitions include works by renowned artists such as Todd Murphy, Benny Andrews, the Moulthrop family, and even Picasso—yes, that Picasso.
 
Bryan and her clients developed a mutually beneficial relationship, where each educated the other about their passions. Bryan realized right away what the focal points would be. “When you’re designing a room, you can only have a few stars, and the art is the star for this house,” she says. “There are so many givens with the art that, to a certain extent, the rest falls into place.”
 
Architecture also played an important role. The townhouse’s architectural elements complemented the less-is-more decorating philosophy, with walls unadorned by molding, a subtle coffered ceiling, arched doorways, and an elegant custom iron banister by Charles Calhoun. Atlanta architect Peter Block created this quiet neighborhood, known as the Enclave on Peachtree, to resemble homes on the streets of Paris. The European feel appealed to Bryan’s clients and fit the contemporary look they desired.
 
Bryan sought ways to add warmth to the more streamlined aesthetic. “Modern design can be so predictable,” she says. “We knew we didn’t want a lot of color, but we wanted to add visual interest in other ways.” The living room sofa and chairs are mostly neutral to fit the cool gray color palette, for instance, but the designer chose a textured linen, then added pillows with a graphic Manuel Canovas print.
 
In the dining room, far right, Bryan selected a tea paper for the ceiling and a sisal rug for the floor, both adding depth to the clean-lined space. A colorful ceramic bowl by Jack Moulthrop has a familiar shape but puts a different twist on the Moulthrop heritage. It and a Benny Andrews painting that hangs here are two of the homeowners’ favorite pieces. Bryan selected a classic round table and upholstered chairs to allow the art—and the sculptural chandelier—to shine.
RESOURCES
Interior Design Liza Bryan Interiors, 425 Peachtree Hills Avenue, Suite 29-A, 404-848-0588
Architecture Peter Block Architects, 2300 Peachtree Road, Suite C-201, 404-352-2422, peterblockarchitects.com
 
This article originally appeared in our November 2010 issue.

Take 3

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1  The Homeowners John and Wendi Wells, with their two teenage children, Brant and Audrey. John’s dedication to green practices crossed over from his job with eco-minded Interface, the Atlanta-based carpet company, to the family’s new custom home.

Green House Solar panels on the roof, geothermal heating and air conditioning, and rainwater harvesting systems reduce utility costs. In the kitchen, floors and island countertop are each made of reclaimed wood. Formaldehyde-free cabinets and a salvaged light fixture also give this classic kitchen a sustainable sensibility. But if the materials are cutting-edge, the design is Old World. Cabinetry resembles furniture. Vintage touches such as subway tile, marble countertops, and a wood-plank ceiling give the new house a historic look.

Back Story The wood used for the island top is from an old oak tree that was knocked down in Oakland Cemetery by the tornado of 2008 (when many of the windows in the Westin Peachtree Plaza were also damaged). An adjacent butcher-block prep table was made from wood salvaged from the White Provision factory. Wendi loves the island’s beat-up, lived-in quality. “I wanted the island to look like an old French bakery table with an antique piece of furniture pushed up next to it,” she says. “We laugh that it’s full of ghosts and haints.”

Test Drive A few weeks after moving into the new house, Wendi and John hosted Thanksgiving for twenty-five people. “The tables where people ate were spread out all over the house, but we were able to put all the food and plates—the entire meal—on the island,” recalls Wendi. The kitchen’s three dishwashers (a full-size one and two dishwasher drawers) earned their keep that day too.

2  The Homeowners Howard and Ellen Feinsand commute between Manhattan, Indianapolis, and Atlanta.

The Challenge Although only 200 square feet (just eight feet wide), this galley-style kitchen in their Colony House condo has to live large. “The Feinsands needed the room to function in three different ways,” says kitchen designer Robin Pittman of Design Galleria. “It serves as a kitchen, laundry room, and a bar–serving area, so we had to use every inch.”

Triple Duty A pantry at the end of the kitchen has frosted glass doors so the room doesn’t seem too closed in. Open metal shelves against a glass backsplash keep the look modern and streamlined. The other side of the room contains a second sink (where Ellen repots her orchids) and hides a washer-dryer below. Counter space can be used to fold clean laundry one day, then serve as an entertaining station the next.

Shiny Things The cappuccino-colored cabinets have a shiny lacquer finish—a good fit for this high-rise home that overlooks the sparkle of Atlanta skyscrapers—but the floors are limestone tiles with a matte surface. Similarly, the metal fixtures and glass backsplash are reflective, but honed granite countertops provide contrast. “Everyone loves the colors in here, and particularly the glass tiles,” says Ellen. Design Galleria kitchen specialists and interior designer Bill Stewart worked together to coordinate the carefully balanced room.

Test Drive The Feinsands have entertained as many as a hundred guests in their condo. “We’ve had two particularly memorable parties using this kitchen,” says Ellen. “A dinner party in honor of artist Todd Murphy to celebrate the installation of a major piece by him in our living room, and a surprise party for all of Howard’s friends to celebrate his birthday.”

 
3 The Homeowners The ultimate hyphenate couple: Cinda, an interior designer–TV personality–owner of Cinda B, a quilted accessories line; and Mark, an artist-businessman-entrepreneur. They bought a 1920s Italianate house in Buckhead a few years ago and gave it their own artsy update.

Save and Splurge The Boomershines saved money on remodeling their kitchen by keeping existing cabinetry, although they rearranged the components to position the sink under a window. To spruce up the old cabinets, every surface now wears Lucite hardware and a couple coats of gray oil paint in a glossy finish. With the cabinetry savings, they splurged on Calcutta marble countertops. A cork floor brings more interesting texture into the room. Cinda loves the mix of high-low elements, which include budget-savers such as four Ikea pendants. “One wouldn’t have been interesting. It’s the repetition that works,” says Cinda.

Walls of Another Stripe “Home is my laboratory to experiment with ideas that clients wouldn’t normally let me do,” says Cinda. Case in point: using leftover paint from adjoining rooms to create stripes on the upper walls, which is both an affordable wall treatment and a conversation piece. Mark patiently did the application himself. “A good level and painters tape are your best friends for a job like that,” says Cinda.

Time Together “We take turns as far as who does the cooking, depending on who’s the busiest at any given time,” says Cinda. But both of them pitch in for the annual “Fig Extravaganza.” In July, when the Boomershines’ backyard fig tree is bursting with fruit, the two experiment with every sort of concoction that can be made with figs—such as fig-prosciutto pizza. “We try new things every day until we’re totally sick of figs,” she says.

 
This article originally appeared in our November 2010 issue.

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