Bikoff covers lifestyle topics including fashion, art, and travel. She began her career at Atlanta magazine as an intern in 2006 and returned as associate editor in 2013. In between, she lived in New York and freelanced for Condé Nast, National Geographic publications, and Paper magazine. While there, she got a master's degree in American studies from Columbia University. A native of Atlanta, she is a University of Georgia graduate and lives in an old bungalow in Inman Park with her husband and Australian shepherd.
The storefronts on Georgia Avenue in the Summerhill neighborhood once buzzed with activity, boasting butchers, barbers, and shops before sitting neglected for decades in the shadow of I-85 and sports stadiums. The historic commercial strip is in the midst of a transformation by developer Carter & Associates and now hums again with restaurants like Little Bear, Talat Market, Junior’s Pizza, Little Tart Bakeshop, Wood’s Chapel BBQ, and the forthcoming fast-casual Southern joint Maepole drawing crowds to the neighborhood alongside the new Georgia State Stadium.
Until now, however, the slew of new offerings on the neighborhood’s main drag—four blocks in a mix of refurbished historic buildings and new infill in similar style—had been limited mainly to food and drink, minus Maggie Murphy’s Salon, which moved from Grant Park to Summerhill last year. The latest announcement adds retail and more beauty and wellness to the neighborhood lineup, with the announcement of the second location of the Old Fourth Ward spa Aviary, and a chic gift shop and letterpress, the Press Shop, both expected to open in June. The development has also inked plans for a major grocery store, community bank, and a dentist, addressing more practical needs that may show Carter’s intent on serving the surrounding community—which includes longtime residents and the recent influx of GSU students—and not just building a destination.
Longtime residents of Summerhill—historically Black and once home to a large Jewish population—have been marred by development before, first from clearance for the interstate and “urban renewal,” then from the construction of two stadiums and a prairie of parking lots that saw the streets around them wither.
“From the beginning, it’s been the plan to get input from the neighbors,” says Jack Murphy, senior director at Carter.
The boutique-sized Aviary (and multi-time Best of Atlanta winner) is known for its personal, intimate atmosphere with its two treatment rooms and just a handful of salon chairs—the antithesis of the busy salon waiting room. Owner Amy Leavell Bransford says this is what has allowed her to carry on safely during the pandemic, and even prompted the opening of her second location, equally cozy in size. The treatment menu will be much the same as at the Old Fourth Ward location, with a few new services at the Summerhill location yet to be announced. The products Bransford carries are reason enough for a visit—like cult French skincare line Biologique Recherche and CBD-infused beauty goods from Lord Jones. Facials start at $165 and haircuts at $80, but Bransford aims to have lower priced pick-me-ups as well, including face creams in the $20 range and quick services like waxing and tinting.
“I want to keep the neighboring community and the GSU students in mind,” she says. Bransford is also looking to hire from within the community, and the exterior will include a custom mural to fit in with the neighborhood’s abundant display of art by Living Walls.
Between Aviary and the forthcoming bank, Ashley Buzzy McHugh is opening Press Shop, a gift store and letterpress that had been slated for its grand opening on Dekalb Avenue just before Covid hit. (McHugh had previously operated a weddings-based, appointment-only letterpress business out of the space.) Now, she’s relocated for the grand opening and expanded her concept to tropical plants, biodynamic wine, kids’ stuff, books, and other giftable items—and of course stationery, with her hulking antique presses (which she sweats over herself) doubling as working displays in the front windows. Many of her offerings are local; others are brands she’s discovered while living in different cities across the country with her husband, who plays professional baseball. McHugh, who is of Middle Eastern descent, says she aims for the shop to feel inclusive, gender-neutral, and quirky, stocked with anti-racism and feminist books, as well as wares by a diverse lineup of artists and brands.
When interior designer Jessica Davis, founder of the groovy hardware line Nest Studio, was house-hunting in Atlanta in 2018, she knew she wanted a change from the grand, turreted Victorian where she and her family had been living in the New York City area.
“We had never lived in a midcentury-modern,” says Jessica, who grew up in Hong Kong and has lived all over the world. “And I’d always wanted to.”
Her husband, Scott, who works in management consulting, had landed a job in Atlanta, and it was he who found the circa-1960 L-shaped post-and-beam home online and took the first tour. The couple and their two children packed their bags sooner than expected and headed south.
The house, on a leafy two-acre hill in Buckhead, was an early project by architect Jerry Cooper, cofounder of the noted Atlanta firm Cooper Carry. But it was due for some updates, which the Davises embarked on thoughtfully, keeping the original footprint and repurposing materials. The former kitchen, which Jess describes as “very high-end for the ’80s,” got a full makeover with integrated appliances, Fireclay tile, Dekton countertops, and a pop of color in the cherry-red Smeg range.
The floors in the foyer and halls got an upgrade to swanky terrazzo, which Jessica describes as appropriate for the house’s era. It was a splurge compensated for by painting the subfloor in the master bedroom rather than topping it with another material.
The project is a study in sophisticated DIY: The crafty designer loves refreshing old or found pieces with paint and custom upgrades, like her stylish hardware (available at Matthew Quinn Collection), which stars throughout the house. Playful touches abound, like wallpaper fit for crayons, homemade bed forts for the kids, and even a secret passageway through false cabinetry.
For her hardware line, Nest Studio, designer Jessica Davis collaborates with sculptors and artists around the world—many of whom she finds on Instagram.
Dallas native and singer/songwriter Jared Foster landed in Atlanta in 2014 while collaborating with Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae on his Grammy-nominated song, “All I Need Is You.” Carpentry was just a side gig he picked up to support himself while he launched his solo act—something he’d tinkered with as a child with his stepfather, then honed working on the line for Vought Aircraft, doing precision work with titanium and platinum. “My stepdad always said to experiment,” says Foster. “He’d say, ‘If you mess it up, it’s just wood.’” So, Foster bought a new jigsaw, borrowed a corded drill from his then girlfriend (now wife), and wrote songs while he crafted furniture. He posted his work on social media, and requests for custom pieces—often from others in the recording industry—started pouring in. (He’s since invested in better equipment.)
Then, he built his wife a daybed swing for the wraparound porch at their home in West End, where they live with their one-year-old son. “Next thing I knew, everyone in West End wanted one.” It became such a specialty of his that he changed the name of his business from Foster Carpentry to Porch 959 for their address, where he started his work. Now, he has a workshop and studio in Southwest Atlanta, but, during the coronavirus pandemic, he’s found himself sawing and drilling back on the porch where it all began, taking orders for tables, headboards, and, yes, the swings, as well as countertops and shelves. He likes working with white oak, ash, and anything interesting he comes across at lumber yards and shops like Carlton’s Rare Woods & Veneers in Midtown—such as the zebrawood he wants to craft into a coffee table for a rap artist.
Foster’s music career has dovetailed with his carpentry business, and although concerts are on hold, he recently released an EP, Making Love, under his name JPaulSings.
He’s also been collaborating with other musical artists, including Q Parker from Atlanta- based, Grammy-winning R&B group 112—not for music, this time, but for a furniture line. One can imagine that the sounds coming from that workshop are more melodious than the grinding of a saw. (They’ve been talking about music videos and already have been approached about a reality show.)
Another collaboration Foster is working on is finding a Black-owned metalworking business to partner with. “Growing up, I didn’t see many Black-owned carpentry businesses,” he says. “So, that’s important to me.”
This article appears in our Fall 2020 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.
Niko Rigney and Jon Boykin knew they wanted to marry their affinities for Japanese wabi-sabi, Scandinavian design, street art, punk rock, and gaming (both the video and board varieties) in their new three-story townhouse in Reynoldstown. But pulling it off in an elevated fashion was a different matter.
They first got stuck selecting tile—and realized they needed help. Research online led them to Lake Claire–based Kate Hayes Design and designers Kate Hayes and Krista Sharif. But at their first consultation, the couple hired the team on the spot for the entire house, top to bottom.
“We thought it was going to be a quick consult,” says Kate. “But we really hit it off.”
They landed on a gradient from the first floor to the top, with the first floor (home to the game room and music studio, where both Niko and Jon play punk and metal) getting the wildest, rawest treatment and then a progressively more reserved vibe moving up the floors to the colorful but grounded bedroom and serene, spa-like bath.
Jon, a marketing and tech executive, and Niko, a neuroscience PhD student, were drawn to the designers’ ability to pull all of their interests together in a sophisticated way—and ultimately gave them free rein to experiment. “We really got to ‘go there,’” says Kate. “That freedom is rare.”
Tiny but mighty
“There’s no point in trying to make a small bathroom look big,” says designer Kate Hayes. “But you do have an opportunity to go wild with it.” Here are some tricks Hayes and Krista Sharif of Kate Hayes Design used in Niko Rigney and Jon Boykin’s Reynoldstown townhouse.
Create a jewel box. Layer in the color and pattern. Try picking up the wildest hue in your house palette and expanding it in your bathroom. “Maybe it’s a color you wouldn’t do in your kitchen,” says Kate, “but it would be really dramatic in a powder room.” Don’t balk from statement tile—but if you are feeling timid, you can use it in small spaces for an accent, like a shower stripe or a backsplash. Kate and Krista find themselves often turning to Clé Tile, Fireclay Tile, and Specialty Tile on Miami Circle. “Wallpaper—always” in a powder room, though it’s not a good idea in full baths that are frequently used because of the humidity and moisture.
Light it right.
If it’s not your master bath where you’re putting on makeup and staring at your pores, you want soft, warm light. “Take out your daylight bulbs or you’ll want to cry every time you walk in the bathroom,” says Kate. Put everything on dimmers and opt for 2700K LED bulbs—or even multiple 40 watts. Don’t be afraid to branch out of the bath section when it comes to fixtures for something a little bit more chic.
Know where to stay simple.
Kate and Krista love wild walls but clean and simple plumbing fixtures. “You don’t want to do anything too much of a statement with plumbing because it’s hard to change out,” says Kate. They’re currently feeling polished nickel and unlacquered brass finishes. The Kohler Purist line is a go-to favorite, but you’ll also see them installing Newport Brass, Rohl, and Kallista.
Add some jewelry.
The place you can really go crazy is cool accessories. “We really think of them as conversation starters for guests,” says Krista, who picked up the blue submarine soap dispenser in the “David Bowie” bath from Seletti. Waste bins are another place to add whimsy. “There’s a way to elevate designs with small, inexpensive items.” The pair often turns to European sources like the Danish Design Store for little things that are a bit tongue-in-cheek.
Nail the scale.
“We love a petite mirror in small bathrooms,” says Kate. They leave more wall space—either for that wallpaper to shine or for an airier vibe. “And for mirrors, we love to go vintage.”
When married couple Emily and Drew Hecht dreamed up their entertaining company late last year, they had no idea that small outdoor gatherings would be all but the rule for seeing friends in 2020. The pair of Atlanta natives moved back to the city from L.A. just as the pandemic began and launched Gather Picnic Company in the dog days of summer, setting up highly styled picnic settings for small groups and mini-parties. Turns out the timing was just right, as friends were hungry for new experiences and creative ways to safely spend time together.
Here’s how it works: Pick your outdoor location (it can be a public park or just your backyard), and choose from Gather’s travel-inspired themes for staycation vibes—the boho chic of Venice, California; the blues and whites of Milos, Greece; and, coming soon, the Southwestern cool of Santa Fe. Arrive at the designated time and find party-ready linens, cutlery, glassware, and florals decking the tables, along with Bluetooth speakers, umbrellas for shade, and blankets to cozy up in. (Tables and pillows can be arranged for safe distancing.) Food is not included in the setup, but Gather partners with Graze Atlanta for charcuterie boards and can help source and orchestrate other deliveries.
The Hechts had baby showers and birthday celebrations in mind when they developed Gather, but it works just as well for a fancy dinner date en plein air. From $350, gatherpicnicco.com
This year has not been easy. Our routines and support structures have been upended. Fear and anxiety are up—so too are addiction and depression. We dread the headlines. But if there’s one thing we learned from putting together this package, it’s that no matter what you’re feeling right now, you’re not alone. Said one Emory University psychologist we spoke with, “Nobody is getting a 100 in this particular course.” It’s important to go easy on yourself. First, the basics: Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise. But in a deeper dive, we rounded up questions from readers and posed them to therapists, counselors, and psychologists for their advice; we bet you can relate to at least one of them. We like to consider this package akin to a free counseling session, and although these articles are not a substitute for one-on-one therapy, we hope it’s a start. We also tracked down advice on the best ways to combat your stress in a hurry, from journaling to brewing tea, and we’ve even included a coloring page as a mindfulness exercise. And to lift up your spirits? Big pictures of a sigh-inducing puppy.
Ask a Therapist
A few months ago, we rounded up questions from readers and posed them to therapists, counselors, and psychologists for their advice. We bet you can relate to at least one of them. > Keep reading
How to reset your stress
When your cortisol rises, here are six self-soothing strategies from the experts to punch it back down in just a few minutes. > Keep reading
Five spots to find solace in the great outdoors
A quiet sense of calm and contemplation pervades the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. Though the impressive abbey and museum are temporarily closed to the public due to Covid-19, its 2,300-acre grounds and gardens adjacent to Arabia Mountain are open for meditative walks for people of all faiths—or no faith. Settle on a bench overlooking the quiet lake for a moment of soulful reflection. > Learn about the other spots
Here’s your cue: blood pressure, down. Even if you’re not in a position to get a pet, we thought this photo of Diego, an eight-week-old Beagle mix from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, might give you one big de-stressing sigh. Research has proven that pets, especially dogs and cats, can physically calm us, provide comfort and routine, ease loneliness (a side-effect of social isolation), and promote activity. There are dozens of shelters in Atlanta, many of which have seen record adoptions this year. By press time, Diego had been adopted, but HSNEGA was expecting two more litters of puppies just around this issue’s release date.
Journaling as a Self-Care Practice
Scientific studies have proven that journaling helps manage anxiety and stress. For starters, the physical process of recording your thoughts helps you stay present and evokes mindfulness.
Journaling also helps you organize tasks and challenges that can otherwise feel overwhelming. The simple act of writing down your thoughts makes them tangible and less abstract. Then, you can prioritize and tackle issues or emotions one by one. > Keep reading
The one skill that has served me best—which I’ve shared with friends as they’ve worried about home-schooling, masks, porous surfaces, and the like—is part of a practice called “TIPP,” which stands for “temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing, and paired muscle relaxation.” The “temperature” part is what really sticks with me. > Keep reading
Take a mineral bath.
“An Epsom salt bath is my favorite way to destress,” says Kristin Oja, a nurse practitioner and founder of the Westside’s STAT Wellness. Add one cup of Epsom salt to a hot tub, and soak for 20 minutes. The magnesium in Epsom salt is thought to relieve muscle pain and even tension headaches as your body absorbs it, according to the Cleveland Clinic. “Dim the lights or turn them off and just light a candle,” says Oja. Trouble finding 20 minutes? “Put it on your calendar just like you would any other meeting,” Oja says.
Grow aromatherapeutic herbs and flowers—then use them to make tea.
Studies have shown that a cup of tea can reduce cortisol levels by more than 50 percent in less than an hour. Meanwhile, the aromatherapeutic properties of some herbs impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Plus, just the ritual of making tea can be soothing. Try this tip from Brandi Shelton, founder of local tea company Just Add Honey.
▸ Start with peppermint. It’s easy to grow—even indoors in the winter by a sunny window.
▸ Boil 8 ounces of water. Remove from heat.
▸ Pick around 15 mint leaves. To get the oils flowing, crush them a bit in your hands first for an aromatherapeutic pick-me-up. Add to the pot (with holy basil sprigs and dried rose petals if you’re feeling fancy) and steep for 5 to 7 minutes. Strain leaves and add local honey (Shelton likes Honey Next Door).
Come spring, plant a pot of lavender outside in the sun and give that a try using the same method with the buds. Want to skip the plants and get right to the tea? Grab an ounce of the many looseleaf teas from Just Add Honey.
Breathe. “It’s the oldest and most widely known trick,” says Jeffrey Jaeger, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, “but that’s probably because it’s one of the best.” When acutely stressed, you start breathing faster and shallower, creating a version of hyperventilation.
Visualize a square in front of you. Imagine your in-breath going up one of the sides, and as you move across the top of the square, hold it for a few seconds. Then, do the out-breath going down the other side, and then hold for a few seconds on bottom side of the square. “Some people like to pair a soothing word with the breath as well,” says Jaeger. “For example, you could say ‘calm’—either out loud or in your head—with the out-breath. It becomes a little bit of a mantra.”
Meditate with your coffee. If you say you don’t have time to meditate, but never miss your morning coffee, Meryl Arnett of the podcast The Mindful Minute has something for you. Finding focus has long been shown to quiet thoughts and reduce stress.
▸ Before anyone else is awake, pour your coffee. Take a comfortable seat, holding the mug in both hands. Sit tall; roll your shoulders back.
▸ Breathe in deeply through the nose, then open your mouth and release a sigh. Let it go.
▸ Send a soft gaze toward your mug. Notice the color. The shape. The texture. Notice the warmth move up your forearm, until you can’t tell where the warmth starts or stops.
▸ Breathe in deeply, and notice the smell.
▸ Let your ears open up, and notice the sounds. Slowly bring your mug up, and take one sip. Pause for a moment, holding it in your mouth. As you swallow, follow the taste and warmth as far into the body as you can.
Let this morning ritual wake up your senses. Go into your day with mindful awareness, easy breath, and an open heart.
Oja has a few tips for simple poses that can relieve muscle tension and improve your mood.
1. Lie down on the floor facing a wall, and scoot your bottom all the way to the wall, with your legs straight up in the air against the wall. Breathe deeply.
2. Get on all fours and arch and curl your back in the “cat/cow” stretch, filling up your lungs as you arch, and exhaling as you curl.
3. While sitting or standing, lift your arms above your head, with your palms facing up. Stretch to make your body as long as possible and envision pushing away the stress.
Move your feet.
Nearly every expert we spoke with suggested taking a spin around the block, whether a heart-pumping jog or a mind-clearing stroll. “I prefer to meditate in motion,” says Oja. “That’s more relaxing for me than sitting still.” Noticing sights and sounds can help you remember there is a world beyond your head.
Quick bursts of intense exercise—even just two minutes—can help your body come back to baseline. Try jumping jacks, jumping rope, running in place for 30 seconds—anything to elevate your heart rate just a little bit. Your body knows how to recover from exercise, and it will have the effect of cooling down its elevated state of anxiety too.
Universal, comfortable, high-tech, versatile. If ever there were a time for El Lewis’s new line of knits, built around wear-anytime (or all-the-time), uniform-style dressing, it’s now. The Decatur native and UGA grad launched O. Studio last fall after years in New York working as a stylist for the likes of Alexander Wang and Barneys. O. (a symbol for coming together) first released two gender-neutral knit sweaters in four colors custom created with Pantone. Easy and minimalist, they’re meant to be incorporated into your outfit every day, for everything from a Zoom meeting to a workout. Lewis plans to expand to a 15-piece wardrobe system of staples—a concept he believes equalizes and democratizes fashion.
“The idea was to create clothing that would unify people,” says Lewis, who was recently dubbed “one to watch” by fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily.
Inspired by sci-fi and athleticism, Lewis, who trained as a gymnast, says the fusion of technology and clothing should let your body move and perform at its best. His sweaters were developed on a computer, woven from durable synthetic threads via a code programmed into a knitting machine. Samples are digitally rendered, and he’s experimenting with 3-D printing. “I saw how elitist and wasteful fashion could be, and it was not inspiring to me anymore,” says Lewis. “We want to always come back to the ideas of unity, innovation, and performance.” O. will launch face masks this fall and new colors for knits this spring. $100–$120
Long before Atlanta was home to Dior or Tom Ford, there was Jeffrey. Perhaps no clothing store has had more of an impact on Atlanta than the luxury boutique founded by Jeffrey Kalinsky 30 years ago, which put Atlanta on the fashion map and introduced designer lines like Manolo Blahnik, Prada, and Dries Van Noten to the city. This year, it closed its doors permanently amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kalinsky grew up ingrained in fashion, helping his father at his Charleston boutique, Bob Ellis Shoes, which closed in 2016 after 66 years in business. Before Jeffrey, well-heeled Atlanta women would drive the five hours to Charleston for posh lines and a perfect fit.
“I didn’t understand at the time why Atlanta didn’t have more in the way of a shoe store,” says Kalinsky. “Atlanta then had Saks and Neiman’s, but”—he says frankly—“their offerings were like a C-plus.”
As a 27-year-old working in New York as the women’s shoe buyer for Barneys, Kalinsky decided to open his own shop. “It was going to be way too expensive to do it in New York,” he says, although he would open a store there years later. “My father wanted me to open in Charlotte. But I knew Atlanta. And I was aware at the time that I was gay, and I wanted to be in a city where I would feel comfortable.”
In 1990, he opened his eponymous store at Phipps Plaza as “the perfect shoe store,” with relatively accessible lines like Stuart Weitzman, luxury labels like Ferragamo, and lesser-known designers like Robert Clergerie and Stéphane Kelian. “It was immediately successful,” says Kalinsky. “It was crazy. It feels like that was the happiest time in my life.” A few years later, he introduced women’s ready-to-wear, bringing in high-fashion labels like Ann Demeulemeester and Marni and, in more recent years, menswear. He proved luxury could thrive in Atlanta and paved the way for other retailers.
Jeffrey was known for stellar, old-school service with personalized attention. “Helping customers was where I got my oxygen,” he says. He revels in the joy of outfitting women for their most special occasions.
Lila Hertz met Kalinsky in his store in the early ’90s. “His favorite thing to do was help customers,” Hertz says. “We became incredibly close.” For Kalinsky, dressing others is an art form. “He has an uncanny eye,” says Hertz.
In 1999, Kalinsky opened Jeffrey New York—the first fashion business in the Meatpacking District, which was then a gritty stretch of slaughterhouses and sex clubs. “It’s what I could afford,” says Kalinsky. But glamorous marquees from Hermès to Apple, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the tourist-slammed High Line followed. Jeffrey became such a symbol of high fashion that the store was immortalized in recurring roasts on Saturday Night Live starring Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell (“This is Jeffrey’s—even our labels have labels,” mocked a kimono-clad Fallon in 2001).
But Jeffrey was about more than clothes. Its annual fashion fundraiser, Jeffrey Fashion Cares, not only became the stylish, star-studded society event of the season but also one of the largest contributors to the Atlanta AIDS Fund and Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta. Combined with Jeffrey Fashion Cares New York, launched in 2002 to benefit LGBTQ+ causes, the events brought in more than $14 million over 26 years. “In 1993, AIDS was very much on a rampage,” says Kalinsky. “There wasn’t a large community-based fundraiser for AIDS at the time. I just thought, as a gay man, this would be a great thing to do.”
Hertz, a breast cancer survivor, cochaired Fashion Cares for nearly 20 years. “It’s remarkable what it turned into,” she says. “We raised so much money for two grassroots organizations that really changed lives.”
In 2005, Nordstrom took a majority ownership of Jeffrey and brought Kalinsky on as director of designer merchandising and eventually as executive VP. Soon after announcing it would close 16 of its department stores across the country due to the pandemic, Nordstrom revealed it would shutter all three Jeffrey boutiques—in Atlanta, New York, and Palo Alto—and that Kalinsky would retire.
“I was heartsick,” says Hertz.
But Kalinsky has no plans to retire from fashion altogether, and he knows what he wants to do next. “I’m not a designer, but I want to create the product for a brand and work on the strategy,” he says. “So, what’s that, creative director? I really understand what people want, what product is sellable; I feel like I understand image; I feel like I would be a good strategist.”
For now, Jeffrey Fashion Cares is in a “pause moment,” although Hertz says the organizers are discussing options for a new fundraising fashion show for its longstanding beneficiaries. Says Kalinsky: “I don’t know if there will ever be another Jeffrey Fashion Cares, but if I were ever in a position again to raise money creatively for HIV, breast cancer, and human rights, I would never ignore that opportunity.”
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