Despite grand architecture and a prime location on a picturesque Buckhead street, this Mediterranean-style house didn’t make the cut on Amy Brown’s first round of house-hunting. “It has beautiful bones, but we thought it was maybe too much money and too much work,” she says. Six months later, Amy and her husband, Kenton, took a second look and decided the bold interiors were worth the extra effort.
The drama begins just inside the front door, which opens into expansive living spaces on both sides, each with multiple archways and exotic columns. The setting was a siren call to the interior designer, who was eager to add her own take to the ’20s-era home.
The original architect is unknown, although Amy found records indicating she was female and may have designed similar houses in the area. The Browns hired Chris Hamilton of Atlanta-based Dovetail Craftsmen, who happens to hail from Amy’s hometown of Geneseo, New York, to update the home. “Chris gave me books about Neel Reid and Philip Trammell Shutze to study, and drove us around Atlanta to educate me regarding the Atlanta architectural vernacular of the 1920s and 1930s, so we could get it right,” Amy recalls. “I love history and old homes, so this process was heaven for me.” Consequently, some 1980s additions were removed, such as an oak bookcase in the living room and various crown moldings.
The house’s upscale pedigree didn’t prevent Amy from putting her own light-hearted spin on the interiors. After all, this is a woman who regularly throws Broadway sing-alongs, refers to her husband as “my physics cowboy,” and loves the chaos of children and dogs. For every sophisticated element in a room, there’s usually a less-serious counterpart. For example, in the dining room, a beaded, “beachy” chandelier holds court above an antique French table. Chenille sofas and oil portraits of beloved family members coexist in the family room with an oversized chalkboard and Arteriors’ happy Zanadoo light fixture.
Amy embraced the Mediterranean vibe by choosing light fixtures and textiles to evoke a bit of Morocco—without being too themey. Metal pendants and an Ikat-patterned ottoman bring a touch of Old World to the front parlor. Amy painted the room a unifying “White Dove” by Benjamin Moore to allow the architecture to stand out: arched double doors and niches, curvy columns, and an elaborate cast concrete fireplace. “I floated the seating arrangement in the middle of the room because the fireplace and windows don’t line up at all,” the designer explains. “I had to go rogue and declare my own center of the room based on the ottoman.”
Amy’s goal was to create a home for an active, young family, mixed with a healthy respect for the architecture. “I’d like to think my use of modern art and casual materials make what could have been a pretty imposing house feel warm and welcoming,” she says. “I guess I would say the house has regal bones and a playful heart.”
Kitchen remodeling: Emily Robbins at Schuon Kitchens
This article originally appeared in our Fall 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.