A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover

How Harrison Design transformed this home for its contemporary-loving owners

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A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
This Brookhaven house was built in 1932 and had been renovated before. Interior designer Karen Ferguson notes, “It was lovely and traditional, but that’s not our clients’ taste. It was fun to reimagine the space for them to fit their needs.” Exterior paint is Benjamin Moore’s “Sail Cloth.”

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

Rather than starting from scratch with a custom house, the contemporary-loving owners of this traditional Brookhaven home opted for a modern makeover. “We wanted to keep the architectural charm on the outside that’s part of the neighborhood’s appeal, while mixing it up on the interior in a way that’s totally unexpected,” says Karen Ferguson, interior designer at Harrison Design. As one major example, windows in the front of the house have classic, divided panes, while the rear features a two-story wall of metal windows, with panoramic views toward the backyard.

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
Windows in the front of the house have classic, divided panes, but rear windows stretch across two stories, providing unobstructed views.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
A pivoting front door is surrounded by glass that can go dark or light with a switch. “The entryway is somewhat low-key to allow for a bigger ‘wow’ moment with the stairs,” says architect Robert Tretsch.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
Steel and wood stairs are supported by a block of marble. Above, a digital Recombinism mural was
installed on the ceiling, and the rose gold hanging pendant is the Regency Chain Link Light by Carrie Livingston.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

Harrison Design architect Robert Tretsch modified the front by removing archways and oval windows, painting the exterior off-white, and designing a pivoting glass front door. Inside, wood, glass, slabs of stone, and metal complement an open floor plan throughout. The redo actually started with a kitchen redesign, so its industrial materials became inspiration for the rest of the house. “Every piece of the kitchen is bespoke and meticulously detailed,” says Tretsch. “There’s even a hidden closet behind a steel-clad door.”

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
“Topographies” wallcovering by Calico has the feel of an archaeological journey in the primary bedroom, further highlighted with floor-to-ceiling windows. The custom oak/walnut architectural backdrop is by Block & Chisel. Pendants are by Fendi, and the bed is from Flou.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
White onyx countertops and a heated walnut floor distinguish the primary bath.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
Some of the rooms have intentionally understated lighting, such as flush mount LED lighting, but not the dining room, where a custom chandelier by Danish artisan Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt reflects light in artistic ways. “When we did use decorative lighting, we selected bold, surprising pieces that act as sculpture,” says Ferguson.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

The primary bedroom has its stunning moments, as well. A floor-to-ceiling wall of windows, architectural wallpaper, and a custom steel fireplace give it the sort of drama usually reserved for more public areas. A custom oak-strip architectural backdrop adds warmth as it rises up to and runs onto the ceiling.

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
The steel-and-wood kitchen is nonetheless bright, thanks to an abundance of natural light and the mix of metals for sheen. Custom oak and bird’s-eye maple cabinetry by Block & Chisel is joined by blue quartzite, Fusion Blue from Walker Zanger, and appliances by Wolf, Miele, and Sub-Zero.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
Muhammad Ali wallpaper from the Andy Warhol collection at Flavor Paper provides an inspirational—and unexpected—background for the gym.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
The breakfast area showcases the floating wall seen on the other side in the living room. Leather chairs are from Maxalto.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
The living room’s elegant quartzite flooring is carefully book-matched; the stone came from multiple sources around the country. A Minotti sofa and Ligne Roset daybed add a streamlined look. The floor lamp by Flou also reflects the homeowners’ love of Italian furnishings.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

A 1932 English-style house in Brookhaven gets a modern makeover
The modern poolhouse repeats building materials from the main house, including marble slabs. The dramatic roofline waterfall flows into an infinity-edge pool.

Photography by Emily Followill / Styling by Yvonne Orchard

“They wanted a house that easily transitions from indoors to outside,” says Ferguson. Outdoors, a stunning steel-and-wood pool house features a cantilevered roof with a waterfall tumbling off its edge. Landscape architect Bill Caldwell incorporated specimen topiary trees, an Alaskan cedar tree, and a variety of grasses to complement the striking architecture, adding a touch of whimsy in places to keep the look unexpected.

The house channels European design—which has always mixed modern and historic elements—yet the local artisans and backdrop of maple trees maintain a lovely Atlanta vibe.

Resources | Interior design: Karen Ferguson, ASID Architect: Robert Tretsch, AIA | Both: Harrison Design, harrisondesign.com Landscape architect: Bill Caldwell, bcladesign.com Stairwell Mural: Recombinism through Maharam’s Atlanta showroom, maharam.com. Living room Sofa: Minotti, minottibyddc.com. Daybed: Ligne Roset, ligne-roset.com. Floor lamp: Flou, flou.it/en. Rug: Tai Ping Carpets, taipingcarpets.com. Kitchen Cabinetry: Block & Chisel, blockandchisel.com. Quartzite: Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com. Refrigerator: Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove, subzero-wolf.com. Steamer, grill, electric oven: Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove. Combi–steam oven, microwave, warming drawer: Miele, mieleusa.com. Dining room Table: KGBL, kgblnyc.com. Chandelier: Danish artisan Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt, custom through Harrison Design. Primary bedroom Wallcovering: “Topographies,” Calico, calicowallpaper.com. Oak/walnut architectural backdrop: Block & Chisel. Pendants: Fendi, fendi.com. Bed: Flou. Primary bath Custom cabinets and mirrors: Block & Chisel. Light fixture: Terzani, terzani.com. Gym Wallpaper: Flavor Paper, flavorpaper.com.

This article appears in the Spring 2022 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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