A modern makeover brings striking contrast to a Queen Anne Victorian in Grant Park

Alison Michaels-Fandel kept the original fretwork, doors, mantels, and transom windows and reused materials whenever possible

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Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
This Queen Anne Victorian near Oakland Cemetery retains its original architectural features, including the decorative railings and spindlework. The potted cacti bask outside as many months of the year as possible.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
Alison Michaels-Fandel (with Francis) grew up in East Cobb with parents who influenced her artistic passions: “Things were always being renovated and decorated and just happening,” she says of her upbringing. A fine arts degree and long stint at Anthropologie honed her skills. Now, she works on the design and decor for about two to five full-house projects a year.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Alison Michaels-Fandel isn’t likely to do what everyone else is doing, even if the rest of the world eventually catches up to her style. This creative spirit (a realtor, remodeler-designer, and founder of Shoppe Native, an invite-only shopping club) lacquered her kitchen black long before it became a trend and filled the house with modern furniture and sculptural plants. She and her husband, Derek, a fellow creative, bought the circa-1892 Queen Anne Victorian in 2017 and are only the second family to live in the home.

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
Alison and her husband, Derek, added a deck for a scenic view of the backyard. Modern outdoor furniture from Room & Board fits the black-and-white scheme.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
The wraparound porch provides a pleasant perch overlooking the street in Grant Park. Greenery, from cacti to banana trees, is a defining feature of the home.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
Alison and Derek transformed the overgrown backyard into this chic area, featuring a mix of rocks, turf, and plants. The little black shed is Derek’s furniture shop and mill. When he’s not away working on oil fields in Alaska, he’s pursuing art projects, mainly in metal.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Alison calls herself a modern traditionalist because she has a deep love for old architecture and the patina that goes with it, but revels in a contemporary perspective. Working within guidelines for a historic tax credit (which means keeping walls intact), the couple removed some interior doors and raised entryways, bringing in more light and providing a better flow. They kept the original fretwork, doors, mantels, and transom windows and reused materials whenever possible. They gave the heart-pine floors a whitewashed stain to make the cozy floorplan feel more open and modern.

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
The entry hall is painted Sherwin-Williams “Pure White” (the same as the exterior), with the original heart-pine floors wearing a white stain made by Bona. Alison kept the doors a darker stain for contrast. Elaborate fretwork is original to the house. The large oil painting of a man is by her husband, Derek. The chairs are vintage.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
The living room’s bay window offers plenty of sunlight for the collection of plants, many of which come from the Victorian Atlanta at Ponce City Market. The leather sofa and marble plinth table are from RH, and the patterned rug is from Dear Keaton.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
Vintage pieces fill the office-drawing room, where Alison works with a view of the street. A scene captured at DragonCon by photographer and friend Audra Melton fits the quirky spirit of the room.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
The updated powder room is covered with a vintage-style print from Walnut Wallpaper. The mirror is from West Elm.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Furnishings and art are stylish and often unexpected. “I tend to enjoy things with a story, a meaning, and some rich history,” says Alison. “The cactus on my porch is 27 years old, and the jade is the first plant my mother gifted me 15 years ago when I built my first home.” Skateboards are hung on the wall like art but also used by Derek almost daily.

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
A custom dining table by Atlanta artisan Kendrick Anderson is made of bleached ash and shows off the wood grain. Large pendants from CB2 fit Alison’s informal approach to design.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
Skateboards are mounted as art throughout the house (as in the breakfast room) but also used regularly by Derek, who often hits the Old Fourth Ward skate park.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
To update the kitchen, Alison and Derek gave the cabinets a coat of black lacquer, added honed black granite countertops from Stone Connection, and chose brass hardware from Signature Hardware for contrast. They installed counter-to-ceiling tiles from Emser Tile and a contemporary fan. Alison decorated the display shelves with ceramics by local artisan Charlotte Smith.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Alison gravitates toward a Scandinavian aesthetic in simple black and white, with plenty of texture. A macrame hanging and a marble coffee table that coexist with ornate fireplaces and 128-year-old heart pine—that’s the combo she adores. “I like a minimalistic palette, but I also love all those historic details,” she says.

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
Walls painted a moody “Tricorn Black” from Sherwin-Williams cozy up the master bedroom, featuring the original fireplace. Sculptural vintage lamps flank a wooden bed from Bed Down, with pillows from Dixon Rye.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
The couple loves contemporary photography; this piece in the breakfast room by Los Angeles–based Steven Clouse depicts a scene in White Sands, New Mexico.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Queen Anne Victorian Grant Park
The airy guest bedroom features a bed from RH, a lamp and nightstand from Anthropologie, and a cozy throw sourced from Morocco.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

RESOURCES | Interior designer: Alison Michaels-Fandel, adamsrealtors.com; contractor: Frank Klimes, 404-427-8135; landscape design: Howkins Landscape Design, howkinslandscapeanddesign.com. Exterior paint: Sherwin-Williams “Pure White,” sherwin-williams.com. Hallway Floor stain: Bona “Nordic White Seal,” bona.com. Living room Sofa and marble table: Restoration Hardware, rh.com. Rug: Dear Keaton, dearkeaton.com. Plants: the Victorian Atlanta, thevictorianatlanta.com. Office DragonCon photography: Audra Melton, audramelton.com. Dining room Table: Kendrick Anderson, kendrickanderson.com. Pendants: CB2, cb2.com. Rug: West Elm, westelm.com. Large mirror: Stanton Home Furnishings, stantonhomefurnishings.com. Kitchen Matte black faucet: Brizo, brizo.com. Ceramics: Charlotte Smith, charlottesmithstudios.com. Master bedroom Wall paint: Sherwin-Williams “Tricorn Black.” Bed: Bed Down, beddown.com. Pillows: Dixon Rye, dixonrye.com. Ceiling fixture: West Elm. Photo of girl playing chess: the Citizenry, the-citizenry.com. Master bath Light fixtures: Cedar and Moss, cedarandmoss.com. Powder room Wallpaper: Walnut Wallpaper, walnutwallpaper.com. Mirror: West Elm

This article appears in our Spring 2020 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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