A studio, gallery, and vacation rental all combine in this historic Macon home

Contemporary artist Joe Adams found the perfect space for his working studio and gallery—and created an arty retreat on the second floor that he rents via Airbnb

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Joe Adams house Macon
The turn-of-the-century house is close to downtown Macon and still has its original pressed-tin roof. Joe came up with the one-of-a-kind front door as an homage to the 20th century sculptor Louise Nevelson—and the artistic viewpoint inside.

Photograph by Rustic White

Contemporary artist Joe Adams has restored several historic houses in his hometown of Macon, and this one proved to be the perfect space for his working studio and a gallery. On the second floor, he created an arty retreat that he rents via Airbnb, decorated with modern furniture and his abstract paintings alongside antique finds and Victorian woodwork.

Joe Adams house Macon
After studying art at Mercer University, artist Joe Adams taught for a while, then moved on to other businesses. He only came back to painting 15 years ago at the recommendation of his wife, Evelyn.

Photograph by Rustic White

What was the house like when you bought it?
The house was built around 1900 and still has the original pressed tin roof, which is painted terra cotta. All of the ceilings still have the original bead board, and all of the mantelpieces are intact. At some point, it had been made into an attorneys’ office but fortunately had not been butchered up. It contains all of the original architectural features. I knew I could get historic tax credits to rehabilitate the building. For me, it was ideally situated, since I live in a downtown loft and this building is three blocks away, close to downtown restaurants and businesses.

Joe Adams house Macon
The main floor of this Macon house serves as his studio and an art gallery, with an apartment upstairs. Joe’s work is also sold in Atlanta at Jennifer Balcos Gallery and Mathews Furniture

Photograph by Rustic White

Joe Adams house Macon
Painted, glossy white floors and a dark brown-gray ceiling are the backdrop for the mix of old and new. The sofa and lamps are from Swoox, the breakfast table from CB2. Visitors are welcome to pop in Joe’s studio while staying at the Airbnb and buy art at an insider’s discount.

Photograph by Rustic White

How does the layout work? And what is the story with that memorable front door?
The apartment and my studio share the original foyer, with stairs to the second floor. My studio consists of four rooms and a back porch, and the front room is set up as a gallery. The front door I treated like a collage of wood and metal, nailing or screwing in various architectural pieces, then painting it turquoise with a burnt umber glaze on top.

What was your goal for the apartment’s interior design?
I collaborated with a building designer, Paul Rogers, and the design of the interior is very eclectic, a combination of modern and traditional. The paintings are all mine, and there are touches of tribal art. My favorite feature is the large Corinthian capital console table in the upstairs landing, which fits my love of history. I wanted to have either black or white painted floors and settled on white for a clean and bright look. They had been painted in the past, so we just primed them and then painted them with a porch-type paint.

Joe Adams house Macon
The renovated kitchen in the upstairs apartment feels modern and European, with an added bonus of a painted backsplash by Joe himself. A layer of glass covers the abstract design to guard against splashes.

Photograph by Rustic White

Joe Adams house Macon
A Corinthian capital serves as a welcome console in the landing, elegant with its high ceilings and original trim. “I wanted the upstairs apartment to be modern with elements of interesting art and architecture,”says Joe, who also works as a real estate agent and often has access to architectural salvage.

Photograph by Rustic White

Another fun feature is the painted backsplash.
Paul designed the cabinets with a midcentury vibe, and it was his idea for me to paint the backsplash. The cabinetmaker made a plywood panel that he mounted to the wall. I primed the wood, painted on it in place, then had the cabinets and hood installed. I didn’t plan what the design would be in advance, but I just wanted it colorful. I used acrylic paint along with some paper collage in it, and the dots were created with a stencil and spray paint. The final painting isn’t coated with a protective layer, but I did install a glass backsplash below the cabinets and hood.

Joe Adams house Macon
A floating bed sits in a specially designed niche, a way to make the most of master bedroom space.

Photograph by Rustic White

You’ve spent your whole life here. Why is Macon a hidden gem?
Macon is often overlooked but has so much to offer. There are so many beautiful historic districts, and the downtown is a very happening place. Mercer University is a major player, and the city has a rich music history. Macon is so much more than what is seen from the interstate.

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

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