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.
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.
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.
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.
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.