An Atlanta designer hits all the right notes with this midcentury renovation

Atlanta designer Mark Williams renovates a midcentury gem with clean lines and glam finishes in the country music capital

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Mark Williams house
This late-’60s built house is very much of the Brady Bunch era, says designer Mark Williams (right) with husband Steve Summers, who is Dolly Parton’s longtime creative director. “We chose white and gray for the exterior of the house because it’s calm and unassuming,” he says. The bright pop of yellow for the front door was a nod to cheery.

Photograph by Emily Followill

When Atlanta architectural and interior designer Mark Williams headed to see Dolly Parton perform at the Fox Theatre 12 years ago, he had no idea that a chance meeting with Dolly’s creative director, Steve Summers, would change his life. Five years later, the two married, and Mark now splits his time between Atlanta (where he has a home in Midtown and an office at ADAC) and the country music capital.

The home sits on more than an acre, with a backyard overlooking a creek and acres of parks and greenspace.

Photograph by Emily Followill

Mark Williams house
A wood-topped table by Oly Studios can expand to 10 feet. Mark selected the iconic “Handkerchief Chair” by Massimo Vignelli as lightweight but comfortable seating for the dining area. A Jonathan Adler light fixture fits the era of the house.

Photograph by Emily Followill

Mark Williams house
A large blue piece of art from Bobo Intriguing Objects is bold, but the adjacent gallery wall of collected works gets points for sentimental value; Mark and Steve carefully purchased and placed art to represent travels and other occasions in their lives. The rug is from Moattar.

Photograph by Emily Followill

When the pair spotted the circa-1969 home just outside of Nashville, it was a mess but had obvious potential. “We loved the very original midcentury feel to it,” says Mark. “It’s more of a ‘California Style’ ranch, which is not common in the Nashville area, so we jumped on it.” They stripped the structure down to the studs and rebuilt the back, doubling the size of the house. The former garage is now a sleek kitchen, with a custom stainless-steel wall for appliances and storage and white Silestone countertops. The view took center stage: The U-shaped house looks onto a creek and the couple’s acre-plus woodland setting, with a string of parks beyond their property.

Mark Williams house
An Ikea kitchen with Silestone countertops is classically modern. Appliances by Sub-Zero Wolf are integrated into the stainless-steel wall. Colorful counter stools from Modernica and a vintage store sign originally from Sweden liven up the white space.

Photograph by Emily Followill

Mark Williams house
Steve, with help from Mark, constructed the tall blue headboard for the master bedroom. They then added texture and visual interest with a vintage leather chair, and lamp and art from Bobo Intriguing Objects.

Photograph by Emily Followill

Mark Williams house
Porcelain floor and wall tiles by Crossville have the look of wood. The nature-surrounded master bath includes a glass shower and cabinetry by Ikea.

Photograph by Emily Followill

Steve started as a singer and dancer at Dollywood 25 years ago. He now oversees everything visual for the superstar, including her sets, album covers, and iconic fashions—but he largely deferred to Mark for the design at their own house. “I thought I had great style until I married him,” he jokes, adding that he may have had a hand in upgrading Mark’s wardrobe. A special gallery wall of artwork reflects both of their tastes.

Mark loves that the house evokes a golden age of entertaining; Dolly herself is a sometime guest. “The time this style of house was made popular—an optimistic postwar America—was when families and neighbors socialized a lot, before mobile phones,” he says. “It was an era of cocktail parties and backyard barbecues. We wanted to be sure the house maintained that spirit.”

Resources | Interior Designer: Mark Williams, Mark Williams Design Associates, mw-da.com; Living room Wall color: Sherwin-Williams “Pure White,”
sherwin-williams.com. Sofas: Donghia, donghia.com. Side chairs: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, mgbwhome.com. Ottoman: Custom through Bjork Studio, bjorkstudio.com. Coffee table: Custom through Skylar Morgan Furniture, skylarmorganfurniture.com. Floor lamp: West Elm, westelm.com. Rug: Moattar, moattar.com. Bird painting: Paige Harvey, paigeharveyart.com. Dining room Table: Oly Studio, olystudio.com. Chairs: Knoll, knoll.com. Light fixture: Jonathan Adler, jonathanadler.com. Kitchen Cabinetry: Ikea, ikea.com. Countertops: Silestone, silestone.com. Floor and wall tiles: Crossville, crossvilleinc.com. Appliances: Sub-Zero Wolf, subzero-wolf.com. Stools: Modernica, modernica.net. Sign: Bobo Intriguing Objects, bobointriguingobjects.com. Porch Accessories: West Elm. Chairs and table: Ikea with custom stain. Master bedroom Wooden chest: Restoration Hardware, rh.com. Bedding: West Elm. Lamp and art: Bobo Intriguing Objects. Master bath Cabinetry: Ikea. Porcelain tiles: Crossville.

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

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