This stately Georgian-style house with the red door often attracts the eye of architecture fans—even if they don’t realize it was designed by historic architect Neel Reid. But the house also gets high praise from homeowner Donna Heilman for livability. She and her husband, Johnny, were somewhat familiar with Reid’s classic exteriors but appreciate his talents even more on the inside. “You can walk in and tell it’s his design by things like the high ceilings and molding, but the house is truly grand and functional both,” Donna says. “We love and use every room.”
They were drawn to the circa-1914 Druid Hills home for the same reasons other people appreciate the neighborhood: curving streets and diverse horticulture in six linear parks (designed by another revered name: Frederick Law Olmsted), deep wooded lots, and large, European-style homes. The Heilmans didn’t want the house to be a stuffy shrine to the past, however. On any given day, the kids might be taking ukulele lessons in the living room, splashing in the pool, or playing games on the sun porch, so interior design needed to be friendly and fresh.
The Heilmans enlisted Lathem Gordon and Cate Dunning, the interior design duo behind Gordon Dunning, who gutted the kitchen and bathrooms but kept most of the traditional layout intact. They selected mostly traditional furniture to honor the surroundings but weren’t afraid to take risks. “We used color to shake things up,” says Lathem. “When we originally did a walk-through with the Heilmans, Donna said, ‘I know the eye is supposed to have a place to rest, but not in my house.’”
Zebra wallpaper, stately chairs upholstered in chinoiserie fabric, and pops of teal and turquoise fill the house, exemplifying this bold direction. “This whole project was all about striking the balance between fun and sophisticated,” says Cate. “The most serious of antiques needed to have the brightest and freshest abstracts nearby and vice versa.”
Donna and Johnny took the leap to merge fine architecture with fresh decor, but they give credit to their famous architect and the fun-loving but serious designers for the rest. Says Donna: “It takes professional people to tell your story.”
Interior design Lathem Gordon and Cate Dunning, GordonDunning, gordondunning.com
Sunroom Table: Dunes and Duchess, dunesandduchess.com. Chairs: Lee Industries, Upcountry Home, ADAC, upcountryhome.com. Sofa: Bernhardt, bernhardt.com, upholstered in Duralee fabric, ADAC, duralee.com. Chandelier: Ro Sham Beaux, ro-sham-beaux.com.
Living room Wing chairs: Lee Industries, leeindustries.com, upholstered in Jim Thompson fabric, ADAC, jimthompsonfabrics.com. Coffee table: Oly Studio, olystudio.com. Sofa: Bernhardt, upholstered in Romo fabric, ADAC, romo.com. Draperies: Brunschwig & Fils, ADAC, kravet.com and Drape98, drape98.com. Table lamps: Bunny Williams, Lee Jofa, ADAC, kravet.com. Painting over mantel: Crysta Luke, crystaluke.com.
Dining room Chairs: Ballard Designs, 1235 Chattahoochee Avenue, ballarddesigns.com, in Benjamin Moore “Poolside,” benjaminmoore.com. Dining tablecloth: Robert Allen, robertallen.com, made by Home Accent Inc., homeaccentinteriors.com
Foyer Wallpaper: Thibaut, thibautdesign.com.
Kitchen Counter stools: Bernhardt, upholstered in Schumacher, ADAC, fschumacher.com. Roman shades fabric: Brunschwig & Fils. Pendants: Global Views, globalviews.com.
Breakfast room Chairs: Made Goods, ADAC, madegoods.com. Light fixture: Taylor Burke Home, taylorburkehome.com. Pillow fabrics: Brunschwig & Fils.
Master bedroom Bed: Redford House, redfordhouse.com. Bedding: Schumacher. Throw pillow: Lulu DK, luludk.com. Chaise: Gabby, gabbyhome.com, upholstered in Beacon Hill fabric, beaconhill.com. Art: Lucy Reiser through Anne Irwin Fine Art, 690 Miami Circle, anneirwinfineart.com. Lamp: Robert Abbey, robertabbeylightingstore.com. Roman shades: Kari Fisher Designs, karifisherdesigns.com.
This article appears in our Spring 2019 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.