Designed by Neel Reid, this circa-1914 Druid Hills abode is a vibrant family home

"The house is truly grand and functional.”

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Neel Reid Druid Hills home

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

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.”

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
The Heilman family includes Donna, Patterson (11), Jessie (9), and Johnny. Throughout the house, framed blueprints and renderings depict the house’s original design.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
A lacquered pink table from Connecticut-based Dunes and Duchess is home base for the sunroom. (Interior designers Lathem Gordon and Cate Dunning call it the “ladies’ lounge.”) The striking beaded chandelier from Ro Sham Beaux feels both modern and nostalgic.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
An antique rug anchors the living room, rich with original millwork. Jim Thompson fabrics, a painting by Decatur artist Crysta Luke, and a whimsical lamp from Bunny Williams add vivid pattern to the room.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

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.

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
Bamboo chairs found at Ballard Designs Backroom wear a new coat of “Poolside” by Benjamin Moore to liven the dining room. An antique dining table is softened with a custom tablecloth made with Robert Allen fabric. “Each room had to have equal scoops of vanilla and sprinkles to keep it balanced,” says Cate.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
A Gabby chaise with Beacon Hill mohair and a chic floor lamp from Robert Abbey set the tone for a cozy reading area in the master. Two local artists contributed to the vignette: The large-scale painting is by Lucy Reiser, and the Roman shades are by fabric designer Kari Fisher.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

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.’”

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
A family chest Donna has used since college has sentimental value and serves as storage in the master bathroom, which was once a sleeping porch. She jokes: “The master bath became the gallery for things I like that other people don’t like as much.” The pilaster is original to the house.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
“Lighting was a fun punctuation mark in some of the simpler spaces,” says Lathem. The geometric light fixture is from Taylor Burke Home. A custom-made table of wood and marble adds gravitas to the lively shades of teal, lavender, and mint around it.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
Bedding in the master bedroom features an Asian-inspired fabric by Schumacher. Bedside tables are by Gabby.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

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.”

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
The designers eliminated a large walk-in pantry to expand the kitchen and add a butler’s pantry, bar, and windows. Brass-toned pendants from Global Views warm up the white cabinets with help from custom Roman shades and turquoise counter stools.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

Neel Reid Druid Hills home
The lagoon-shaped pool is a big hit with the family, enjoyed year-round for swimming or as a focal point from the first-floor windows. The Heilmans keep it uncovered throughout the year and are known to do an occasional “polar bear challenge” in wintertime.

Photograph by Anthony-Masterson

Resources
Interior design
 Lathem Gordon and Cate Dunning, GordonDunning, gordondunning.com
Landscaping tiltingwindmill.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.

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