Historic architecture and transitional interiors can be an exciting pair, bringing new energy to old bones. Case in point: this 1920s Druid Hills house, where the design-build team at HammerSmith created a comfortable, livable family home—with some modern surprises thrown in for fun. “We want clients to use every room, every day,” says Allison McConaughey, interior designer and business partner with her husband, Warner. “And we also wanted it to be unexpected from what you usually see in Druid Hills.”
The house sits on a wide street originally laid out by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to accommodate streetcars. Arched windows and an offset door are hallmarks of this English Classical–style house, which makes the first step inside all the more stunning. A three-dimensional wall of concrete tile in the entryway greets visitors with a spa-like simplicity; a sculptural console made of reclaimed wood is the only furniture. “The entry before had been cramped with built-in benches for shoes and hooks for coats—not a good first impression,” Allison says. “We decided to have a somewhat dramatic entry, something to set the stage.”
Allison kept the adjacent living room more traditional but refreshed it by painting the original fireplace mantel a soft blue-black and choosing a blue velvet sofa and two Barcelona chairs as stylish anchors. A casual dining room includes geometric print–upholstered chairs, updated built-ins with a window seat, and an unassuming light fixture made of mercury glass.
The design team worked around existing load-bearing walls to update the kitchen while keeping the general footprint the same. “The kitchen reflects the homeowners’ love of French industrial style,” Allison says. “The island cabinet is a French blue for pop, and the marble was a splurge, but we used it sparingly, to stay within budget yet make a big impact.” A copper vent hood and banquette table with metal casters continue the European approach of mixed metals and materials.
A swanky upstairs master bath could easily belong in a modern high-rise, but its use of classic touches such as marble floor tiles and Roman shades fits the home’s original era. The clients’ love of blue is continued with connecting geometric tiles as a vanity backsplash and in the shower. A floating white vanity and hanging pendants make the large room seem even more spacious. A previous owner had already converted this space (originally a sleeping porch, Allison surmises) into a large master bath.
Allison and Warner work on a lot of projects in Druid Hills—their own former house, published in Elle Décor, is nearby, as well as another home currently under renovation for their family—so they understand the smart space-planning and careful decorating involved with historic houses. “People these days want it all: comfortable living and modern ideas mixed in with the old,” Allison says.
Design-Build HammerSmith, Inc., 404-377-1021, hammersmith.net
Foyer Tile: Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com. Console: Bungalow, bungalowhome.com. Lighting: Brummel pendant, Tech Lighting, techlighting.com.
Living room Sofa: Mitchell-Gold, mgbwhome.com. Side tables and lamps: Stanton Home Furnishings, stantonhomefurnishings.com. Coffee table: South of Market, southofmarket.biz.
Dining room Lighting: Circa Lighting, circalighting.com
Kitchen Cabinetry paint: Sherwin-Williams “Black Pepper,” sherwin-williams.com
Breakfast room Table: Custom by HammerSmith, hammersmith.net. Lighting: Circa Lighting.
Powder room Vanity: Custom by HammerSmith. Fixtures: Kohler, kohler.com. Sink: Barclay, barclayproducts.com.
Deck Furniture: West Elm, westelm.com
Family room Fireplace: Francois & Co., francoisandco.com
Daughter’s bedroom Headboard fabric: Kravet, kravet.com
Master bedroom Side table: Stanton Home Furnishings.
Master bathroom Tile: Walker Zanger. Tub: MTI Baths.
This article appears in our Summer 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.