Sally Singletary loves interior design. She appreciates a pretty window treatment, a fine antique, and a dramatic light fixture. But, for her, home furnishings will always be the supporting cast. The true stars are original artworks. “Some people want art to blend into the background, and others want their art to be a focal point. I definitely lean more toward the latter,” says Sally, who recently moved back to Atlanta with her husband, Ross, and four children. “I’ve always bought art that I love—not art to match the fabrics in a room.”
Interior designer Heather Dewberry worked with the Singletarys on three previous houses before tackling this one, so she knows—and appreciates—their philosophy. “We didn’t see any of the art in advance,” says Heather, half of the design duo Huff-Dewberry. “Sally hangs everything after we’re done.” She likes that the homeowners want their home to feel spontaneous and art-driven instead of letting fabrics and patterns dominate.
Their new abode, a Dutch Colonial–style house, was built in 1927. Fortunately for Sally and Ross, it had recently been updated—and had even been featured in Traditional Home magazine. “We’ve renovated in the past, and I was ready to take a break,” says Sally. “This house retains the irreplaceable character of an older home while having the modern amenities of a newer one: nice closets, bathrooms, and kitchen.”
The house’s move-in-ready state meant the homeowners could focus on decorating. Painting many rooms Benjamin Moore’s “Swiss Coffee” was a first step. “This white has enough pigment so it’s not too stark, and it works well with art,” Heather says. Similarly, she relied on ivory upholstered pieces throughout the house to create a neutral background for the family’s impressive collection of paintings. Sally grew up in a family of serious contemporary art collectors, and the Singletarys own works by well-known artists such as Willem de Kooning and Frank Stella.
Although the couple gravitate toward blue and green, Heather expanded their palette in the dining room, adding a lacquered ceiling and draperies in lavender. “The window treatments from Lee Jofa were the spark for this room, with their graceful embroidery and the perfect shade of lavender—not too vivid,” says Heather. “Acrylic rods and brass rings added some glamour.” The ceiling was painted in a custom color to match the window treatments, and even the rug has hints of lavender and blue.
Symmetrical ivory sofas and peacock blue window treatments in the living room were selected before Sally added the vibrant abstract art. “We were inspired by richer, deeper colors than people normally use in living rooms,” says Heather. “We fell in love with the peacock blue Schumacher taffeta for the window treatments first, then accented it with the cream Samuel & Sons braid.”
Although the Singletarys lean toward traditional furniture, they prefer modern art. Over the years, Sally and Ross have enjoyed discovering emerging artists as well as purchasing works by more established names. In the Singletary house, art gets moved often, and there’s always room for more. “You do have to consider size and where a piece could fit in your house,” says Sally, “but if you buy art you love, you can always find a spot for it.”
This article originally appeared in our Summer 2017 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.