Interior mixology: Helen Davis blends classics with vintage home finds

A former apparel executive’s Buckhead loft is like a cleverly coordinated outfit

Helen Harbin Davis spent years in the fashion world, including stints in New York and Florence, so it’s not surprising that her decorating style takes a cue from the apparel industry. “When I worked in fashion, the people I looked up to mixed high and low—expensive and not expensive,” says Davis. “And they wore things that were personal, that tell a story.”

In her own loft, the fashionista turned interior designer has arranged a colorful mélange of items. A framed Andy Warhol print depicting women’s pumps (an homage to her years selling shoes in New York) serves as a focal point for the living room. And there are many of her trademark recycled flea-market finds, like black lacquered end tables (formerly white), and midcentury dining chairs ($100 for the set) now reupholstered in red velvet.

Her place has a lot of black, partly because the darker shade fits the masculine look of the brick-walled loft, but also because, for both clothing and rooms, basic black is a classic. “You never get tired of black,” Davis says. A black-and-white Ikea rug was a bargain, yet it looks identical to a more expensive version.
She also points out that chez Davis is a testament to her love of metallic finishes. “I’ve always been drawn to metals,” she says. “Brass is hot right now, but it’s okay to mix it with other metals.”

Davis grew up in a family of physicians in Rome, Georgia, but decided to pursue more artistic goals: first an art history degree from Southern Methodist University in Texas, then her years with various fashion houses, and later, through word of mouth, a business selling repurposed furnishings. After she partnered with online retailer One Kings Lane, one of her customers asked for decorating help, and a new career began.