Liza Bryan Tackles Art

For interiors as for paintings, beauty lies in composition

Photograph by Emily Followill

Liza Bryan likes to create interiors where fine antiques and carefully selected furnishings are the centerpieces, so imagine the designer’s disappointment upon hearing a new client say, “I don’t like furniture, and I don’t like antiques.”
Fortunately, the client added, “But I do like art.” So began Bryan’s sweet collaboration with a Buckhead couple whose astute acquisitions include works by renowned artists such as Todd Murphy, Benny Andrews, the Moulthrop family, and even Picasso—yes, that Picasso.
Bryan and her clients developed a mutually beneficial relationship, where each educated the other about their passions. Bryan realized right away what the focal points would be. “When you’re designing a room, you can only have a few stars, and the art is the star for this house,” she says. “There are so many givens with the art that, to a certain extent, the rest falls into place.”
Architecture also played an important role. The townhouse’s architectural elements complemented the less-is-more decorating philosophy, with walls unadorned by molding, a subtle coffered ceiling, arched doorways, and an elegant custom iron banister by Charles Calhoun. Atlanta architect Peter Block created this quiet neighborhood, known as the Enclave on Peachtree, to resemble homes on the streets of Paris. The European feel appealed to Bryan’s clients and fit the contemporary look they desired.
Bryan sought ways to add warmth to the more streamlined aesthetic. “Modern design can be so predictable,” she says. “We knew we didn’t want a lot of color, but we wanted to add visual interest in other ways.” The living room sofa and chairs are mostly neutral to fit the cool gray color palette, for instance, but the designer chose a textured linen, then added pillows with a graphic Manuel Canovas print.
In the dining room, far right, Bryan selected a tea paper for the ceiling and a sisal rug for the floor, both adding depth to the clean-lined space. A colorful ceramic bowl by Jack Moulthrop has a familiar shape but puts a different twist on the Moulthrop heritage. It and a Benny Andrews painting that hangs here are two of the homeowners’ favorite pieces. Bryan selected a classic round table and upholstered chairs to allow the art—and the sculptural chandelier—to shine.
Interior Design Liza Bryan Interiors, 425 Peachtree Hills Avenue, Suite 29-A, 404-848-0588
Architecture Peter Block Architects, 2300 Peachtree Road, Suite C-201, 404-352-2422,
This article originally appeared in our November 2010 issue.