Ranch Redux: An artsy designer embraces her Morningside split-level’s vintage vibe

The modest house proved the perfect canvas for interior designer Beth Kooby’s bohemian sensibilities
Beth Kooby home
Photograph by Jeff Herr

For years the Morningside split-level had sat empty, but its dated look didn’t scare Beth Kooby. In fact, she had been “stalking” it for a while. “I’m more than happy to buy somebody’s dump,” says the interior designer. “I’m a serial remodeler.”

The unloved house in question allowed Beth, who was newly divorced, to keep her children in their same school district. And she appreciated its open, circa-1960s layout. “It was the most modern house in Morningside, which is such a cottagey neighborhood,” Beth says, adding, “I’m not cottagey.”

The modest house proved the perfect canvas for Beth’s bohemian sensibilities, honed from years of living in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. First steps: removing leaded-glass windows, widening openings between rooms, and refinishing floors a deep walnut.

Beth Kooby home
Beth installed the kitchen’s subway tiles herself. She added color and personality with open walnut shelves, a hand-woven rug, indigo curtain panels, and a clock face affixed to the wall.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Beth then remodeled the kitchen, relocating it next to a wall of windows that provides a link to the outdoors. She loves the room’s loft-like, pared-down vibe—subway tiles to the ceiling, chunky wooden shelves, and a modern island—yet colorful draperies from Anthropologie were actually the inspiration for everything. “I knew they would look great along those walls,” says Beth. “And they’re a little bit girly, just like me. I like modern but not stark minimalism.”

The family room and dining area, open to each other, reflect her love of vintage finds and contemporary lines. Round wire sculptures above a midcentury sofa are textural and neutral. “I like the repetition of them, like ripples in the ocean,” she explains. The vintage wicker chairs belonged to her parents.

Beth covered an accent wall in the dining room with a chartreuse grasscloth, which offers visitors an unexpected splash of color when they turn the corner. A photograph of a Mykonos beach is a bit risqué upon close examination, but that bit of mischief suits her just fine. (After all, the two bathrooms she designed for last year’s Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Show House were themed “bad girl” and “good girl.”)

Beth Kooby home
Beth Kooby installed the banquette to accommodate up to 10 people, selecting complementary fabrics in her favorite colors for pillows. The dramatic pink-and-green painting by artist Marco Grassi was a splurge she has never regretted. “It’s the most expensive art I’ve ever bought, but I love it,” says Beth. “I feel like I know her.”

Photograph by Jeff Herr

As a former nurse practitioner who specialized in cancer care, Beth knows what’s important. “All those years with the patients reinforced to me that life should be enjoyed,” says Beth. “I love that when everyone comes in here, they say it’s a happy place.”

Pro resources
Interior design
Beth Kooby Design, bethkoobydesign.com. Kitchen Cabinetry: KraftMaid, kraftmaid.com. Hardware: Matthew Quinn Collection, matthewquinncollection.com. Concrete countertops: Dex Industries, dexindustries.com. Refrigerator, dishwasher, and range: GE Appliances, geappliances.com. Living room Coffee table: CB2, cb2.com. Rug: Restoration Hardware, restorationhardware.com. Dining room Grasscloth: Phillip Jeffries Ltd., phillipjeffries.com. Foyer Console: Anthropologie, anthropologie.com. Son’s room Lamp and hanging swing: Serena and Lily, serenaandlily.com. Master bath Tile: Ann Sacks, annsacks.com.

This article originally appeared in our Spring 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.