When John and Greer Tirrill discovered a 1930s Buckhead estate by famed Southern architect Lewis Crook, they saw its beautiful bones, beyond some obvious quirks—sloping upstairs showers, a dungeon-like basement, and a dilapidated cabin on the 2.3-acre lot among them. To achieve a livable, family-friendly home that both paid homage to its history and worked for modern living, they embarked on a significant renovation with the help of architect Caroline Reu Rolader and interior designer Alice Cramer.
“It was major,” says Alice, who had worked with the Tirrills on a previous house. “People lived differently back then.” Over the course of the project, the team reconfigured the main level for better flow, created dual master bathrooms, and reduced the upstairs bedrooms from four to three to allow for larger bathrooms and closets, all while preserving the majority of the original structure and footprint. The result is a light-filled property with ample space for the family to entertain, relax, and enjoy their extensive collection of art and family heirlooms.
At first glance, the living room looks formal, but Alice designed it to be comfortable and not overly precious, with a casual-feeling shag rug and durable fabrics. The custom club chair and ottoman are by RJones, the plush sofa is Charles Stewart, and a stylish Julian Chichester cabinet conceals the television. “I wanted to make this room feel inviting, like you could sit down and watch a movie without damaging something,” says Alice.
Arguably the most dramatic room in the house, the library-turned–dining room serves as both an entertaining space and a gallery of sorts, showcasing a sculpture entitled Confluence by metalsmith and friend John Medwedeff and a family collection of engraved silver. The high-gloss, moss-hued pine paneling makes the room a statement piece in itself.
Built during the same era as the house, the detached 500-square-foot cabin—called the “scout house” because former owners once hosted Boy Scout meetings there—exemplifies the Tirrills’ vision. Though it was nearly falling in, they worked to save its original windows, pine walls, and wooden floors hidden under asbestos-filled tiles and added a small kitchen and bathroom. Outfitted with period-appropriate vintage furnishings, it now serves as a guesthouse as well as a retreat for Greer, who is writing her second book. Says Alice of her clients: “They were patient, trusting, and saw the property for what it could be.”