This was an incredibly heavy renovation. This is a 1950s ranch home that had a particularly high roof, which was useful in our case. The homeowners are very sentimental about the house and did not want to tear down and build new, but they preferred French architecture. So in this house, before, there was a series of very odd rooms, you would come into a tiny entry, you could barely squeeze by one another and then there was a massive living room. To the right was a tiny dining room that could barely seat six people. Behind the dining room was a kitchen and off the kitchen was a very narrow long family room that wasn’t suitable for much living and had no access to light. Behind that was a screened in porch. There was another odd space, or hallway circled back to the entryway. In the middle of the home was a staircase that divided the home in half and obstructed it from having any real depth. On the opposite side of the home, there were four tiny bedrooms and two bathrooms. Downstairs was a basement and upstairs are attic spaces.
One thing that was nice about the property was its backyard which you couldn’t see from any of the rooms, was enormous, rolling down a hill, about 300 feet to a gorgeous sunken stone terrace that was very large. Beyond that, there is, even more woods making this property a very large lot in the middle of Atlanta, GA, in a very urban area making it very unique for the area.
We first wanted to arrange this house significantly. We first rotated the stairs 90 degrees so that it would run along the entryway vs. dividing the house. We made the living room smaller allowing us to add more entry space to the entryway and increasing the size of the dining room. We then took the kitchen which was in the back corner and moved it to the middle of the house so it would be right behind the living room and opened it up an out into a sunroom/family room. Now the kitchen and family rooms were centralized that had glass on all sides that looked out into this wonderful backyard view.
In the kitchen, we created a cleaner aesthetic with concealed storage/cabinetry. Between the dining and kitchen, we installed a beautiful, simple bar, connecting the entertainment flows from the family and kitchen areas to the dining and living areas. By reorganizing the spaces, it allowed us much better proportions, utilization of spaces and flow between rooms.
The old little hallway behind the entry was converted to the lacquered library that was large enough to have a central console, a beautiful round table in the middle and antique rug. We also added French doors and a French plant balcony at the end looking out on this beautiful backyard as well.
On the bedroom side, we created a Jack and Jill bathroom and took the additional space we gained and created a powder room for the home. The other two bedroom suites were converted to a master bedroom, bath and closet suite.
Architecturally, we kept the lower ceilings and we created very over-scale base moldings and a gorgeous cove molding that has two carvings, one along the top and the bottom of the cove. We painted them all out the same color, from floor to ceiling; including the ceiling. I love doing this because it can help elongate the feeling of height in the house. By painting it all white within the house allowed us to have this continual beautiful line. Within it, we created pockets of color such as we created a lot of Poches, the expression of what would have been thick, load barring stone in traditional European architecture -we allude to with these beautiful passageways. So between every room, you pass thick passages, and they are all concealed doors. From the front entry to the living room, we’re concealing coat closets. Then as you pass through to the dining room we’re not concealing anything, but we’re using the depth of the Poche to the right to create a built-in hutch, and we put silver tea leaf wallpaper in it and were able to collect and display generations of dinnerware, pewter, and porcelain.
The dining became a focal point with an antique chandelier we found and restored from them. A very simple, large-scale chandelier. What I loved about it was the simple round crystal hanging from the Bobèches. The dining room is also adorned with silver tea leaf wallpaper.
Then you go back, and you’re in the bar. The bar is broken down with a china hutch with display and then an area serving as a mixing station. We pulled the molding from the wall and created a shear of metal that comes out very full from behind the molding and is lit with downlighting and becomes the backdrop for the bar, sink and the mixing area. We didn’t want the liquor to be on display, so it’s tucked within the next Poche entering the kitchen. The focal point is the crystalware that is in the china hutch section with a wood top that is babinga wood top, and then we have a dark dark Uba tuba granite that grounds the mixing area.
Behind the bar, you pass through another Poche with a concealed pantry and storage and enter the kitchen and family room space. One of my favorite elements of the kitchen is that the fireplace flume from the other side (living room) was in a very odd location and as you can tell throughout our work, we do not believe in symmetry, but sometimes you do need a strong axis. So we created this wall to be a series of pantries, coffee bar pull-out and there are areas where the cabinetry can only be 4 inches deep, in the case of this fireplace protruding from the living room. So we used electronic uplift hardware that you can just touch, and it exposes a TV in this area. There is also a fully concealed refrigerator in another deep section, and at the far end, we used the space to conceal the HVAC chases where we have ductwork coming through. Every inch of the space is utilized and is critical to the overall function and design of the home.
The wall is finished using a matte, very hard white conversion varnish on this wall, concealing all of this storage and functions. This allowed us to create some symmetry and by adding very dark ebony on the left and right of the kitchen that houses the cooking, wash, and preparation and entertainment island. If you notice the legs on the island, they are custom designed octagon shaped, tapering Louis XVI inspired legs with hand carved capital on it. The capital is much more art nouveau capital. So what’s fun is, I don’t just have everything as French architecture, it’s a very eclectic mix. We just took the proportions and rules of French architecture as the underlying vein throughout the house and then we had a lot of play on this looking at different eclectic periods of architectural history. One of the owners really likes modern, and the other really likes traditional, and they agree that we wanted to go more traditional, but what we did was looked at all of the Neo movements and modern movements, and we tried to highlight little details that were inspired by these different periods. So this capital is a good example of mixing periods. We designed it and had a local woodcarver hand carve them, making them a unique detail within the house.
If you view the family room, it’s a very long and skinny room, but with proper planning of unique furniture, we were able to create multiple spaces, a game table and breakfast table at one end and a sofa and a chaise in the middle. The chaise and sofa are custom, with a custom upholstery we designed and manufactured for this client. This lets you sit in what is called tête-à-tête. You can sit from two directions on it and it’s one of the most popular places guests sit while owners are entertaining. This kitchen becomes a hub, standing around the island, sitting facing the living room and talking with each other on tête-à-tête chaises. Then we created these really small chagrin tables. Not everything needs to be big to entertain largely. You can get a lot more real estate out of your space by having well-scaled pieces. We have Chippendale chairs around a very simple round, white marble table at the far end of the room. What’s nice about the space is that you can orientate yourself to any direction within the room; to the kitchen, to the tv, to the outside view or the game area.
The room is surrounded by gold shear, allowing 90% visibility allowing you to see out and let light filter inside the rooms.
We lacquered the library space and added the owner’s book collection.
We repeated this again in a very dramatic powder room where every surface is lacquered in black. We put this gorgeous silk under the iron vanity with a silver sink, allowing you to experience the dark and bright contrast. This is brought to life with a very dramatic painting that we placed there for them. The mirror is an antique and we cut it and added sconces on top of it.
In the master suite bathroom, you’ll notice a lot of details. There is a herringbone floor; we layered up different profiles of marble to create very nicely detailed doorways going into the steam shower. These details are repeated on the bench and within niches.
From the dining room, we added another set of French doors that take you into a nice pea gravel courtyard, under a grand old magnolia tree. Another great place to entertain in and out of the dining rooms
This house is only 2,000 square feet and you can see that we created many living spaces. We’ve been invited back for several social events in the home, and we’ve personally experienced how large this house lives.