I am a huge fan of the holidays, and the way that I start to get into the spirit of the holiday season is with the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Christmas House. Every year, a beautiful home is selected, the Southeast's most talented designers are enlisted to create spectacular spaces, and a showhouse is created that combines four of my favorite elements: beautiful interiors, amazing architecture, stunning art, and elegant holiday decor. I have been following the progress of the Christmas House through AH&L editor Clint Smith's tweets; I have also been reading the profiles of the designers on the AH&L newsletter and magazine. Finally, after months of preparation, the 2009 Christmas House is ready to open its doors on Saturday, November 14.
This week I had the great honor of getting a sneak preview of the 2009 Christmas House, located at 1795 West Wesley (in Atlanta). Bill Baker (whom I interviewed on the blog this summer) was the architectural designer behind the home, Mark Stevens of Southwick Real Estate was the builder, and over two dozen of the Southeast's finest designers were responsible for the interiors. Virtually everything was in place, in preparation for the opening night party. Like any home ready to open its doors to honored guests, there was a buzz of activity and last minute fluffing. It was a bit surreal to see some of the nations most revered designers doing last minute checks on their spaces; AH&L editor Clint Smith was on site making sure that everything was picture perfect for the home's premiere.
The 2009 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Christmas House. There were many busy people on site, preparing for opening day on Saturday, November 14.
I had heard buzz that this year's Christmas House is the most spectacular one yet, so my expectations were high. Without a doubt, my expectations were exceeded. My overall impression was of the beautiful flow of the spaces, which is both in part because of the architecture and the skill of the designers, who were hand picked by Clint Smith for the Christmas House.
The interiors of the home have a definite transitional flair; there were certainly elements of the traditional in every room, but the openness of the architecture and the beautiful quality of the light in the home lent itself to a neutral color palette (with quite a bit of soft gray), striking contemporary art, and a fresh interpretation of design that really reflects what people are liking now. Walking through the home was like walking through the pages of a magazine.
I always think that entries define the first impression of a home. Barbara Howard's entry (of Marshall Howard) set the perfect introduction to this home, with the branch arrangements adorned with green, gold and cream glass ornaments. A hint of the room can be seen in the mirrors lining the wall - note the antique lighting feature in the reflection. To see the space in its entirety is a marvel to behold...you can get a hint of the beauty in the first picture in this post. (All photos were taken by me).
Beyond the entry is the spectacular living room, with interior design by John Oetgen. As luck would have it, John was there when I arrived. He said the inspiration for the room was a house in the Hamptons, as the connection between the interiors and the garden is so strong in this home (there are three French doors in the living room that open to the back yard entertainment area and pool). John's intent was to create a space that is both elegant and casual; a four season room that would be enjoyed every day of the year. Here is a little peek at my favorite vignette in the room. I have a soft spot for a piano in a home; John Oetgen incorporated a piano into the living room with a beautiful gallery wall as the background. Most of the artwork is from John's personal collection, and the blue piece in the center was painted by John himself.
Next to the piano sits a clamshell perched on a garden seat, loaded with gifts; in the room of John's imagination, guests who play the piano at holiday gatherings will receive a special gift for their efforts.
A charming cherub sculpture with a whimsical Etro velvet cap. John is known for his touches of whimsy in every room he creates, and this scene made me smile.
Another highlight of the home is the master bathroom created by noted designer Susan Ferrier of McAlpine Booth & Ferrier Interiors (she also designed the elegant and peaceful master bedroom). There was so much stunning light streaming into this space that I actually had a hard time capturing the room's beauty on camera.
The dining room, created by Sara Steinfeld, had a chic Hermès place setting on the table. Hermès of Paris is one of the sponsors of the Christmas House, and designed a room on the second floor of the house.
I found Barbara Heath's room (owner of Mercantile Atlanta) to be particularly beautiful. Barbara was putting last minute touches on the room when I saw it, and we had a difficult time picking out which vignette to feature from the room - there were so many beautiful elements in the space. Ultimately, we picked the 'magazine perspective' of the side table, and the mirrored bed. Barbara's store, Mercantile Atlanta, is well known for its one of a kind Murano glass lamps, as seen in this picture. (Make sure to peek into the closet in this room!)
Beth Webb did the design for the 'Artist Atelier', which really captured my imagination. In this small vignette from the space, I felt completely transported into the world of an artist refining his craft (and enjoying himself too - you will know what I mean if you have the opportunity to see the rest of the room!).
This is just a small glimpse into a few of the many amazing rooms in this year's Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Christmas House. The roster of design talent reads like a 'who's who' in design:
Bob Brown, Robert Brown Interior Design
Susan Ferrier, McAlpine, Booth & Ferrier Interiors
Barbara Heath, The Mercantile
Barbara Howard, Marshall Howard
Jim Howard, James Michael Howard
Bill Hudgins, Lush Life Home & Garden
Suzanne Kasler, Suzanne Kasler Interiors
Amy Morris, Amy D. Morris Interiors
John Oetgen, John Oetgen Design
Jared Paul, Jared Paul Interiors
Jimmy Stanton, Stanton Home Furnishings
Sara Steinfeld, Sara Steinfeld Ltd.
Courtney & Randy Tilinski, Bungalow Classic
Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors
Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos, Mark Williams Design Associates
Mimi Williams, Mimi Williams Interiors
For those of you who do not live in Atlanta, you can subscribe to Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine, which will feature some of the rooms from the showhouse in a springtime edition of the magazine. For those of you who live in Atlanta - or within driving distance - I highly recommend a visit to the showhouse. It is a great weekend to come to Atlanta - Scott's Antique Market is going on, the weather is supposed to be beautiful, and the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Christmas House opens this Saturday, November 14, at 10 am. The Christmas House benefits the Alliance Children's Theater.
For more information on the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Christmas Showhouse, visit the website (email subscribers, click here).
Where: 1795 West Wesley Road Atlanta, GA 30327
Dates: Open for public tours Saturday, November 14 through Sunday, December 6.
When:Wednesday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 – 5 p.m.
The House is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thanksgiving Day
Food & Gifts: Soups, salads, sandwiches and seasonal desserts will be for sale on site at Café Noel. Holiday gifts at the special shop by Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts, Inc.
Parking: Parking is not allowed at the Christmas House. However, there will be a continuous courtesy shuttle to and from the house from the IBM Office Complex at 4111 Northside Parkway NW, Atlanta 30327.
Finally, for an insiders perspective on the inspiration behind a room at the showhouse, check out designer Niki Papadopoulos' blog post on the room she designed with Mark Williams.