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Thursday, January 29, 2009

House of the Week: a Georgian Style Showhouse

In November, I did a post on the art of the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Christmas Showhouse.  This showhouse is usually for sale, and more often than not the house is sold while the showhouse is in progress.  Perhaps a sign of the times, the home from the recent showhouse has not sold yet, although it is quite a beautiful house.  The real estate listing has some great pictures on it, and I thought you might enjoy them too!

The house was designed by Bill Harrison of Harrison Design Associates, one of the premier architectural firms in town.  It is described as a Georgian style house, and sits on a 1.6 acre lot in a prime area of Buckhead.

The foyer was designed by Robert Brown, who used art from the Emily Amy Gallery.  During the Christmas showhouse, the staircase had fresh garland, and a huge chandelier was in the foyer, made by Niermann Weeks.  Looking through to the back of the house, the dramatic living room by Suzanne Kasler can be seen. Surprisingly, there were no close up pictures of the living room in the real estate listing.  I wonder whether the chandelier in the living room comes with the house; it is made by Therien, and was a focal point of the room.

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A different view of the entry hall, showing the dining room.  I really liked the floor plan of this house.  Beyond the staircase, in the hall to the right,  was a big bar that had easy access to the living room and the dining room.  This house would work beautifully for entertaining.

To the left of the entry is the sitting room, designed by Stan Topol. It features a beautiful chandelier by Dessin Fournir. 

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The kitchen, which has a beautiful countertop made of marble. The sink was also made of the same material as the countertop.  The kitchen design was by Design Galleria.

Another view of the kitchen, which opens to the keeping room. 

A closer view of the keeping room and the breakfast room.  Gretchen Gilstrap Edwards designed the keeping room, and Liz Williams (alas, no website) designed the breakfast room.  I have heard that they coordinated with each other on the color scheme to keep the rooms in sync.  Williams used Niermann Weeks' Mizner lantern, which is one of my favorite lanterns.  Although it is hard to see in this picture, the ceiling is painted a very pale blue/green.  The walls in this room are Benjamin Moore linen white, and the ceiling is Sherwin Williams sea salt.

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A closer view of the breakfast room (my favorite room of the house).  Although it is hard to see here, the curtains have a trim with pearl buttons on it.  Williams used Niermann Weeks' Mizner lanterns, one of my favorites.

 

The master bathroom. I love the soft drape of the window treatment in this bathroom.

 

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A guest room in the basement, designed by Beth Webb and Nancy Pendergrast, is quite striking.  I love the range of tones in this room; it would look just as graphic as a black and white photo.  

I thought the house flowed beautifully considering that 20 different designers were involved in the house.  My favorite room was the keeping room and breakfast room, mainly because I loved the architecture and color scheme.  So, what do you think? The house can be yours for $4.75 million! Do you have a favorite room?    I only showed my favorite rooms, but the official listing has some more

Monday, January 26, 2009

A More Youthful Dining Room

Not too long ago I was given a beautiful dining room table, 16 chairs, and a sideboard. Fortunately the inheritance was not through a death in the family, but rather through my mother-in-law downsizing to a smaller house and a more casual lifestyle. Are they what I would have picked for myself? No. However, they are beautifully made by Baker in the 1980s (pre Kohler acquisition), of the highest quality, and I am very grateful to have them.

I have seen a recurrent theme in many blogs this year of working with what you have. And, in that spirit, this is what I am doing with my dining room set. Because of the 'new' dining room furniture, my current dining room style is quite formal, traditional, and a bit heavy: the chairs are chippendale style, the sideboard Sheraton, and the table a double pedestal. I recently painted the dark walls in Farrow & Ball clunch (a nice light neutral) and replaced the 80s brass chandelier. This helps, but further measures need to be taken to make the dining room look like a thirty-something lives here, not an eighty-something. As always, I went to my inspiration files for ideas.


This dining room is from an Atlanta real estate listing. I found it to be very striking! A wall of contemporary wall sculptures by Carrie McGee hang on wires from the ceiling. The chippendale style chairs have gauzy slipcovers, which enable the beautiful shape of the chairs to be seen. From this picture, I can see that contemporary art and sheer slipcovers help update the space.


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This dining room has a lot of traditional elements, but the sisal rug and slipcovers on the seat of the chairs freshen up the space. A light color on the walls helps, as well as a chandelier that has character. Image via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, interior by Suzanne Kasler.


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This is the updated dining room in the vice president residence in Washington, DC. Years ago, then VP Dick Cheney and his wife brought in designer Frank Babb Randolph to freshen up the interiors. He brought in a neutral palette and used a lot of contemporary art to modernize the spaces. In this room, with a very traditional dining room table (on loan from the State Department), chairs (custom made for the Quayles), and sideboard, Randolph used a large dramatic piece of contemporary art and billowing silk curtains, as well as a light color scheme. The contemporary art instantly updates the space. Image via the Washington Post.


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This dining room is one of my favorites, although looking at the details it is still very traditional. The neutral rug and the fresh color combination makes it very lively, and more youthful.

When I was thinking about painting my dining room, fellow blogger Cote de Texas said that she instantly thought of this image. The chandelier, sconces, and dining set are very traditional. However, the slipcovers for the chairs brings in a fresh pattern, the bare floors make the room clean and uncluttered, and the color palette is current.

Another option is to use a trendy chandelier to update the look of a dining room. I am not a trendy person, though. If I am going to get a chandelier, it will be a chandelier for the long haul.

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Another way to update the look of old furniture is to paint the chairs. Image via Sarah Richardson Design.


Here are two chairs that Eddie Ross found at a flea market. The finish was originally a typical brown mahogany, but he stripped the old finish off, and painted the chairs this lovely color of aqua. As much as painting my chairs tempts me, I know that I could never make such a dramatic change to them. Besides that, I think my mother-in-law would kill me!

So here are my conclusions: a neutral rug (preferably sisal), contemporary art, slipcovers to update the chairs. Painting the chairs would really update the look, but is out of my comfort zone. A really trendy chandelier would update the look too. Any other ideas? If so, please post them in the comments!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A New French House in Atlanta

Last year, one of my favorite houses featured in House Beautiful was a French influenced home. The architects on the home are Spitzmiller & Norris, one of the premiere architectural firms in Atlanta. The interior designer was Suzanne Kasler. Spitzmiller & Norris have recently updated their website with pictures of the home, including some room and house views that were not in House Beautiful.

Here is the exterior of the home. It is gratifying to see what the home looks like on the outside, as there was no picture in the article.

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The front hall, which was in the magazine article and is also on the architect's website. I always love seeing chairs with small framed etchings above (in fact, I even devoted an entire post to this type of vignette).

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Here is a beautiful picture that was not in the magazine. The stairwell and Swedish style Mora clock are a beautiful view at the end of the hall.

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This is top view is from the architect's website; the bottom version is the styled version from the magazine. There really aren't too many differences other than flowers and throws. Look through the right, to what looks like a beautiful limestone fireplace. I don't see this in any of the room pictures in either the magazine or the architect's site. I wonder what room it is?

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Here is a perspective of the living room that was not in the magazine - a view of the room with the French doors. I had originally thought that this room was in the front of the house, but now I think it might be in the back given that there are three sets of French doors (the front of the house has two). I wish there were a picture of the back of the house so I could figure out the floorplan.

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Perhaps it is this room that is in the front of the house.

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And this must be the other room in the front of the house.

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I love this view of a Swedish style bench with a tapestry hanging above.

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Oh, how I would love to have a pantry like this!

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The kitchen. This house is about 9500 square feet, so the small size of the kitchen surprises me. It is beautiful, though, with its Niermann Weeks chandelier and custom cabinetry. I also like the farm sink and industrial looking faucet. The upholstered chairs, as lovely as they are, would not last even a week with my messy children. The owners of this home must be beyond the young kid stage.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of a new French inspired home in Atlanta! Be sure to check out the website for Spitzmiller & Norris; they have some wonderful galleries of their work.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

House of the Week - Neoclassical Transformation

When I created the post about French inspired renovations in Atlanta, it made me realize how few of my posts contain pictures of houses. And yet, my computer files contain hundreds of pictures of houses that I find to be beautiful and inspirational. I have always loved houses and architecture. I remember visiting Newport, Rhode Island as a child and being mesmerized by the Newport Mansions, not just for their size and grandeur, but also because they combined so many things that I find beautiful: art, architecture, interior decor, and landscape design.

I feel fortunate to live in Atlanta, a city that has so many beautiful homes and illustrious architects. Homes from Atlanta are frequently featured on the pages of the design magazines that we all love, and I pass by many of them every day on my driving route. Now that I have a dog, I have started to plan my dog walks in the most beautiful neighborhoods in Atlanta so I can look at homes while my dog burns off some of his almost endless energy.

The Front Before

When looking at the website for a custom home builder in Atlanta, I spotted a renovation project of a Georgian brick home from the 70s (pictured above).

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I realized that I recognized the house - I pass it on one of my favorite walks. What a transformation! I had originally thought the new and improved house was somewhat French in style, but then began to wonder if it was more Neoclassical. Fellow blogger Architect Design confirmed that the style of the new house is indeed more Neoclassical in form because of the classic pediment, prominent entryway and Baroque door surround. I think that the transformation is quite striking. As someone who usually thinks more in terms of building a new house rather than renovating, it was really eye opening for me to see what can be done to change the exterior of a home.

I love the symmetry of the house, and the beautiful door surround. I also like that you can see straight through the house to the back. What do you think of this house? I wish I could see the inside!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Flowering Quince

Whole Foods is my favorite places to get fresh flowers. The location that is closest to me is one of the largest Whole Foods in the US, and they usually have some more unusual choices in the flower department.

When I went there yesterday, I was thrilled to see that they had a nice selection of flowering quince. Although not to everyone's taste (my husband can't understand why I have a bunch of branches in a vase), I love how flowering quince looks because of its sculptural qualities.

This is my all time favorite picture of flowering quince, in a room designed by Michael Smith. Michael Smith is, of course, the decorator selected by the Obamas. He must be floating on air right now, don't you think?

Another favorite picture in my files, both because of the amazing Jean Royere sconce and the flowering quince.

Do you spot the flowering quince in this picture? It is a bit tucked away. I love the look of the branches of flowering quince reflected in a mirror. Interior design by Suzanne Kasler.


A room by one of my favorite designers, James Beebe Hawes of Caldwell-Beebe. I am not sure if this is flowering quince, but it has the same look and feel. Don't the branches look like a sculpture?

When I look at this picture, I can imagine that the owner of the house went out and clipped some flowering branches (look at the basket underneath the table) and stuck a blooming branch in the water. Great stylist at work here!

I love the beautiful symmetry in this picture - the Italian consoles, the mirrors, the lamps, and the branches facing one another is perfection. I did not note who did the interiors on this room - does anyone regognize it? I just saw it recently on a blog.

A masterful David Hicks tablescape. I am not sure if this is flowering quince, but it has the same effect. The branches connect the smaller items to the height of the lamp, don't you think?

This is one of my favorite pictures of an entryway - from an Ethan Allen ad!

Here is my entryway, with the flowering quince I bought yesterday. It looks quite twiggy right now (and after looking at the pictures on this post, I should have bought two bunches), but within a week, it will be in full bloom. I removed my usual collection of items off the chest in order to make room for the quince, and rearranging things made me realize that I am lacking a good medium scale item for to put on this chest. I think a nice piece of sculpture would be great here, so I will be on the lookout for that when I go to my favorite annual art market next month.

Friday, January 9, 2009

French Inspired Houses (aka, My Dream Home 2009)

For more inspirational finds, please visit www.quatrefoildesign.com

In January of last year, I did a post on my (then) favorite style of architecture, Georgian with Adams influence. So many of the house pictures in my inspiration files are Georgian, and I still love and appreciate this style. However, as much as I love Georgian style homes, over the past year I have found myself gravitating to homes with a French influence. It seems like more of a natural fit given the elements I like on the inside of a house: tall, large windows and doors, a light filled interior, high ceilings, and a neutral palette.

This is the house that was a turning point for me. I first saw it early last year on a Dallas realtor site, and just found it again on a new blog, Period Homes. I love everything about this beautiful house - the soft colors, the gray slate roof, the symmetry, the path to the front door, the wonderful proportions, the rounded dormer windows in the roof. It was built in 1929, yet its classic form is still beautiful in 2009. Also, it is not a dramatic departure from the Georgian homes I posted last year. I don't really see too many homes like this in my area of Atlanta; many of the two story French style homes in Buckhead seem to be much larger and much grander than this.

Although it sounds like my interest in French inspired homes suddenly formed sometime over the past year, in truth I have had an interest in French style architecture for years. I remember seeing this picture (above) in the Betty Lou Phillips book 'Provencal Interiors', and thinking it was beautiful. This is the back of a home designed by architect A. Hays Town of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A. Hays Town was called the "premier architect of the South" in his day.


I did a post of French Normandy architecture early in 2008 (picture above is from this post, Pak Heydt Architects), so already the interest in French architecture was getting reignited. As I learned while writing both the post on Normandy architecture and this post, French inspired architecture is an incredibly broad category. It is nearly impossible to categorize French style because it is so diverse.


So, what kind of French homes are inspiring me now? The ones I am noticing in Atlanta are 1 1/2 story symmetrical renovations; this style seems to be in vogue in the most established part of Atlanta. Many older red brick ranch and Georgian style homes are being painted white or cream (mostly one story houses, but some two story houses), large shutters and new front doors are being added, roofs are being reshaped, and large gas lanterns are being hung. The home pictured above was a 1960s ranch that was taken down to the studs and redone to a high standard; I was able to see the inside of this home when it was on the market last year, and it was eye opening how nice and fresh a well done renovation could look and feel.


Here is another high quality renovation, this time of a 1950s ranch home. I was able to go in this home many years ago on a tour of homes, and thought of it when I was writing this post. I love the shutters on the front and the rounded dormers on the roof, and the small round windows on the wings of the house.


I recently found another superbly done renovation in the French style (pictured above; one picture is the professional version (used with permission), the other is my iphone picture). It is a renovation of a 1950 ranch house, and the architect is Stan Dixon. This project won the prestigious Shutze Award (named for Philip Trammell Shutze, one of Atlanta's finest 20th century architects) in 2008 for a residence under 4,000 square feet. According to the notes for this house, it was a prime candidate for French provincial style given the existing home already had a steep pitched hip roof and French doors across the front. Among the many changes that were implemented were custom doors and windows designed and proportioned to reflect the French style, a new limestone entry portico, new dormer windows, and a dining pavilion in the front of the home. The inside of the house was taken down to the studs and renovated as well.



Here is a close up of the home. Architect Stan Dixon pays close attention to scale and proportion when designing his homes, and even the smallest of details are superb and historically accurate. I love the lanterns flanking the door, and the shape of the French door on the dining pavilion.



Another renovated house in Atlanta, done in French style. Many of the renovated French style homes I see have a central structure, then two symmetrical wings that jut out from the house. This house was always French inspired style (built in the 1960s) , and the architect who drew up the plans for the renovation redid the windows and emphasized the French elements already there. The landscaping was also redone to emphasize the French style.



This home is in an Atlanta neighborhood built in the 1960s, and most of the lots in this neighborhood are wide and at least 1 acre. Most of the original homes were a designed in a gracious ranch style, and many recent renovations in this neighborhood have a French flair to them.



This home was designed by James Means, many of whose greatest homes were designed in Atlanta in the 1950s and 1960s. The home is in the same neighborhood as the one in the previous picture. Means got his start working with another great Atlanta architect, Neel Reid, and worked at the same firm as Philip Shutze. This completely renovated home was on the market last year, and sold for $3.5 million. I wish I had saved more pictures from the listing! I remember that the cabinets in the kitchen were a beautiful blue-gray.


I pass by this home sometimes when walking my dog. This French style house is not very big, but it is charming.



This, on the other hand, is a new French style home in Atlanta that is enormous! It recently sold in the $5 million range. The landscape architects who worked on this property are among the best in Atlanta.



Another home in Atlanta that underwent a complete renovation, with the result being a charming French style home. I love the back of this house: 5 sets of French doors, and two small wings that make a 'U' shape to the house. I also love the rounded dormers on the roof in the front and back. I couldn't imagine having a back yard like this, though, with young children! Image courtesy DeLany Rossetti Construction.


This is the kind of lush Buckhead front yard that Tom Wolfe wrote about in his book A Man in Full. The home, built in 1955, was a standard ranch with a low roof. The current owners did a complete renovation; the height of the roof was increased and dormer windows were added, the front was redone, the windows lengthened and large shutters were installed. The result is a charming French style home.


This is new home designed by architect Stan Dixon. It is described as an 'elegantly proportioned French Country home', and is nestled in the midst of homes built in the 1920s through 1940s. It looks right at home in the neighborhood, a testament to the classic design and style of the home.



If I had to pick one, this is my favorite. It is more formal than the other homes I have shown, but I love the look of it. The elements I like are all in place: neutral color scheme, steep roof with arched dormer windows. I realize that many of the pictures in this post have those little wings on the side, which surprises me. This house has them too. I have watched this house being renovated for over two years (Pak-Heydt were the architects); the original house was also French in style, but quite a few changes were made to the roofline and the look of the house. It sits on a 3.2 acre piece of property, and is actually quite large; the house is U shaped with large wings off the back, plus a large garage to the left (visible if you look closely).

As you can see, French influenced style is quite prevalent in Buckhead, perhaps because so many older ranch homes "in-town" are renovated and lend themselves to this style. The cost of land is so high in Buckhead, and the property taxes are so high, that financially it often makes much more sense to renovate rather than tear down. I can't help but wonder if I gravitate to this because it is what I see so much around town. Or, maybe it is just what I notice; Buckhead has a tremendous diversity in home styles.

Do you ever see this style where you live? If you like this style too, which house is your favorite?

I started out 2008 with a love of Georgian homes, and am starting out 2009 with a preference for 1 1/2 story French eclectic symmetrical homes. Upon reflection, I am gravitating to houses that are not too big, but are very well done . It makes me wonder what 2009 will hold?


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