Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New on the market: one of Atlanta’s most beautiful homes

In the December 2009 issue of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, 20 houses were selected as the most beautiful examples of timeless design in Atlanta. One of these houses was recently listed for sale, which presents a rare opportunity to get a glimpse into the private side of both the interiors and the landscape design of the home.


Here is the picture that appeared in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles (photo credit: Erica George Dines). The casual observer might think that this is the front of the home, but it is not; it is the rear of the home. I have a great appreciation for a house that is as beautiful when viewing from the back as it is from the front.


As the house sits at the intersection of two charming streets, project architect Stan Dixon (Stan Dixon worked at Norman Askins Architects when he designed this house in 2000) and landscape architect John Howard sited the house at an angle to face the intersection of the streets. This enabled both a stately and commanding presence on Peachtree Battle, one of the most charming and prestigious streets in Atlanta, as well as a private motor court where the front of the house is located, with access from Woodward Way (the side street). A wing that parallels Woodward Way can be seen from this angle (as seen in the picture above, which I took last fall). To me, this is the ideal kind of a house: one that both reveals and conceals. In this case, the front of the house is only revealed to invited guests – and to readers of my blog!


I spoke briefly with Stan Dixon about the architecture of this house. He said that the historical references are Georgian, but with a uniquely American influence of 17th century Virginia architecture. Mount Airy, a mid-Georgian plantation house in Richmond County, Virginia, was a historical reference and inspiration for the design. Mount Airy was built from 1758-62, and was considered to be highly unique and distinctive at the time when it was built, with its combination of Georgian and Palladian influences. The central pavilion is made of rusticated limestone.


Here is a closer view of the street side of the house. Landscape architect John Howard was kind enough to provide me with some magnificent pictures for this post; John’s firm, Howard Design Studio, is one of the premiere landscape architecture firms in Atlanta. I have seen numerous landscape projects that John and his team have designed, and the word that comes to mind is ‘artist’ – John is truly an artist when it comes to landscape, and his designs always beautifully tie the houses to their environment, making the homes look as if they have been there for decades. He clearly has an artistic eye and skill at exterior photography as well; he took most of the exterior images that are used in this post.

John told me that “on the rear of the house, which faces Peachtree Battle, we built a limestone clad terrace off the main salon and left the outer edge as a planter for American Boxwood to create privacy. We anchored the corners of the terrace with English gas lanterns on cast iron posts matching those in the motor court, which framed the house from the street. Two mature matching Southern Magnolia trees were brought in from South Carolina and set with a crane to bracket the beautiful façade facing the street, giving the new house an instant feeling of permanence and dignity. The lawn sweeping from street to the house speaks for itself. Flanking the lawn on both streets, we created a woodland effect using Ginkgo trees and Yoshino Cherries mixed in a loose grove. The white Cherry blossoms are a striking contrast to the dark brick walls in the spring and the golden Ginkgo leaves a striking contrast in the fall. The trees were underplanted with Oakleaf Hydrangeas for a summer show. The landscape was treated with simple bold gestures to give the house the setting it deserved”.


Here is the front of the house – this is classic architecture at its best, with purity of form, perfect scale and proportion, built with classic and timeless materials. This is a house that would look right at home in the 17th century, looks incredibly elegant in the 21st century, and will still look as good 200 years from now. The bricks used for the exterior cladding of this home are old, imported from England, as the owners lived in the UK for many years and have a respect for the architecture and ancient materials used in historical houses in England.

The hardscape was carefully considered when planning this home. In landscape architect John Howard’s words, “the motor court was designed with two types of cobbles to form a subtle pattern, one stone being black Belgian cobbles and the other antique French sets. We placed a pair of English gas lanterns on cast iron posts as a portal into the court and to frame the approach to the house. The entire motor court and garden side of the house is walled in, providing intimacy, privacy and security”.


My favorite feature of the front of the home is the beautiful thick limestone door surround; it reminds me of my favorite Robert Adams designed door surrounds in Fitzroy Square in London . This house is elegant and simple, perfectly proportioned, and the door surround is the one point of ornamentation, yet with clean strong horizontal and vertical lines. The door surround culminates in a carved limestone pediment that echoes the shape of the central portion of the rear of the house.

The detail of the cobblestones in the motor court can be seen in this picture (taken by John Howard). Note the elegant Asiatic Jasmine that is planted next to the house, which suits the house perfectly. The ornamental bushes are American boxwood. It is also interesting to note that the motor court is designed so that visitors enter through the front door (Stan likes to design houses with this feature).


This image, from the real estate listing, shows the entry hall. The detail on the transom above the door can be seen. Stan noted that the interiors were not designed to be ‘period interiors’, but rather reflect a classic and timeless design suited to the needs of modern day life. I appreciated seeing the inside of the house, as I would have expected a typical Georgian layout with a center stair hall, living room and dining room on either side. I did not expect the front left window to be part of the entry, and love this unexpected surprise! I like the juxtaposition of the symmetry in the exterior of the house, and the more fluid arrangement inside. I am also a fan of stairs that are a little more tucked to the side, and this is a gracious and lovely example of a way to have a beautiful stair in the entry, but not have it dominate the space. (Image via listing)


A view from the entry to the back of the house, through a lovely vestibule defined by a series of arched doors. I love this floor – the running bond pattern is my favorite pattern for stone floors. There is a view to the back of the house, which is a feature that I like in a home. It appears as if this room is revealed when it is entered, and only a glimpse is seen when entering the home. (Image via listing)


Although I am fairly hopeless at figuring out floor plans, my best guess is that this elegant library is on the front of the house, to the right of the front door. As a bibliophile, I always appreciate a house that has a library – it speaks to a devotion to books and learning. As much as I like my kindle, I find that there it is truly no substitute for actually holding a book and being able to slip it into a spot in the bookshelf. (Image via listing)


This picture confirms my suspicion. I always appreciate when real estate photography helps the viewer discern the floor plan of a house; this is so important as most people start with the internet when looking for a home. (Image via listing)


The elegant room that can be seen from the front door. My guess is that this is the central window that can be seen at the rear of the house. I find the placement of the small paintings on either side of the fireplace to be charming. (Image via listing)


A pretty and well designed kitchen – given that this kitchen was designed 10 years ago, it is clearly a classic style as it looks fresh and current. (Image via listing)


The master bedroom is a beautiful retreat, decorated in one of my favorite shades of green-blue. (Image via listing)

Another special feature of this house is a intimately scaled formal walled garden, set to the left of the house on axis with the motor court. In John’s words, “the focal point of the axial approach is a koi pond built with stacked Cherokee stone with limestone detailing (the same materials used in the other walls on the property) . We inset an antique bronze fountain head obtained from a gallery in New York, and designed a custom pedestal which holds the plumbing mechanics for the pond, then placed a stone urn upon the top. We placed gas sconces on the garden wall to complete the backdrop. The terrace floor was laid with antique York stone purchased as salvage from England. This garden is laid out in four quadrants and is planted with dwarf boxwood and blue Macrophylla Hydrangeas. White Annabelle Hydrangeas were used behind the fountain, which drape heavily over the water in the peak of bloom. This garden can be viewed as a focal point from a loggia that is recessed into the side of the house. We placed English teak garden benches in the formal garden space and designed the Koi Pond surround at seating height”. (Image by John Howard)


A glorious view of the walled garden with the hydrangeas in full bloom; the columns of the loggia can be seen in this picture.


A close up of the beautiful fountain and koi pond.

I hope you enjoyed this tour, inside and out, of one of the most beautiful homes in Atlanta! This house is truly classic and timeless, which are hallmarks of architect Stan Dixon and landscape architect John Howard's style. It is on the market for $4,500,000.

Architects – Norman Askins Architects, Stan Dixon project architect

Landscape architect: John Howard, Howard Design Studio

Interior design - Lindsay Henderson Interiors of Greensboro, North Carolina

Listing agent: Mary Ellen Jones of Harry Norman Realtors (click here to see listing, which has more photos of the interior)

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  1. Wow, what a beauty...front to back and inside out. And, those gardens! Oh my! I even think I like the new house (was surprised at first to read it was built in 2000!) better than the one it was inspired by! Great find.

  2. Thanks for sharing this beautiful home. Love that the back is as beautiful as the front. Often you don't see that unless there is a "reason" like waterfront footage. And, the gardens.....heaven.

  3. Those gardens have gone straight into my inspiration file. They are exquisite. The house isn't bad either;o)

  4. Spectacular...beautiful formal house.The interior architectural details are so elegant and subtle. However, what really struck me is the landscaping...the walled garden, the koi pond, the cobbled courtyard...a dream. thanks

  5. I have driven by this house hundreds of times, and had no idea of the beauty that is on the other side of the street presence (which is beautiful in and of itself). Thank you for this post!

  6. A beautiful home. I'm always impressed with a home, recently designed and built, that looks as timeless as a home built 100 years ago.

  7. What a beautiful treat this morning! The garden is just lovely. I can't wait until my Annabelle's bloom!

  8. This is stunning. I could never handle taking care of that garden but then again, if I could buy this house, I probably wouldn't do my own gardening! Love all the greek revival elements :) Marija

  9. Beautiful! The interiors are wonderful. Love the foyer with that staircase!

  10. Beautiful architectural details and garden!

  11. I keep thinking about trucking in those big magnolias. I drive by often. It conceals it's size. The wing and garage have a bigger footprint than the main house.and looks like it's always been there. It's kitty cornered on the lot so it honors the corner, if you know what I mean.

  12. Holly, wow. you continue to amaze me. Just when I thought your blog could not get any better, there you go ant top it. I love all the research you did for this post... speaking to Stan and John. As always, your observations are right on. What a great house for a post, and you nailed it. I like you observation about the stairs. I am also not a fan of having stairs right in my face when you walk in the front door.... I am also a huge fan of forcing guest to use the front door. Yong Pak did that on Glennis's house. The only other real way to get into the house in through the garage, and she always keeps them closed.... It makes people have to use the front door, and we all love that. Thanks for starting my morning off right Holly :)

  13. wow, that garden is swoon worthy.

  14. Oh my my my. How gorgeous is this, hard pressed to decide just what strikes my fancy most, I am equally enthralled regarding the interior and the exteriors spaces in this residence. Thank you for the tour!

  15. This is such an exquisite house! I love that it is a less formal Georgian -so graciously designed and beautifully decorated! The only minor thing I would change was that I prefer kitchen cupboards to reach up to the ceiling so you don't get that dusty ledge. Otherwise - PERFECT!! Love the cobblestone drive too, gravel would be nice too but higher maintenance.

  16. The house is exquisite and the landscaping is absolutely stunning. Howard does beautiful work and I really think the landscaping steals the show.

  17. Perfect. Simply perfect. Elegant and charming -- a true Southern home. Just imagine a wonderful party in that garden! Thanks for such a wonderful posting!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  18. The exterior shots, oh my the garden and outdoor living space is exquisite! A landmark indeed!

    Art by Karena

  19. I am so happy to see the details of this house that I have passed by so often...it's gorgeous. While I appreciate all components of the home I have to agree with most of the readers - the garden is just heavenly.

  20. I grew up (Galveston Bay) with asiatic jasmine used as a groundcover. Love using it this way in my design work. Sometimes I'll put it on the house & at its base as a groundcover.

    Lushness without effort. Evergreen, fragrant blooms, takes sun or shade. Perfect choice for the front of this house.

    Delicious details in your post.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  21. I'm speechless. From the grounds to the interior, this is the definition of a gorgeous home!

  22. Oh, it is as magnificent as I'd hoped. Truly a classic house. So often, new houses only aspire to look as though they have been here for ages. This one succeeds beautifully. Wonderful post!!

  23. What a beautiful home. I would give a limb to have a classic home like that some day. I agree that the landscaping is exquisite and makes it seem like the house was there forever, like an English estate. I certainly envy the houses in your town - we have so few with that grace and beauty here. Beautiful work by everyone. But I must admit, I do not care for the off-center stairway. Though I am sure I would grow to love it. Have you picked out a landscape architect for your big project?

    xo Terri

  24. This is a treat of a post!

    I have ridden my bike past this house for a number of years and have always admired it, even before my heightened appreciation of architecture and design. I have even had riding friends (with little design interest) remark about the house to me. A sure sign of its beauty and timelessness when it draws praise from a lay person.

    Both Stan and John did an amazing job designing this house. Seeing the motor court puts it all together for me. I never quite understood the house until now. The comments from John about his design are great too. I love knowing the details behind the design.

  25. What a gorgeous home! Love the intimate garden, living room and timeless kitchen.


  26. P.S. Gordon was over. I told him you'd blogged about a P'tree Battle House. "Which one?" he asked. I gave him the slightest glance. He said "Oh yeah the one kitty corned with the unusually colored brick. Yep. He enjoyed learning more form you post. What keeps coming to my mind is that it doesn't show nearly everything.

  27. Wow Holly - fabulous tour you provided here. I too was surprised to see the staircase as it is, but it really is elegant and not so central to the design of the home. i really do wish i had a floor plan so I could really visualize the grandeur of this home.. and an exceptional tour of the gardens as well.

  28. Oh Holly, this post is wonderful! I remember when this house was in Southern Accents and then I "discovered" it driving down Ptree Battle one day when I was in town..so classic and beautiful. I agree with James, it's always so interesting to learn the 'why' behind a designer's decisions...wonderful! Thanks for sharing what you learned about this house with us.

  29. You are the best! I love that you do all the dirty work for us so we can get a true sneak peek into the home. :) Thanks for that! The garden (and landscaping) is gorgeous!! Come on Spring! xoRH

  30. Get it Holly, get it!! You deserve it!

    What is not to love? A classic beauty with a spectacular garden and a kitchen that looks brand new - even though it was put in 10 years ago. (Someone was thinking).

    Thank you for the lovely tour. And thank your for all the effort you put into each and every post.

    Happy rest of the week! OX Mon

  31. Peach Tree, I remember that street in the 60's
    It was fabulous. There are some really wonderful neighborhoods there. Enjoy looking at elegant homes anytime thanks for this elegant post and all your effort.


  32. You always find the neatest stuff... your earlier post on floors was the inspiration for my floor post. I meant to show a floor like the ones on your post, but did not want to copy yours and could not find one on my own... Thanks for visiting. I am so looking forward to seeing what you decided ...

  33. Ok, I'll buy it. The garden TOTALLY sold it for me. Thanks for sharing!

  34. There is no design that can create the feeling you get when you step in to a house with real history!

  35. How lovely to have you stop in for a visit and thank you for your lovely comments. Your post is so well done and the garden has inspired me to no end. I do want a luscious garden this year. A most gracious home and a well-researched post. Have the best weekend.

  36. Aaah, Georgian proportions - absolutely my dream style of architecture. Thanks for the post..Rachaelx

  37. Oh, how I miss Atlanta! After I turned 16 and received my driver's license, I spent much of my free time meandering around the beautiful streets in NW Atlanta (favorites were Tuxedo Road and West Paces Ferry - no surprise there!), picking out the houses where my friends and I would live when we grew up and dreaming of the elegant soirees we would take turns hosting!

    A few years ago I found a copy of Classic Atlanta which featured many of the houses I had so admired in my youth. I hadn't realized until I looked through it how much those houses had influenced the design of my own house. While I thought I was sticking with a pure Georgian theme, my front elevation was remarkably similar - on a much smaller scale - to my favorite house, a Philip Schutze regency style at 320 West Paces.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble down Memory Lane here! I was thrilled to read in your comment on my blog that you cook every night. I look forward to perusing your blog. I find that designers often are not cooks and the kitchens they admire may be pretty but they would be a functional disaster if anyone actually had to cook in them on a regular basis!

  38. Simply Stunning! Great inspiration for my own home! I love the garden! The koi pond is to die for! I am a new follower and look foward to more beautiful photos!
    Full Bloom Cottage

  39. This house has always amazed me. Everything has such detail and it's so inspiring. I was the Superintendent when this house was built 10 years ago and this was my first project. Both Stan Dixon and John Howard did an amazing job. Thank you so much for posting this. This will always be my #1.

  40. It is truly hard to believe that this is a "new" house! It is done so well with "old brick" and old cobblestones......but not a bit of "faux old"!

    It is completely brilliant; and your post is an education for all!



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