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Friday, September 24, 2010

A house transformation

 I have always been a fan of houses, from the time I was a small child.  Pretty much any house can captivate my interest – there is always a story, whether it be a story of the house, the inhabitants, the architects, the designers, or the setting.  Now that I am in the process of building my own house, I have extended my love of houses into an absolute fascination (obsession) with the renovation or building of a house.  I specifically plan my dog walks so I can check on the houses that are under construction all over Atlanta.

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This charming Atlanta house was on my favorite dog walk, and it was on the market for quite a while.  When it sold, I assumed that the new owners would move right in; after all, there is a classic beauty to the facade, and the inside was quite beautiful too (alas, I did not save the FMLS pictures). 

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Not too long after the house sold, a Spitzmiller & Norris sign went up. Spitzmiller & Norris is one of the premier architectural firms in Atlanta, so I knew that something interesting and special was going to take place.  Luckily, it did not take too long until some significant changes became apparent.  The house was restored to the original brick cladding (not sure if the paint was removed from the original brick, or if it was entirely re-bricked), which somehow brought the house back to a more pure state - a blank slate in many ways.  It’s hard to believe that this is the same house!  The two story portico was removed (it was not original to the house), but the dormers were always part of the roofline, they were just hidden by the fretwork on the portico. 

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A beautiful entrance to the motor court was added, as was a winding stair approach with bluestone treads.  The limestone finial on the entrance gate sets the tone for the elegance of the renovation.  This picture captures the beginning of the limewash that was applied to the house.  It seems as if quite a few Atlanta renovations, as well as new builds, are using a limewash instead of painting the brick, as it is a finish that ages beautifully and gives an instant feel of patina and age.

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Another in progress picture – the addition of a limestone portico and limewash on the brick completely transform the facade of the house.  

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A detail shot of the side entry to the house.  The beauty of the limewash detail can be seen quite clearly here. I love how they varied the effect on the brick arch and on the tops of the brick walls.  Update: after posting about this house, I learned that San Marco lime wash paint was used on the exterior.  Click here to go to the website for San Marco, which offers a full range of interior and exterior mineral based paints.

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A quick iphone picture taken a few weeks ago; it looks like a shutter color decision was being made.  On the left, a deep tone that appears to be black or possibly a very deep green or gray.  On the right, a soft taupe that blends with the color of the limewash.  Which do you like better? (My photo)

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And the winner: the tone on tone shutters, which only seem to be on the bottom windows.  The landscaping is slowly being installed (this picture was taken a few days ago), which always makes a house look and feel more finished.   The intent was to landscape during the cooler weather of September, but we have been in the grip of a heat wave with record breaking temperatures (plus, a strange caterpillar has invaded Atlanta and is has destoyed many of the beautiful lush lawns in Buckhead).  But, the look and feel of the house in its new setting is largely formed.  I love the retaining wall used in the front, which protects a grand magnolia tree.  My quick iphone picture in suboptimal light does not do the house justice. (My photo)

It has been fascinating to watch the progress on this house over the past year, and it really shows how an existing lot and house can be transformed under the direction of a talented team of architects and landscape designers.

For more information on Spitzmiller & Norris, please visit their website: http://spitzmillerandnorris.com.  They also have a facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitzmiller-and-Norris-Inc/65106894098 (All images, except where noted, from the Spitzmiller & Norris Facebook page)

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44 comments:

  1. At first I was thinking 'NO!' when I saw the color of the brick used, then I kept reading and the lime-wash made it a 10 out of 10.
    I love to see how people can make an old home new to them. No one lives in a home the same way as a previous owner, as it should be, and I think this transformation made this house a home to the new owners.

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  2. Another beautiful home in Atlanta! I wish I lived nearby so I would have a chance to see the homes in person. In the house I currently live in, which was a 2000 renovation from a nineties ranch to a french country home, our brick looks very similar to this. Unfortunately, we didn't know about limewashing, and just got a sponge and dabbed a cream paint until the brick was mostly white, but you could still see some of the color and texture through the paint. I posted a picture on my latest blog post, so you can see what I am referring too.

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  3. Wow. What a transformation, Holly. I really do love the look of the limewash as opposed to painting brick. It's nice to let the brick show through some and the color variation is lovely. If anything, this house looks more authentic now than it did before!

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  4. Now that is a transformation. I got a little scared after seeing the striped brick, but love the finished limewash look and feel. It truly is lovely. Thank you for walking us through. Would love to see a follow-up on the landscaping in spring?

    xo,
    cristin

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  5. Thanks for sharing. Please show the finished product when thing get settled! Love the limewash. Such a beautiful home.
    Have a nice evening.
    Teresa

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  6. What an incredible project!! I love this transformation, and you are right, with the right people in place and the right lot a renovation can be so amazing! I'd love to see how everything turns out.
    Nancy

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  7. Wow! What a difference a year has made to that house. Plus a lot of dollars and hard work I guess! It looks fabulous.

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  8. What an amazing project. I got scared at the red brick but this lime wash finish is fantastic, so much more subtle than the original white.
    Thank you for showing us these pictures, your dog must be able to find his way to this house unaided!
    Sharon
    My French Country Home

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  9. Amazing transformation and I prefer the new look but my personal opinion since you asked about the shutters, I would have gone the darker color. It's a stunning house, thank you for sharing!

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  10. Limewash! That's such a great look. Thanks for sharing your photos of this house.

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  11. I've been following this on the Spitzmiller & Norris Facebook page but never knew where is was. So cruising back from my errands in the neighborhood I saw the sign, and bam, there it was, at least I think so, I couldn't slow down. I still don't know what street it's on. Hope I can find it again.

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  12. Hi Holy,
    I really love this house and the transformation is stunning! I love the limewash !!!
    Great post!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    xx
    Greet

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  13. Your novel descriptions are truly a fairytale! This one will live "happily ever after," I'm certain. Nice job! franki

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  14. I was sorry to see the old facade go but the new version has some wonderful features. My favorite is the side door overhang and the intimacy of the courtyard. I was surprised the front portico didn't follow the lines of the graceful arched fan light of the entrance and the curve of the dormers. I do see they used the arch again on the breezeway from the garage.

    Love your writings and look forward to them in my mailbox!
    Shannon

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  15. I have kind of mixed feelings. The original house looks much more "Southern" to me. The second house is nice, and I like the smaller portico (although like everyone else, I got scared by the in progress photos). It looks bare, but maybe landscaping will take care of that. I'm hoping what they put down is going to grow a LOT, because it's really not adequate.

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  16. Yes, Ms. TTI, that's the one. First impressions that don't come though well in pictures: 1. It's close to the road - very good thing for architecture tourists; I hope the foundation plantings stay low. 2. A wonderful clarity, crisp lines, understated. 3. The monochrome scheme focuses my eye on the shapes, lines, and the details. Very fine work.

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  17. My bags are packed and I am ready to move in.

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  18. I have loved watching the progress on this house!
    I'm crazy about the limewash and have been using it on virtually evry one of our projects as it's interior applications are fabulous as well. We use it on wooden floors, walls and cabinetry. The product line is San Marco, made in Italy (paints, plaster, and limewashes) and sold here in Atlanta on Bishop Street! Have you seen the other two houses?? One on Argonne and one on Arden. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the patina!!!! Great work Spitzmiller and Norris and great blog Holly!

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  19. I love the look of the limewash and the details they put into the side entry and brick arch. Wish I lived in Atlanta---you truly have some of the most beautiful homes there!

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  20. Wow - Wow - Wow. I learn so much on your blog! The limewashing is beautiful.
    -Trish

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  21. this was fun holly. as i scrolled through each photo there was a surprise awaiting, and each was delightful culminating to a magnificent finish.debra

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  22. I would brave the heat and the caterpillars to go dog walking with you!!! You find and show us the best homes!

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  23. Holly, so beautiful. I long to visit Atlanta one day just to admire the houses. Hope all is well with your house adventure. Any photos??

    xo Terri

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  24. That's quite a transformation. I actually loved all stages of the house. I do prefer it without the two story protico though. It feels more authentic.

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  25. The lime wash finish is beautiful. I've been doing some research on lime wash finishes. Apparently there is a company called San Marco (located in Atlanta!) that carries some beautiful products. I had a lengthy conversation with Peter Block about it. He uses their products a great deal. I'm hoping to visit Atlanta in January to see some of his projects to see how the lime wash looks in person. I'd love to see this home by Spitzmiller and Norris as well!

    xo
    Brooke

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  26. Love the tone on tone shutters. I have been thinking long and hard about what color to put back on the house....when I get around to it. They were dark green/black when I had to take them down to put in new windows (and they were falling apart). I really keep wanting to do white shutters on my white house. This cinched it. It's like a layering of textures...that allows the window boxes to shine.

    Happy Friday!!
    Elizabeth

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  27. What a fantastic post! I love that you went by and captured the progress of this house from start to finish. It really looks like a differnet house, an absolutely stunning one at that.

    xo Linda

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  28. I love the way the lime wash softens the whole house. I will be fun to see the transformation as the landscape goes in. Please keep the pictures coming. I would love to see the finished project.

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  29. Love that they removed the two story portico. I can see how it would be fun to walk by every so often as things unfolded over the last year.

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  30. That is limestone wash done right! Another home to make us Atlantans proud.

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  31. This post reminded me of when I was growing up. There was nothing I enjoyed more than sitting while watching the construction workers every time there was some kind of remodeling going on in my house. Love the limestone wash.

    Thank you for commenting on my blog.

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  32. Oh, how facinating that must have been to watch..what a spectacular home! xx

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  33. these houses are to die for. how much fun. i can't wait til i can design my own house! :)

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  34. You seem to have some great homes to take pictures of on your walks!!! I liked the color of the brick on this one,,,,,,and I also prefer the neutral shutters......Fun to go by and see the progress I'll bet. Maryanne;)

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  35. uh-mazing. truly. remind me to call those spitzmiller dudes when i decide to buy a house..

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  36. I noticed the "completed" project too on Wednesday while out riding. I also am partial to the magnolia tree retaining wall. I rode by thinking, "they really did a great job with that wall." In response to the other commenters, I bet the lack of more ground cover has to do with the dry spell we're having in Atlanta. They probably either put something down that will sprout eventually or are waiting for a bit cooler weather.

    The limestone ball finials are an excellent touch. I don't like to be critical, as you know, but feel the only thing missing is a "real" roof commensurate with the rest of the fine accouterments (limestone, copper gutters, top notch architecture team, etc).

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  37. Thanks for a fascinating sequence of photographs. Isn't it fun to mix walks with an ongoing story? ... Mark

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  38. What a transformation - love the limewash, and the dormers are wonderful- now, wish we could have a peak inside...Such a fun post!!

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  39. Ok, first let me say that I am so jealous that you get to see all of these gorgeous homes on a regular basis... I would be OBSESSED if I lived near there! I absolutely LOVE the limewash. The house is given instant character, and it seems to blend beautifully with its surroundings. Thanks for sharing this amazing transformation! I am living vicariously through you!

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  40. Holly, is this house on Pinestream? If so, I re-worked the kitchen for its former owner fifteen years ago.

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  41. That's beautiful - thanks for letting us see it. I have to admit I've never heard of limewash, but then we don't have many brick houses out here on the West Coast. Also glad you pointed out the dormers as already being in place - I would have figured they'd been added without your note.

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  42. love seeing a beautiful transformation.

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  43. Wow! What a transformation! I absolutely love Spitzmiller and Norris' work. I wasn't familiar with limewash finishes, but consider me a fan now.

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