California Cool Comes to Atlanta in This Idea-Packed Showhouse

It's hard to believe the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 2020 Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens was originally built in the '90s. Post-renovation, its luxurious style is utterly timeless.

June 26, 2020

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

California Dreaming

The Santa Barbara-style estate set on six private acres in Atlanta's posh Buckhead neighborhood is a testament to the difference 15 designers and four landscape architects can make when they focus on a specific family's needs instead of dialing their designs up to 11 (as is common in group projects like this one). "There was so much restraint in this showhouse," Melanie Turner, the project's honorary chair, explains. "It's calm, it's simple, there are fewer pieces in each of the rooms, but what is in there is very special and more purposeful."

Reimagined Villa

Turner asked the designers to imagine a couple with children relocating to Atlanta from southern California, and to reflect their home state's coastal style.

Doing so involved taking the house "down to the studs," she says. The 11,000 square feet of airy, yet intimate, living space includes a showstopping glass-walled family room addition, a new outdoor pool with a built-in sectional and fire pit, one-of-a-kind finishes and spectacular art.

Dramatic Entry

The home's rotunda has stunning dimensions but, "while vertically dramatic, it was a fairly compact space to try to enhance with furnishings," says designer Mark Williams. His muse was nature, and the home's indoor/outdoor atmosphere inspired him to create a soft, subtle femininity counterbalanced with “a certain grounded strength” in the space. A graphic, botanical Alexander McQueen area rug and a portrait by artist Fabiola Jean-Louis anchor the design.

Steady Landing

"Stair halls can be tricky," Williams says, "because you want to light them dramatically, but you must also light them effectively. Probably more than any area of the house, you want to be sure that people can see clearly when they are on the stairs!" The multiple etched-glass teardrops in the Apparatus "Lariat" light fixture he chose complements the home's architecture perfectly. The trio of delicate mixed-media sculptures by Blake Dowling Weeks, in turn, provide "a beautiful focal point at the top of the stairs that wouldn't compete with the large-scale painting which dominates the upper stair hall," Williams explains. The pieces suit the space because Weeks intended them for the space: "we wanted something special in that location, so we simply described our overall vision to him and let him do his thing," Williams says.

Boy's Bedroom

Dallas designer Josh Pickering had a "more mature and somewhat scholarly" young man in mind as he designed a bedroom around the idea of a modern-day world tour. Campaign-style elements like tented curtains and the suspended canopy share space with classical, abstract and floral motifs. The custom black lacquer desk reinforces a principle Pickering considers in other projects as well. "Bedrooms are all being designed as more fully-equipped suites these days," he says. "You have to have extra seating, extra lamps, and always a desk. Everyone does some amount of work at home, and you need work surfaces everywhere. I like to include a desk as one of the bedside tables wherever I can."

Girl's Bedroom

Augusta, Georgia based designer Brittany Cason is the mother of two young girls so her inspiration for this eclectic, energetic bedroom was close to home. "Both of my daughters are inspired by art and have quite the eye for design and artwork." She complemented this exuberant assemblage of paintings and objects with graphic Schumacher wallpaper — "selected to define and give our space the dramatic detail it deserved" — and Schumacher fabric for the floor pillows. Tip: Don’t know where to start when mixing patterns? Reach for multiple prints from a single producer. Cason believes there's no such thing as a child who's too young to have antiques in her or his room. “Your youth is when one should be introduced to history,” she says. "Antiques are what dreams — past and present — are made of."

Guest Suite

Atlanta designer Jared Hughes drew his inspiration for the home's guest suite from a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, an iconic route flanked with "chic hotels with Italian and Spanish old world charm. I really wanted to play with the transportive, romantic, warm vibes you feel there," he says. The magnificent, mural-scale wallpaper is his own Big Sur design, produced with and for Gracie Studio. "It features moments from that part of California: rocky cliffs, loads of varieties of plants, whales, seals, waves, even the wild zebras of San Simeon. The wallpaper came first and the rest of the room followed."

Guest Bath

Farrow & Ball's Bancha, a midcentury-inspired olive green named for Japanese tea leaves, counterbalances the graphically veined stone Hughes chose for the guest bathroom's floors, shower and vanity. "It wraps the room and creates such an environment that just flows beautifully from the bedroom," Hughes says. To add an antique element to the space and tone down the contemporary feel, he chose a striking Dutch faux-tortoiseshell and burlwood mirror.

Luxe Lounge

"I knew the feel of the house was to be light and airy," says Atlanta designer Kati Hardwick. "I wanted to keep the walls, upholstery and drapery just that, with pops of the darker antiques to give the room some warmth. If you find yourself wanting to sink into the nubbly seats Hardwick chose for the space, you're not alone. "I'm always about texture with any fabrications I use and right now bouclé is huge,” she says. "I knew I wanted to bring that in with the sofas as they are the heart and center of the room." The carved African sculpture in the window was a key detail for Hardwick as well. She loves using sculpture and unique vessels as conversation starters in nooks and hallways.

Master Bedroom

Atlanta'a Phoebe Howard took her inspiration for the home's tranquil master bedroom from the concept of a "vacation inside of a room." She accented a base layer of pale, plush textiles with warm-toned woods, vintage wicker and bamboo, baskets and carved accents. "All of these items had a somehow tropical connection to me, reinforced by the beautiful photograph Pagoda Sunrise, by David Hillegas, taken in Bali. This gave the room the ability to not only relax you, but also to transport you to far away far away exotic destinations." When it comes to assembling a bedroom that resonates with one's personal conception of peace and quiet, "I would say to try and identify which type of rooms make you feel the most rested and recharged," Howard says. "For some this is neutral spaces, but others need and crave color. Your bedroom is not a place to fight against your true attraction for schemes that bring you the most pleasure and happiness."

Master Bath

The stunning master bath's story begins with its materials. "To achieve that quintessential Cali vibe, we used calm colorways and focused our attention on bringing nature into the design," says Atlanta's Cydney Mitchell. The hand-crafted and hand-glazed terracotta tile from Morocco and the dramatic onyx slabs were inspired by the rocky cliffs and seas of earth tones of the California coast."

That all sounds quite logical, but the execution was tricky. “The biggest factor in the symmetrical space is that we wanted to draw your eye to the beautiful iron window with a tub set in the center,” Mitchell explains. “We then added the four book-matched slabs, and from there felt it would only work if both sides were also consistently symmetrical, leaving no distractions for the eye. Funny enough, we explored close to 25 various layouts and revisions to the plans before we settled on the final design.”

All in the Details

"The onyx on the floor and the vanity countertops is from Ciot," Mitchell says. "We saw and designed around it because it is clearly stunning. The organic, raw and perfect simplicity of the ombré colors reminded us of the varying layers of sediment in the California cliffs. Additionally, slabs are like jewelry, and should make a strong statement."

Master Closets

If the figures at the end of this hallway arrest your gaze immediately, Mitchell's design has done its work. "The chevron floor pattern secretly draws your eyes into the space without you ever noticing it. Very sneaky!" There's a lot going on in this space, to put it mildly, but each element is so gentle that their cumulative effect is harmonious rather than overwhelming. "We wanted the art to complement the chic rose gold mirror finish that adds just the right touch of elegance, while the fume glass finish and LED lighting exude sophistication and refinement … a perfect pairing for the Mona Kuhn artwork," Mitchell says.

Epic Closet Space

With gleaming brass sculptures and dapper Victoriana, this half of the master suite's closets is both stylish and playful, not unlike the icon who inspired it. Local art gallery "Jackson Fine Art was kind enough to donate the art in both master closets," Mitchell says. "We wanted this photograph [of David Bowie, by Steve Schapiro] to signify a strong, desired, well-dressed and –traveled individual that would be dressing every day in the space, just like David." The space has a capsule wardrobe of its own. “The vitrines feature various assortments of vintage Victorian collars and cuffs," she adds. "We thought this was a fun addition to the space and liked seeing them paired next to the modern clothing collection provided by Miller Brothers."

Study

Atlanta designer Bob Brown found inspiration for this study in abstract artist Brett Smith's work. "I had just seen Brett [Smith]’s new work and that was the jumping off point," he says. "I wanted to do something really chill and casual." Brown juxtaposed the Brett Smith abstract art installation with a mix of furniture. "You will notice that there are no 'pairs' in the space." He explains that the key to choosing pieces for an installation like this one is “all about not being intimidated with letting an art installation dominate a wall. [These pieces] work well because the frames are super simple in a raw oak. Brett was very specific about the order, too, so everything was well balanced. The spacing was also important; I wanted just enough space to let them breathe but still feel as if they are one.”

Kitchen

Natalia Makarova's custom cabinet firm designed the kitchen in natural tones that create subtle drama. A deep ebony stain on the virtually hardware-free cabinetry echoes the graphic veins in the stone she chose for the island and countertop. A corner shelf features an eclectic mix of pottery, books, neo-primitive sculpture and a scattering of pyrite cubes to add a note of elegance.

Hospitality Suite

Topography Home furnished the home's glamorous hospitality suite with unforgettable details like this pair of Caracole Glimmer of Hope chairs, cast in solid brass to mimic the look of coral branching up from the ocean floor. Lighter-than-air Caracole pieces like the acrylic All Clear pedestal side table and the vintage gold bracelet-inspired Bijoux coffee table add entertaining space without contributing visual weight. Chromed display cabinets and Regina Andrew Modern Silver Tree lamps extend the room's sumptuous symmetry.

Living Room

"Adding a large-scale plant to a space is a great way to add interest and bring the outdoors in," Atlanta designer Amy Morris says. "I love to maximize the ceiling height with a tall tree — it draws your eye upwards. I didn't want to overpower the architectural details of this space and felt the airiness of the olive tree branches complemented it perfectly." The accessories she chose for the hearth are also an unexpected element. "Ceramic spheres are a great alternative to traditional gas logs or wood for a more transitional space," she explains. "Select a sphere size that is proportionate to the scale of your fireplace and create a graduated stack for a clean, contemporary look."

Family Room

The glass walls and custom iron windows that make this family room so spectacular also make it something of a design challenge. "We couldn’t hang art!” designer Melanie Turner explains. She created custom plastered poles to hang pieces like this painting, and the room's television rests on an artist's easel. The space's palette draws on hues like traditional Italian terra cotta and moss. The glass walls mean that accessories need to be attractive from all angles. "The back of the easel has moss on it," Turner says.

Dining Room

In this vignette by Wolf Design Group, a 16-piece, wall-mounted mixed-media series by Pascal Pierme creates a graphic backdrop for the moss-filled antique bowl placed atop the dining room's custom table and chairs. Have you noticed yet that there are almost no patterns in the home's common areas? That's very much by design, honorary chair Melanie Turner says. Bespoke furnishings in easygoing tones reign supreme.

Vestibule

Australian-born, Atlanta-based Tara Dennis developed the concept for this charismatic vestibule from the black-and-white street art (by client and friend Alex Savidis) she chose to adorn it. She loves strong statements and bold spaces, so Made Goods’s Alfred lounge chair was an intuitive pick. "It's made from hammered black iron and is light in weight but strong in personality," she says. "I love this chair so much that I purchased this exact item for my own apartment! The personality that comes through in the vestibule is a true reflection of my own personal aesthetic."

Mud Room

"For the laundry and mud room, we loved the idea of playing around with the literal meanings of the space — the mud room is a space that contains mud, an organic matter, so we decided to take an organic and natural perspective for the design of the space," Dennis says. Don't be shy about making design choices like these in a rough-and-tumble room. "Using a light material in a 'working' space that will get rougher use is fine as long as the spec of the material is of a high enough performance to withstand rough use — soft timbers would not be a good idea, but a more dense timber that doesn't easily mark would be suitable," she adds. As for the graphic flooring that carries from the mud room into the laundry, "terrazzo is a wonderful material that has a long and varied history and we are excited it is making a comeback," Dennis says. "Our Australian studio has been leaning heavily into terrazzo over the past few years, so we are delighted that it's starting to pull through in the U.S. market, as it adds an intrigue and depth to a space that is unachievable with a standard floor tile or stone slab."

Laundry

"The laundry is a space where items are washed, so we worked with the idea of being 'washed up'—on a beach — and decorated with a coastal, beachy, relaxed concept in mind," Dennis explains. "The photography at the end of the laundry is by Alex Savidis. We had all of his prints in the laundry, mud room and vestibule printed and signed by him in Sydney [where her firm has its second headquarters], and then I carried them back in my hand luggage to Atlanta. So it's a little nod to our Aussie home."

This particular laundry is a space where four-legged family members get a scrubbing as well, thanks to the addition of a pet washing station, at left. "Perfect for homeowers that need to quickly rinse off their pet from a play outside before letting them back into the main house!"

Indoor Pool

Designer Melanie Millner wanted to create a space "that provided a relaxing retreat rather than just a place to swim laps," she says. "Architectural elements such as the planters and concrete bench give permanence, while the custom handwoven Bolivian hammocks welcome you in regardless of the weather conditions outside." A monochromatic palette lets the greenery in the property's expansive yard and the water of the pool itself complement the warm, pale mineral and textile tones.

The Art of Lounging

Why choose between basking in the glow of the fire at the center of the conversation pit and dangling your feet in the pool when you can indulge in both? A plush white sectional surrounds a sculptural fire feature and creates a dramatic gathering area that's nearly flush with the surface of the water surrounding it.

Modern Patio Dining Area

Pull up a chair on this sun-dappled patio on a temperate evening, and you could be forgiven for imagining yourself on the California coast.

Outdoor Idyll

Technically speaking, Atlanta and Santa Barbara are more than 2,200 miles from one another, though they couldn't feel closer than in this airy, light, open-to-the-outdoors California-reminiscent home in the heart of Atlanta. But in all of her projects, honorary chair Melanie Turner is a proponent of design decisions "that share your experiences and where you've been," she says. She and her collaborators cultivated that exchange beautifully here.

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