Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An Atlanta House Tour




I want to share with you a special Atlanta house, one that has both inspired me and influenced my style of decorating. Belonging to a dear friend of mine, the house made a terrific impression on me during my first visit as a young 23 year old. All these years later, the house still never fails to charm me.

My friend purchased her home 60 years, a decision influenced by the fact that friends lived across the street. Even today, it’s a home that she continues to love, nurture, and decorate. Two things struck me upon my first visit: first, it’s filled with all kinds of collections and personal treasures. Family heirlooms and mementos, porcelain, shells, and books are all displayed with flair and gusto, something that gives the home great personality and warmth. I wish that some of the world’s too-perfectly decorated houses could borrow some of these treasures as I think they would go a long way to warm up those houses.

The other thing that I learned during that first visit is that classic, tasteful design never goes out of style. Lacquered walls, Chinoiserie, mirror, collections, and antiques- all of which make appearances in this home- trump decorating trends always. My friend’s stylish trappings make the home feel exactly like a Manhattan apartment within the shell of an Atlanta house.

By the way, there are a few things that my photos do not capture, but they are things that add to the pleasant atmosphere of the home. There is always a fragrant candle burning, one that imbues the house with an appealing fragrance. When I shot these photos a few weeks ago, the subtle scent of spruce filled the air; it smelled divine. Also, I have never visited her when music was not softly playing in the background. Most often, it’s the Great American Songbook. And finally, thanks to the previously mentioned lacquered and mirrored walls, the house positively comes alive at night. It looks so lovely bathed in soft light. It’s also the most fun time to visit as that’s when the conversation seems to be at its best!




Brown lacquered walls serve as an elegant and dramatic backdrop to various collections.




Boxes of all sorts- Limoges, silver, and ivory- are displayed on a living room side table.



A secretary stands in one corner of the living room and is filled with antique porcelain.





This ornate sterling silver porringer and spoon, purchased by the homeowner's mother-in-law in England, was used to feed all four of my friend's children.




A collection of framed dried flowers and leaves includes the homeowner's dried Lily of the Valley wedding bouquet.




The Reading Room is used as a repository for books, paintings, and objects. The walls are mirrored, while the wainscoting is covered in a trellis wallpaper that has been made to look antique.



A portrait of the Colonel, a family ancestor, is displayed prominently in the reading room. An antique chest holding antique porcelain sits beneath it.




When he married, the Colonel gave his bride a horse, a bridle, a saddle, and a crop as wedding gifts. The crop is displayed here alongside the Colonel's swagger stick.






Shells and shell-encrusted objects can be found throughout the house.




The petite antique bed was a display piece purchased from the downtown location of Rich's.




Dolls, once owned by the homeowner's mother, are now framed and hung in the bedroom.




Also hanging in the bedroom is this Horst photo of Hubbell Pierce, the New York entertainer with whom some of you might be familiar. Pierce was a native Atlantan and life-long friend of the homeowner. Above the Horst is a baby photo of Pierce.





A collection of antique evening bags is displayed on the powder room walls. Some of the bags belonged to the homeowner's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.





The silver chalice to the right is a family heirloom. During the Civil War, silver was often buried underground to escape notice by Union soldiers. The chalice's dents were caused by soldiers striking their swords into the ground in an effort to find hidden silver. Fortunately, this piece escaped detection.







The homeowner's love of cats is evident in her kitchen where a wall is devoted to cat-themed art. I especially like the framed quotation by Jean Cocteau, seen above.

21 comments:

  1. What an absolutely charming house.

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    1. So glad you like it, Dandy! The home definitely has a special place in my heart.

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  2. The whole place is marvelous, but what jumped out was the framed photograph of Hubbel Pierce,
    a person who recorded Cole Porter's songs in the late 1970s and one of those obscure figures
    one wants to know more about. In fact, though I have the songs on an old cassette, I had no
    idea what Mr Pierce looked like until now. How he sounded was like nothing else on earth~
    urbane, polished, aristocratic. In other words the ideal interpreter of Cole Porter's songs.

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    1. Toby, I knew that Mr. Pierce was somebody special the first time I saw that terrific photo. Funny enough, I have never heard any of his recordings. Surely my friend has a recording or two. I must ask her.

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  3. Anonymous9:56 AM

    I am a decorator in Canada. My wish is that people might one day understand, that this is an example of good taste, this is gracious living. Personality, soul, history, love of tradition and family so apparent here and so lacking in everyday life, especially in North America, is what makes a house a home. Thank you for sharing, here's to people seeing the light!!

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    1. Anonymous, my thoughts exactly! It's the collections, the mementos, and the physical remembrances of the past that imbue a home with personality and soul.

      You said it very well.

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  4. Anonymous10:26 AM

    What a gem, and what a contrast to the impersonal Lawrence house. Thank you, and more pictures please!

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  5. I second ANON 9:56. This home reminds me of my late MIL's home. Everything had a story to tell...and she told them well! The rooms are classic, personal and a word not tossed about too much these days: lovely. One of the very sad side effects of the internet is the globalization of sameness. If I never see another white/gray Sweedish/Belgium room again, I shall be a happier person! Can't remember which decorator was quoted (in House Beautiful, if I recall) talking about why people in the northern lights countries with snowy winters would want snowy interiors. Color, for me, is a warm embrace. Tell your wonderful friend, she is our hero.

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    1. Absolutely, color is essential to creating a warm environment- at least, it is to me!

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  6. Anonymous1:19 PM

    I second all of the comments above. One of the reasons that I prefer British House & Garden to pretty much any North American home decor magazine is because it features houses where the decorative elements (furnishings, art, etc.) weren't all purchased within the last five years under the direction of a decorator.

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  7. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Though I wouldn't have made all the same choices, I feel like I know your friend and that I would find her a lovely person. What more can we ask of decoration than that it be personal and articulate?

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  8. Jennifer, I love this home! What a wonderful display of treasures. Thank you for the inspiration.
    xo, Lissy Parker

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  9. Beautiful. This is obviously a well-loved and treasured home. So personal and inviting.

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  10. The only thing lacking for me in this otherwise lovely home are curtains. To me a room isn't complete without them.
    I'm sure there are lots more homes like this but we don't see them in magazines is because they aren't "trendy". That's too bad because this is really what decorating is all about. Making a home a reflection of the owners who live there.

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  11. Wow this is incredible. Love the reading room and the bedroom! And all her collections! Truly wonderful.

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  12. Anonymous4:33 PM

    Yes, it's rare to see a home like this anymore. In fact, it's funny, as I have many photos, art, collections around my home (not as many as your friend as I'm in my mid 30s and don't have much that's comparable to her except for lots of shells and family heirlooms). I had a real estate agent come to appraise my property in the event that we may have to move. I was told, in very clear terms, that I would need to speak to their "decorator" free of charge, as i have too much "clutter" (I am a bit of an OCD anal clean freak) and it's "too distracting to the eye" . People don't want homes like mine (which aspire to be homes like your friends') anymore. At least not people my age in my city (Toronto).

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    1. Unfortunately, it's the same situation here in Atlanta, too. I think that some people equate personal effects with clutter, something that I don't really understand.

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  13. Anonymous2:50 PM

    I know this house and if you think the photos were sophisticated, cool and chic: they don’t hold a candle to the owner!

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  14. Anonymous10:24 PM

    The first thing I thought when I saw that lovely collection of boxes was, 'What mischief could my cats arrange with those?' Now I see this owner is a fellow cat lover! She must have as much talent for teaching her pets as decorating her home.

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