When a couple of empty-nesters decided to downsize from a Sea Island manse and return to Atlanta, they called upon longtime friends—architect Norman Askins and interior designer Jackye Lanham—to reimagine a grand Southern home on a smaller scale. Like a classic storybook, this New American-style cottage holds timeless appeal that fits its homeowners “just right.”
Charm and compactness were paramount to realizing the cozy bungalow, “but not at the expense of elegance and grace,” says the architect, who made up for the lack of space with precious details: interior windows, Gothic-inspired millwork, chevron paneling and custom molding.
In order to make the small, two-story house live large, Askins reworked the hallmarks of the grand Southern home—a gracious staircase, expansive hallways and large rooms for entertaining—to a cozy effect. For instance, with the signature hallways removed completely, rooms easily flow from one to the next. Some of them even serve double duty, like the dining room/stairwell combination that leads off the succession of small rooms.
With beautiful bones in place, Lanham stepped in to personify the home’s storybook charm. Known for her signature sweep of soothing colors and a penchant for collections, Lanham filled the cottage with the couple’s own heirloom furnishings and treasures. “It’s like playing in a dollhouse,” says the designer. “The fun was taking the best they owned and making all the pieces fit.” Realizing that small spaces require simple lines and a degree of restraint to keep them from feeling cluttered, Lanham created interiors both traditional and refined. Case in point: the living room, layered with antiques and dark woods, is at once formal and warm. “I call it grown-up sophisticated,” she says.
Throughout the cottage, sun-washed walls in soft white, green and blue make rooms feel larger while providing a backdrop for the couple’s collections. In the family room, a mix of patinaed train lanterns mounted on wall brackets creates a sculptural focal point. “I love the beauty of objects. The accumulation of things enhances a naturally-evolved home,” says Lanham, who gave the couple’s sparkling antique perfume bottle collection pride of place in the master bedroom.
To enhance the play between cozy and sophisticated, the cottage proved ideal for Lanham’s signature fabric flourishes. She dressed up the master bedroom with a romantic canopy bed, hung constructed valances in the family room and added dressmaker details to slipcovered chairs in the dining room. Carrying over that attention to detail to the powder room, the designer took a more-is-more approach to the three-foot-wide space. “I decided to go for it and charm it up to the nth power,” says the designer, who skirted the sink, wallpapered the walls and put in a marble backsplash.
“It’s perfect in architecture and it works perfectly for a couple; it’s a perfect house,” gushes Lanham. Indeed, the small house with big style proves to be an ideal fit for its owners—a happy ending.
INTERIOR DESIGN Jacky Lanham, Jacquelynne P. Lanham Designs, Inc. 472 East Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta 30305. (404) 364-0472; jackyelanham.com ARCHITECTURE Norman Askins, Norman Davenport Askins Architect. 2995 Lookout Place NE, Atlanta 30305. (404) 233-6565; normanaskins.com LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE Rick Anderson, Richard Anderson, Landscape Architect. 27 8th Street NE, Atlanta 30309. (404) 892-1788; richardandersonla.com