It was a little more than a decade ago when a fun-loving pair of retired empty nesters downsized from their Brookhaven family home to a light-filled condo at Buckhead’s Park Regency. At the time, they tapped Atlanta design doyen Dan Carithers to decorate, and the scheme was classically his. Margaret Kirkland, then an up-and-coming designer at Carithers’ company, assisted.
Then, a few years after Kirkland founded her own firm, the lady of the house phoned, recalling Kirkland’s good taste and their excellent personal rapport. (Kirkland had first met the former floral designer at a friend’s wedding years before and has long remembered her as “the life of the party.”)
When it came to their interiors, the septuagenarians, who love to entertain, essentially gave Kirkland carte blanche. “The husband was very clear,” she says. “He said, ‘I want you to make all the decisions, but they have to be the right ones.’ He said we had to have a definitive vision, and I said, ‘No problem.’ ”
“I told them they were going to be like the Annenbergs, and Dan [Carithers] would definitely approve,” Kirkland adds of her tribute to the coral shades of Sunnylands, the famous Palm Springs estate near the the couple’s own California residence. “In our decorating changes, we would ask ourselves, ‘What would Dan think?’”
The playful color payoff is apparent upon entering this modern residence, where visitors are greeted by a vibrant glass bowl that the husband commissioned from a favorite California artist.
In the main volume of the apartment, color continues its reign. Kirkland’s go-to decorative painter, Brian Carter, created the swirling motifs in the master bath (in a shade matched to the wife’s nightgown) as well as the boundary-pushing geometric pattern in the living room. This room is anchored by a modern painting the couple picked up at a California art festival and features splashes of aqua, graffiti pillows by Pierre Frey and a plush rug that marries the space to the adjoining dining area. There, a slab of Cambria quartz tops a midcentury table surrounded by streamlined Lillian August armchairs. A quad of mod paintings by yet another Golden State talent accents the custom waterfall-edge console beyond.
In the master, Kirkland kept the upholstered toile walls her former boss installed but updated the room with modern lighting, Jonathan Adler nightstands and a sleek desk that doubles as a dressing table. The guest bedroom, in contrast, received quite the refresh, its towering four-poster replaced by a headboard in poppy-hued Schumacher linen, with jaunty glass balloon sculptures mounted above. The handsome study bears many hallmarks of Kirkland’s touch, but the man of the house specifically requested the metallic pewter leather armchairs. “He wanted me to match his Gucci loafers,” the designer says.