In the living room, artist Sarah Emerson’s painting of a deer commands attention, thanks to its prominent placement above the fireplace. Given the painting’s strong colors and composition, Brown decided to enhance the piece by placing antique deer antlers next to it. In the center of the space, a custom Bradley Hughes table provides an anchor for three separate seating areas. Emerson is represented by Whitespace Gallery.
Designer Robert Brown is taken with artist Robert Kuo’s Peking Glass vases, especially when grouped en masse on a McGuire table in the foyer. Depending on the season, flowers or branches are often displayed in them. The painting is by Thornton Dial. The Lucite chair is by Geoffrey Bradfield, available through Travis & Company.
The designer’s skill at mixing old and new is beautifully showcased in the foyer. A brass-framed antiqued mirror adds patina to the space, as do the antique console and antique bergere from Jane Marsden Antiques & Interiors, the latter still wearing its original fabric. An ottoman upholstered in an Old World Weavers striped print is tucked under the console for additional seating. The artwork is by Don Cooper, who is represented by Sandler Hudson Gallery.
Challenged by the study’s dark paneled walls, Brown brought light into the room through his use of mirrors, acrylic accessories and a pale-toned rug from Rugs by Robinson. The designer crafted a more modern backdrop for artist
Liana Repass’ pastel on paper—hung above the mantel—by wrapping the chimney breast in a Phillip Jeffries sateen fabric.
Clean-lined furniture, modern lamps and a painting by artist Jimmy O’Neal provide contemporary counterpoints to the study’s traditional paneled walls. Brown chose a Rogers & Goffigon blue-gray plaid fabric for the sofa, a nod to the husband’s English roots. The artwork on the side table is by Tom Swanston.
Lamps from Baker flank a bed by Hickory Chair. The mirrors feature shagreen-like frames.
A soft color palette and sumptuous textiles envelope the master bedroom. The sofa is covered in a Rogers & Goffigon fabric, while the A. Rudin slipper chair is upholstered in a damask by Romo. Paired with a Lucite cocktail table from Travis & Company, the pieces create an intimate sitting area. The screen is from William Word Antiques, and the room is anchored by a rug from Stark Carpet.
Designers often find themselves playing marital counselor or psychologist, but diplomat? In a way, the latter might accurately describe Atlanta designer Robert Brown’s role when decorating a young family’s Buckhead home. It wasn’t that the homeowners were at odds. Far from it. Rather, Brown was charged with negotiating a peace accord between the home’s classical architecture and the homeowners’ cache of ultra-contemporary art. As Brown succinctly puts it, “The challenge was in coming to the middle ground.”
Because the owners’ art was to be the focal point of the interiors, everything was chosen to enhance the collection. Notes Brown, “If art is a major consideration, you have to make sure that you think of what the backdrop will be.” In this case, the designer created a neutral background by painting most of the home’s walls chalky white, a color often used in museums. And yet, fabrics and accessories in shades of dusty pastels were introduced to soften the “sturdy” architecture and bold artwork.
Furniture presented another opportunity for Brown to “bridge the gap” between old and new. In the living room, traditional antiques—a holdover from the owners’ previous house—stand alongside contemporary, clean-lined furnishings. Nowhere, though, is this generational mix of furnishings more apparent than in the master bedroom, where classical furniture shapes and an elegant folding screen mix with a modern Lucite cocktail table and a soft, contemporary color palette.
The husband’s study is where Brown’s sensitivity to balance and harmony proved especially valuable. Taking an iconoclastic approach to decorating a classic, dark wood-paneled room, Brown bypassed the expected traditional furnishings in favor of contemporary pieces that don’t compete with the room’s eclectic art. “The upholstery and furnishings could stand on their own, and yet they don’t overpower what the art is doing,” he explains.
While a mix of such diverse elements might seem incompatible, Brown succeeded in striking a most attractive compromise. Thanks to his gimlet eye and design savvy, the designer was able to meld everything to create a harmonious environment. Call it picture perfect.