A Breath of Fresh Air

Easy elegance is the order of the day at a Highlands mountain house by Atlanta designer John Oetgen.

The Highlands house owned by Claude and Ann Sullivan is, like the mountain it’s perched on, a picture of quiet beauty. It’s a beautiful balance of informal elegance, like stepping outside—a breath of fresh air.

That’s due in large part to designer, and Highlands neighbor, John Oetgen, who helped the couple renovate their mountain retreat. And first on the agenda was to reorient some spaces to take full advantage of the breathtaking views.

The former kitchen, for instance, is now the dining room. “We opened it up because the main view was right there,” Oetgen says. “Originally, it had very few windows—just this funny corner window over the sink. We opened it up with all these doors out onto the terrace, so you can step right out onto the terrace with its beautiful views. And we didn’t add any fancy curtain treatments. I mean, this is a mountain house—the whole look was supposed to be very simple.”

Simplicity is carried through the color palette, too. While many designers might have taken their color cues from the dining room’s stunning rug (one of many the owners have collected in their travels around the world), Oetgen found his inspiration in a more unexpected source: a pair of lamps with bases made of pipes from an old French organ. “They’re painted beautifully and their background color inspired the whole scheme,” Oetgen says. “And Ann adored the color—a smoky aquamarine.”

While aquamarine is predominant in the dining room, it plays a supporting—but equally important—role in the living room. Here, it’s a refreshing accent to rich jewel tones, played out in lush velvets and leathers. Throughout the room, too, are unexpectedly elegant pieces, including a 19th-century chinoiserie table and a 1950s Venetian glass floor lamp in a green hue. “We even hung a globe in there, because they’re always going around the world,” Oetgen says.

It may be the master bedroom, however, that’s most surprising in this mountain house. In a complete departure from the dark-
paneled living room, this light-flooded space is wrapped with Palladian blue walls and decked out primarily in chartreuse paisley linen—the epitome of restful and relaxing. Meanwhile, that ever-perfect balance of casual and chic is achieved by adding an 18th-century Gustavian table and a bedside chest of the same genre.

But the true measure of success in this home’s redo lies in how Oetgen infused the owners’ travel collections, love of color and sense of style. “This couple has a vast personality,” the designer says. And it shows.