A Finger on the Pulse

Whether you’re a trendsetter or a trend bucker, it never hurts to be in the know.

Who knew those groovy shag carpets and avocado-and-gold kitchens would fade away, only to be replaced by hardwood floors and granite countertops? In search of the next hardwood floors (or shag carpets, for that matter), Meg R. Sparwath went straight to the best sources we know—some of Atlanta’s top designers, architects and remodelers. Here are their insights into Atlanta’s current home trends, from floors to ceilings and everything in between.


“Today clients understand the merit of strong, quality materials like mahogany windows, hand-planed flooring and plaster or skim-coat plaster walls.” —Jackye Lanham, Jacquelynne P. Lanham Designs Inc.

“Lime-washed finishes on anything from floors to ceilings to cabinets are creating an understated elegance that many homeowners are requesting right now.” —Matthew Quinn, Design Galleria

“People are intrigued by concrete. We have put it everywhere–floors, showers, countertops and walls. Now that there are better ways to mix it, seal it and keep it from staining and cracking, it’s opened up a whole new world.” —Warner McConaughey, HammerSmith

Clients are requesting lasting details with timeless quality, such as iron railing and limestone flooring. Room design by Suzanne Kasler, Suzanne Kasler Interiors. Photograph by Erica George Dines.



The new green choice in flooring is bamboo, a sustainable and quickly renewable resource. Wide plank floors for hardwoods are still popular, as well as stone floors in the larger 18″x 18″ size. Limestone seems to be the floor of choice.” —Karen King, Home ReBuilders

“Clients are striving to be more sustainable. They are requesting flooring made from reclaimed wood and rapidly renewable wood resources such as bamboo–products that are approved by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.” —Greg Palmer, Harrison Design Associates

“Large-plank wood floors are still being used, not in a traditional way, but in more of a pattern, like herringbone and mitered edges in a picture frame motif.” —Mallory Mathison, Mallory Mathison Inc.



“Satin and polished nickel are the two high-end hardware finishes that are most popular.” —Karen King

“Unlacquered brass hinges and door hardware is always appropriate in classical architecture. Over time, the finish achieves a warm patina reminiscent of antique hardware.” —Liza Bryan, Liza Bryan Interiors

“Pewter, iron, nickel and chrome are all excellent choices.” —Jackye Lanham

“Living hardware finishes such as satin nickel, unlacquered brass and oil-rubbed bronze are tremendously popular because they evolve and change over time; they become more visually interesting with use.” —Greg Palme

Open shelving—or no shelving—in lieu of wall cabinets is a trend that continues to thrive. Architecture by Harrison Design Associates; room design by Jillian Pritchard Cooke of DES-SYN. Photograph by Erica George Dines.


“Wood countertops–people are choosing them more and more often. We aren’t talking about your typical maple butcher block here. Zebra or tiger wood are exotic and popular.” —Becky Sue Becker, Designs by BSB and NKBA local chapter president

“Corian surfaces are back, and honed absolute granite is also popular.” —Jim Choate, Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein

“White marble is still the most requested kitchen countertop material, although clients are now using marbles in other colors as well.” —Matthew Quinn

Rich marbles are still some of the most requested materials for kitchen surfaces. Room design by Matthew Quinn, Design Galleria. Photograph by Erica George Dines.



“People wantsmaller, well-done, more intimate spaces, rather than the big, two-story foyer, over-the-top houses. It’s sort of like trading in our SUVs.” —Warner McConaughey

“Homeowners are using spaces for multiple purposes. A large laundry room might also function as a gift wrapping area, a place for grooming the family pet, or even a studio to indulge in a passion for painting.” —Greg Palmer

“Desks are coming back to kitchens, but they are no longer the ‘four-foot with cubbies’ versions. People want command centers with easy access to their computers and electronics–phones, iPods, PDAs. They can be hidden behind large pocket doors.” —Becky Sue Becker

Lime-washed hardwood floors with an antiqued finish are de rigueur in new “old” homes. Room design by Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors, and Nancy Pendergrast, Summerour Interiors. Photograph by Erica George Dines.



We asked the experts for a trend that’s out, or one they wish was out. They had no trouble coming up with a style or element that has worn out its welcome—if it ever received one.

“Please don’t ever show me another ‘Early American’ stain color on wood floors.” —Matthew Quinn

“Again, simplify. We don’t need all those multiple shower sprayers. All that’s needed is one good shower head.” —Warner McConaughey

“What’s out? Rampant asymmetry. Too darn many gables! Simplify the geometry. Over-scaled is out, too. No more overly high ceilings.” —Jim Choate

“I am tired of stacked stone and overused architectural elements like nestled gables. And my pet peeve is dormers that are too big and heavy. They should be delicate, more window and less dormer.” —William Litchfield, William B. Litchfield Residential Designs

“I wish ceiling fans with light kits would go away forever. And lamp harps that are too high, so you can see the hardware and bulb under the shade … and poorly made, inexpensive lampshades.” —Mallory Mathison