A Little Slice of Heaven

Amid the tree canopy of Buckhead, and with sweeping views of downtown, a new residence by designer John Oetgen offers an ethereal vision of tranquility

The model residence that John Oetgen recently completed at The Brookwood is just that—a model of efficiency and elegance. “The space was so light and open and big—it’s such a big condominium. It has nearly 10-foot ceilings with floor-to-ceiling glass,” the designer recalls. “When I first saw it, in the spring, I was looking out over lots of trees. The Brookwood itself is sustainable, and it’s the first LEED-certified residential building in the city. So it’s ‘green’ but I could also see green.”

Thus, it seemed only natural for Oetgen to base his color scheme on shades of green, obvious from the moment you step into the entrance hall. “I wanted to create a ‘gasp of tranquility,’ something tranquil but exciting at the same time,” he says. “I used mirrors on the wall—creating perfect symmetry—and a simple Chinese console at the end of the hall with a very minimal piece of art. And some gold benches add a little bit of Hollywood.”

But the painted walls here are the unquestionable pièce de résistance. “I love to do this myself, when the mood strikes me, so I just started painting trees! Because the Brookwood is all about the trees. In this neighborhood, when you look down, you see more trees than buildings,” he says. As for his artistic approach, “It’s the old idea of scenic papers—or hand-painted walls—done in a new, contemporary way.”

As it turned out, style choices were just as obvious to the designer as the color palette. “I started with the idea that someone from a traditional home—in one of our pocket neighborhoods along Peachtree Street—could be downsizing and moving into this. I wanted to incorporate things that they might have lived with in their previous home, as if they’d saved the best pieces to move in here. But perhaps they wanted to live a more contemporary life, so I  gave it a contemporary feeling, too.”

Working with a generously sized living space—one that includes a living room, dining room and kitchen as well as a breakfast room—Oetgen defined the separate spaces with a deft mix of old and new. Central to the living area, for instance, is a custom sofa that he designed himself. “It’s all about the details,” he says. “The nailhead trim is traditional. The damask-weave pillows are traditional. But it’s ‘tradition’ used in a contemporary way. And because the sofa sits in the middle of the room, I made the arms extra-thick so you can sit all the way around it. It gives you two levels of seating.”

Queen Anne chairs pull up to one side of a glass-topped dining table while, on the other, a clean-lined banquette echoes the “foggy” color of the nearby sofa. But on the opposite wall is an architectural element that may cause visitors to do a double-take: a fireplace set against the windows.

“You can pick up this fireplace and move it around; it weighs almost nothing! That’s such a contemporary notion,” says Oetgen. “And by putting that Chinese reproduction porcelain on top, you give it the feeling of a [traditional] mantel. The porcelain also adds great color to the room. It reminds me of colors you see here in the city in the spring.”

Variations of cool, soothing hues are constants throughout this residence. But the designer admits that the master bedroom is done in one of his favorite colors. “I call it ‘heaven.’ If you put all of the colors of the sky in a blender—the clouds, the blue sky, the myths, the dreams—this is the color you’d get,” he explains. “This is a very large bedroom and I had to make it intimate, so I put all this gathered silk on the wall to give it a warm, tonal feeling. It’s just very simple and lovely and restful.”

It’s a little slice of heaven in Atlanta, indeed.


About the Brookwood

The Brookwood’s architecture blends with the surrounding neighborhood—an area of 1920’s and 30’s brick and stone buildings and eclectic homes. The façade is based in the tradition of Georgian style architecture. Cornices and other details create a strong expression of base, middle and top which recalls period buildings in a contemporary manner. At 18 stories tall, The Brookwood features more than 200 homes ranging in size from 1,200 to 2,900 square feet, as well as a selection of penthouse residences. All residents of The Brookwood are also automatic members in the Brookwood Club, a luxurious combination of activities, facilities, and concierge-level services, including a state-of-the-art fitness center with yoga room and towel service in the clubhouse and at the junior Olympic pool. There’s also a 24-hour doorman.

For more information, visit thebrookwood.net.







The Brookwood is one of the first LEED-certified residential buildings in Atlanta. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance “green” buildings. Here’s how they achieved LEED certification.

  • Use of paint and carpeting systems that reduce indoor air contaminants
  • Pressurized hallways that provide continuous fresh air
  • Abundant use of glass for added sunlight
  • Pre-conditioned outdoor air ventilation and monitoring
  • Bicycle parking and storage areas
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Water-source heat pumps fed by a cooling tower for lower costs
  • Low-emissivity glass for better insulation
  • Recycling chute
  • Energy efficient insulation throughout
  • Use of rainwater to irrigate gardens

John Oetgen, Oetgen Design Inc., Atlanta ; (404) 352-1112