Anything but Ordinary
Architect Peter Block and interior designer Joel Kelly create timeworn beauty for a new house in Buckhead.
“It’s a boutique hotel for two with occasional guests,” says architect Peter Block of the grand Shutze Award-winning home he designed in Buckhead. The permanent guests are Marcia and Mark Miller, the CEO and CFO, respectively, of baby clothing and gifts behemoth Mud Pie.
Marcia, the company’s founder, wanted to build a sanctuary where she could not only come home to her husband and cocker spaniel Chester, but also welcome her son and daughter’s future families. “We knew Peter wouldn’t give us ordinary,” she says. “We wanted an eclectic house and he achieved that.”
In turn, Block, whose calling card is built on historical-influenced architecture, designed a 7,000-square-foot house for the couple that is split into wings and straddles the line between Old World and new. “It has kind of a fictional history,” says Block. “It looks like an Old English home built in the ’20s that has been really well maintained.”
For the exterior, Block combined an Old English and an old American vernacular—steep rooflines, lime-washed brick and multi-paned windows—while a Belgian influence is evident in the interior, with painted wood beams and thick plaster walls. “You feel a sense of substance with thick walls, like the house has been here a long time,” says Block, who enhanced several walls with unexpected deep-set interior steel windows.
Though her brand is built on a precious aesthetic, Miller wanted anything but for the decor of her home. The couple was fortunate to find interior designer Joel Kelly, who got behind their vision. “The directive, as I saw it, was not to get in the way,” Kelly says plainly. “We have a saying in the industry: ‘Good architecture doesn’t need to be decorated.’”
The only space where Kelly seems to have broken this rule was in the cozy, wood-paneled library. “The library is the most designed room in the house,” says the designer. “We found an antique map of London divided into 24 panels, so the room was designed around that find taking up an entire wall.”
Furnishing a space with such arresting light and scale was a challenge perfectly suited for Kelly, known for his masterful editing. Together with Miller, he scoured Scott Antique Markets for accents and oddities that felt as though they had been there forever. “I enjoyed collecting quirky pieces, which my mother refers to as ‘quite odd,’” Miller says laughingly of the vintage scale that sits at the top of her stairs and the trio of cowbells on the living room sofa table. Another score was a bust by one of Rodin’s pupils that Miller found in Paris. “The house is peppered with unusual objects and it feels collected and authentic,” says Kelly.
Though the house is dramatic in scale, the design team consciously established a sense of welcoming instead of formality, intimacy instead of austerity. “We weren’t trying to impress with this house, but invite,” says Kelly, who achieved that subtle balance through a mostly muted color palette and mix of high and low pieces.
Because most of the house is plastered, it forms a warm envelope for cool colors. “There are little dashes of color every now and then, especially the orange,” says Kelly, who stacked salvaged books in the living room and lined up vintage transferware in the dining room to introduce those hues.
“I think that one of the keys to this home is that nothing is too precious,” says Kelly. “You feel perfectly happy to come in and relax with the family that invited you.”