Best of Both Worlds

Despite the distance, city and country dwellers Linda Beth and Ed Loughlin prove that life in two locales is completely within reach.

Though it requires constant shuttling along I-985, Atlanta designer Linda Beth Loughlin and her husband, Ed, are perfectly happy resting their heads in two places. The empty nesters split their time between a modestly sized city home and a quaint country abode that they’ve lovingly dubbed “Tiger Lodge.” Located 100 miles outside Atlanta in Tiger, Georgia, the former hunting lodge—built in 1913 by a group of gentlemen who made the trek to North Georgia to hunt bear and turkey—has served as the Loughlins’ mountain retreat for nearly 20 years. Situated on 100 picturesque acres of apple and fruit orchards, it’s here in the country that the two enjoy taking walks, visiting neighbors and dining at pared-down local eateries. Once back in town, they hunker down at posh Muscogee Avenue, a fabled Buckhead neighborhood that touts some of the city’s most refined homes and talented designers.

Though divergent, the two homes are an inspirational boon to Loughlin’s decorating, as playing to two styles can make shopping lots of fun. She always knows at which home a treasured piece will best fit. Neither does distance serve as a hindrance to the designer, who started her business in 1988—joined in 2004 by assistant Rhode Fraser—and has built up a devoted word-of-mouth following since. “I started out doing it for friends but, when my last son went off to school, I decided I would just sort of hang out my shingle,” she laughs. “And it has been wonderful to me. I have not had a client yet who hasn’t become a friend.”

With her business now headquartered at The Galleries of Peachtree Hills, she’s seeing it grow stronger than ever. But, the designer insists, that doesn’t mean she’s without plenty of time and energy to spare. “I’ve got clients everywhere, and I hate to turn anybody down.”

LINDA BETH ON HAVING TWO HAUNTS… I guess since I’m a Gemini, it’s easy to have this split personality about decorating. In Atlanta, I’m able to have something more formal—yet comfortable—but up in Tiger, it’s warm and relaxed. We love to sit on the porch with a good book, enjoy the view and just sort of be ‘country.’ I decorate all the time in Atlanta, so I like the idea that Tiger Lodge isn’t particularly ‘decorated.’ I don’t stress over making it perfect.

HAVEN HAPPENSTANCE… I have lived in Atlanta all my life and always loved this complex on Muscogee. And then one day—I don’t know why—I happened to call a friend who lived here and asked if anything was available. She said there was one and that we needed to come get it in a hurry. And the rest is history.

ON PARING DOWN… Parting with certain pieces was one of the hardest things. But when you get down to deciding which things mean the most, it gets easier. The things that I thought I was going to miss the most, I love seeing in my children’s houses. Almost everything found a home, so it’s like I never had to leave them at all.

CITY LIVING… When we’re in town, we love to get together with friends for dinner, drinks or to go to a movie. We love La Grotta [Ristorante Italiano] and Café Lapin, and places in Virginia-Highland. Have you tried La Tavola? Delicious.

TIME IN TIGER… When I’m not relaxing at the house, I love to walk around the orchard. There are 100 acres of property divided among four families and the common area is all apples. It’s probably about a mile, or a mile-and-a-half around the whole of it. Several of my friends have come to the house in Tiger and said the same thing—that Tiger Lodge has soul. It seems to have its own spirit—and that’s nothing I’ve done to it.

RECENT PURCHASE… I recently found a neat Black Forest clock that I can’t wait to use in Tiger. It fits the vibe perfectly.

ON ROUGHING IT… Sometimes I feel like I’m hermetically sealed in Atlanta. You go from your air-conditioned house to your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned office to your air-conditioned shop. In Tiger, where it’s about eight degrees cooler, we have fans in every room and, like most old houses, it was built to catch the breezes and light. Even if it’s warmer, I like to open all the windows and doors and just let it be breezy.

STICKING POINT… Everyone wanted to get rid of the fireplace [in the master bath at Tiger Lodge], but I couldn’t stand to lose it. So we designed around it and put in a ventless old-fashioned gas stove. If I had it to do all over again, I would figure out a way to fit a tub in there. With the configuration, there wasn’t really room…but I’d work it out.

FRUITS OF HARVEST… Apple time is in October. Bob and Sterling Massee, our resident pomologists, cultivate nearly 15 varieties and provide us baskets upon baskets of them. I love to make apple crostata; the kitchen is great for cooking. In addition to apples, we have blackberries and peaches and raspberries and apricots and all of this fabulous corn. It’s like a little paradise.