Classic Beauty

A 1940s Georgian home is instilled with a fresh attitude thanks to a devoted team of design talents

WHEN INTERIOR DESIGNER Emily Wyatt met her clients in 2017, she knew this wouldn’t be an ordinary project. They had purchased a 1940s Georgian home that had been virtually untouched since its construction, leaving it ripe for renovation. And best of all? “This couple was ready to tackle a big overhaul,” says Wyatt.

“I was impressed by the potential they saw in the house and, more so, their enthusiasm,” she adds. “Most would have been overwhelmed bringing this property up-to-date, but these clients were ready to roll up their sleeves and dive in.”

Another thing the couple brought in abundance was patience. There were no quick fixes when it came to architect Kate Mabry finessing the layout to better equip the home for both family life and entertaining. 

Her plans called for a multitude of modifications, including an expansion off the back of the house for a new kitchen and family room and staircases being moved and reformatted for better flow. With each change though, Mabry remained cognizant of the home’s history, based both on her design principles and at the behest of the homeowners.

“Collectively, we wanted to respect the home’s Georgian character but find a way to breathe new life into it,” says Mabry. “The goal was to preserve the idea of rooms and individual spaces, maintaining that sense of transition from one scale of space to another scale of space.”

Similarly, landscape architect Jonathan Bussell transformed the front yard to better align with the home’s Georgian facade. While he addressed an ill-suited driveway “not so affectionately referred to as ‘the donut,’ given its lack of proper vehicle circulation and guest parking,” Bussell also removed the property’s overgrown boxwoods to make way for a new bluestone walkway and fresh plantings that work to highlight the home’s symmetry.

Back inside, striking a balance—specifically the couple’s taste for antiques and classic English style with the reality of having two small children—was top of mind for Wyatt, and she gleaned inspiration from designer Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, one of England’s foremost authorities on blending traditional style into contemporary settings. With a blue-and-white color scheme as her baseline, Wyatt selected a bevy of indoor-outdoor fabrics that could withstand small children zipping through during pool parties, and also stand up to the traffic of guests the couple regularly hosts for corporate gatherings. “It was all about creating a classic and special backdrop, but remaining fresh and user-friendly,” says Wyatt.

Like the main home, the couple put their trust in the design team to spare no detail when planning the new pool house. “They were on board with everything we had to offer,” says Mabry. “They understood that the smallest of details can make a space feel right.” 

Notably, she worked with Bussell to seamlessly flow the pool deck’s brick hardscape onto the first floor, blurring the distinction between outdoors and in. “The idea was for it to feel like a charming cabana when it’s all open,” she adds, “and then you can close the doors and actually live in it.”

After three and half years, the home—with a new dose of youth, improved layout and plentiful Georgian character—was finally ready for its second act. “Working with clients who value design is always a treat,” says Wyatt. “But when you have their unwavering trust too, it’s the recipe for a really spectacular home.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Emily Wyatt, Wyatt Designs, (404) 839-0444; ARCHITECT Kate Mabry, AIA, MabryArch, (404) 274-5313; BUILDER Wright Marshall, Revival Construction, (404) 888-9886; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Jonathan Bussell, Jonathan Bussell Landscape Architect, (404) 805-1817;