Color Story

Lee Kleinhelter and T.S. Adams Studio inject a historic Dutch Colonial home with happy hues and classic character

When an Atlanta family decided to downsize to a circa-1935 Dutch Colonial in Buckhead, they were faced with a challenge: maintain the home’s historic charm while updating the residence to suit the needs of three teenagers and two active dogs. 

The first order of business: adding on a new master suite, editing the molding and lighting details, and gutting the bathrooms to refresh the home for the 21st century. “Bringing everything up to date was the main focus,” says interior designer Lee Kleinhelter, who worked alongside architecture firm T.S. Adams Studio to complete the property’s remarkable transformation. “This project was the perfect play on tying in old, beautiful antiques in a fresh, fun new way. And with their busy lifestyle, making sure we were using every inch to function for their needs was very important.”

Per the homeowner’s request for “happy, bold pops,” Kleinhelter infused the abode with an array of saturated, bright hues. When creating the overall color palette, she began with the front door, which is painted Benjamin Moore’s California Blue. “I’m a huge believer that the interior and exterior should feel like the same story, not a departure,” Kleinhelter says. “That’s what designing is all about. It’s not just a table or a lamp, it’s a story that starts at the exterior and ties through the entire house in a well-edited way that fits the client’s needs.”

Kleinhelter continued the door’s deep blue hue into the foyer—which is swathed in Carleton V’s Gatsby wallcovering—as well as throughout the home, painting the kitchen’s lower cabinetry a deep blue to stand out against the white marble backsplash and island. And because the kitchen is open to the family room and in close proximity to the entry and porte-cochère, creating easy flow and purposeful storage was paramount. Kleinhelter achieved a streamlined effect by eliminating hardware on nonfunctioning cabinetry and opting for a simple palette of black, white and dark blue.

To complement the blues throughout the home, Kleinhelter also incorporated contrasting red-orange tones, which were partially inspired by the homeowner’s vivid collection of artwork. In the dining room, for example, antique dining chairs re-covered in a fiery velvet (one of which also appears in the foyer) stand out against a neutral backdrop. “We love how this is unexpected but doesn’t feel modern—it’s all in the way you use color, finishes and textures.” notes Kleinhelter. “Being an older home we didn’t want to lose all of the charm or make it feel too new.”

Indeed, a mix of organic materials and the client’s antique accessories—a pair of vintage club chairs in the family room and a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk coffee table paired with Deco chairs in the living room, for example—anchor the home to its more traditional architecture. “It’s all a mix,” Kleinhelter says. “There is no formula; you just have to know how to layer and edit. Our client trusted us on every detail and we were all on the same page, which made the entire process so much fun.”                                  

INTERIOR DESIGN Lee Kleinheler, Pieces Inc., (404) 869-2476; ARCHITECT Tim Adams, T.S. Adams Studio, Architects, (404) 262-3499; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT John Howard, Howard Design Studio, (404) 876-7051; CONTRACTOR Nick Breiding, Breiding & Sons Construction Co.;