Colorful Turn

Strategic space planning and a fresh infusion of color and pattern transform the way this Northwest Atlanta home functions and feels

Designated task areas such as gift wrap rooms and home offices in a floor plan are a luxury—if they are utilized and enjoyed. But, if they aren’t needed, they become nothing more than awkward storage closets. Such was the case when a family with two young boys moved into their Northwest Atlanta home built in 2010. Working with Matt Brownlow of Brownlow & Sons, designers Melanie Millner and Katie Moorhouse of The Design Atelier renovated the kitchen, ancillary rooms and upgraded finishes throughout to make the home live large for its new owners. “There was plenty of room for everything they wanted, but they asked us to update and customize the kitchen and rework the adjacent spaces to suit their specific needs,” says Moorhouse.

In the kitchen, the duo relocated appliances and moved door openings to improve function and flow. New custom cabinets offer a clean, classic look while providing storage and specialized compartments—including a full coffee station with water supply and lighted display cabinet. “The homeowner is very well-organized, so the kitchen had to be extremely efficient,” says Marcel Olariu, cabinet designer and principal of Kingdom Woodworks. “Everything down to the silverware, coffee cups and small appliances was accounted for in the design.” The gift wrap room and a small office combined to create a larger home office and mudroom—something better suited to a family with little boys.

After restructuring the workrooms, Millner and Moorhouse turned to furnishing the home’s empty spaces. “This house was bigger than their former home. They didn’t have furniture for the living and dining room, and everything was painted white. It was pretty much a blank slate,” says Moorhouse. “This is a fun, vibrant family, and the design needed to reflect their personality.”

Channeling the family’s youthful energy, the designers looked to the cheery hues in their client’s Oushak rug as a starting point. In the living room, neutral upholstery is enlivened with blue trim, while blue draperies, table lamps and an upholstered slipper chair repeat the summery hue. The Michelle Armas painting above the mantel, along with accent pillows and painted bookcase walls, cue the rug’s pinks and corals.

For the dining room, they leaned into a cherry blossom print that the client had long adored—a grasscloth featuring pink spring blooms and ruby-throated hummingbirds on a metallic charcoal background. Green velvet upholstery on side chairs and green trim on draperies underscores the birds’ feathers, while a gilt chandelier with decorative leaves repeats the floral motif.

Throughout the project, balancing light and dark finishes and playing soft contemporary lines off of traditional styles was just as essential as the use of color and pattern in the new design. “For visual interest, it’s important to mix things up,” says Moorhouse. “It’s like a puzzle. We didn’t want it to look like we threw a bunch of brand-new furniture into the house all at once.”

The end result: a tailor-made home perfectly suited for the new family. “We started by making sure the house functioned right and then layered in all of the pretty things,” says Millner. “We were lucky to have a really great team to help bring it to life.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Melanie Millner and Katie Moorhouse, The Design Atelier, (404) 365-8662; BUILDER Matt Brownlow, Brownlow & Sons, (770) 977-8404; CABINETRY DESIGNER Marcel Olariu, Kingdom Woodworks, (770) 932-6390;