Atlanta's finest design talents fashion unpretentious luxury for a rambling estate overlooking Long Island Sound.
Although many homeowners dream of purchasing a second home on premium waterfront property, this client was an exception, says Atlanta architect Keith Summerour. “The setting is so beautiful, it’s like we created a second home that’s actually a main house,” he says.
And thanks to a sweeping front lawn with magnificent views of Long Island Sound, a five-and-a-half acre landscape that was restructured to save ancient fruit trees, and an indoor pool with sliding-door walls that open to the outside, this French Normandy-style beauty is indeed a “first” house that would blow any ordinary vacation home out of the water.
Built for a young family relocating to Greenwich, Connecticut, from Atlanta, it was the homeowners’ connections to the Atlanta design community that solidified their decision to use some of the city’s finest talents that included Summerour as well as interior designer Beth Webb and Jeremy Smearman of Planters, Inc.
Because Summerour had worked with the couple on a renovation of their Buckhead home in the past, they were eager to employ the architect’s expertise again when it came time to build their dream home from scratch.
As for Webb, despite the fact that the husband—a constantly on-the-move businessman—is an avid arts and antiques collector, he and the interior designer were in constant contact as he purchased items that struck his fancy during his travels in London and Holland. Webb’s main objective? To create a home that wouldn’t be too hands-off (or paws-off) for the couple’s three children, dogs or guests.
To that end, she was not only charged with creating elegance in an unpretentious way, but also with striking a fine balance between the clients’ tastes and needs. It was no small task, considering some of the owners’ preexisting items included works by Picasso and Matisse, as well as pre-Columbian antiques.
But just because their tastes tip toward the elegant doesn’t mean the clients were looking for an overly accessorized, formal house. “[The homeowners] are not a more-is-more couple; they’re not about a lot of stuff,” says Webb. “This is a very curated space because that’s how they like to live.”
You won’t find a formal dining room in this house, for instance; instead, the couple opted for a combination sun room-family dining area, complete with a built-in banquette, farmhouse table and hearth. The room was designed by Summerour to act as a balcony of sorts. One of the architect’s favorite design elements, because of its connection between family and entertainment, is this room’s arched interior window; overlooking the indoor pool below, it can be open or shut.
And unlike many homeowners looking for a master on the main, this couple wanted to be on the same floor as their young children. To suit this active family’s needs, though, Summerour designed the entrance of the master as a massive walk-through his-and-hers closet. Equipped with large islands, built-ins and window seats—and designed much like a kitchen in terms of functionality and aesthetics—the inverse layout “is the most practical way of laying out a master suite,” Summerour says. “When you think about coming and going, the last place you go from is your closet.”
When it came to choosing a color palette, the homeowners were equally as practical, opting for a neutral backdrop to soften the footprint of their family and constant stream of guests. And although this is a house built for the needs of a growing family, it’s also a house in which every square inch of space is used, Webb says, whether it’s in the library—where the well-traveled kids (and dog) relax among antiques including a desk owned by Gianni Versace—or the high-traffic family room, where a custom-designed rug by Eve, Inc. is surrounded by kid-friendly furniture from Bernhardt.
“The house is very livable and humane,” Webb says. “It’s well-edited but also happens to be tactile, soft and user- and kid-friendly—and will stand the test of time.”
Webb is the owner of Beth Webb Interiors and is the founder and author of the design blog “Aesthetically Thinking,” which can be found at aesthetically-thinking.blogspot.com.
+ What continues to inspire me is…travel! I cannot get enough of it, and it’s the one thing that never ceases to stimulate the creative juices. Whenever I need a shot in the arm, I book a ticket!
+ My favorite places to shop are…boutiques. Can we please have more and continue to support those that we do have?! I visit the Westside almost daily and cannot say enough nice things about all those small boutiques and all the others throughout this city that pride themselves on customer service and individuality.
+ When I go out in Atlanta, you’ll find me at…a restaurant, lots of restaurants! I love Aria, La Pietra Cucina and Holeman & Finch, to name a few! (So many, so little time!) Then, the next day you’ll find me back at the Training Zone so I can work it all off with Matt Hurst, my fitness guru!
+ My biggest splurges are always on…luxury boutique hotels. If you can’t do it up right, why do it at all? Oh, and great food and wine, great food and wine and great food and wine!
+ The best thing I’ve recently discovered is…Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion.
+ I like to collect…art. It is and always has been art, specifically works on paper. Truly my passion.
+ The luxuries I’d never give up are…My housekeeper, ironed sheets and fresh flowers.
+ My hero is…my grandfather. This isn’t design-oriented, but he was singularly the most significant influence in my life. He passed away recently just two days short of age 101. He led an exemplary life epitomizing all I know about character, integrity and having a strong work ethic. He was fair, just and, above all, interested and curious!
The work of Summerour’s firm is captured in a tome by noted historian William R. Mitchell, Jr., titled Summerour: Architecture of Permanence, Scale, and Proportion.
+ What continues to inspire me are…great craftsmen.
+ My favorite places to shop are…The London Trading Company and Sid Mashburn.
+ When I go out in Atlanta, you’ll find me at…East Atlanta.
+ My biggest splurges are always on…travel and art.
+ The best thing I’ve recently discovered is…Tanyard Creek Trail.
+ I like to collect…historic books.
+ The luxury I’d never give up is…time with my two boys.
+ My heroes are…David White for his commitment to education and Gary Adcock for his commitment to art.
ARCHITECTURE: Keith Summerour, Summerour Architects Inc., (404) 603-8585; summerour.net. INTERIOR DESIGN: Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors, (404) 869-6367; bethwebb.com. LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Jeremy Smearman, Planters Inc., (404) 261-6002; plantersgarden.com