Design Fusion

Armed with a fresh color palette and an eclectic mix of furnishings, designer Betty Burgess infuses a Buckhead home with character and charm.

The Tudor-style residence of Paul Raulet is a good fit with its Peachtree Battle neighborhood, known for its architecturally significant homes. The house has a quiet, unassuming quality, one that’s welcoming from the get-go. And that’s precisely what the owner was looking for—a comfortable home to share with his children, Charlie and Grace.

Raulet knew that the property had a lot going for it but, before making the purchase, he consulted with Mike Hammersmith. Having worked with the builder/contractor previously, Raulet respected his opinion and needed to know if a few “tweaks” he had in mind were feasible. “He wanted a more useable backyard,” recalls Hammersmith, which was ultimately accomplished by removing a detached garage—and truckloads of dirt—and leveling the area. But just as important to Raulet was adding a master bedroom on the main floor.

The original plan was to add not only the master but also a family room, providing space off the kitchen in which to entertain. But, Hammersmith says, it wasn’t long before he realized that the house would better accept a two-story addition. “Paul had to be talked into the second-floor space; he didn’t want to go into that much of a project.” In the end, however, the revamped floor plan turned out to be everything the homeowner wanted—and more.

Another smart move on Raulet’s part was to bring designer Betty Burgess on board early, just as the framing got started. “From the moment Paul and I met for the first time at my office, it was instant chemistry,” says Burgess. “We’re completely honest with each other, and at the same time respect each other’s opinions. And that’s key.”

“It’s like a marriage!” laughs Raulet. “I can’t imagine how things would have turned out if I hadn’t picked the right ‘partner.’ ”

Throughout the house, Burgess stayed true to her signature style while creating a purely personal place for the owner. “I feel like there have to be classical anchors as well as some unexpected modern elements to make a place fresh,” she explains. Case in point: A pair of classical chairs in the living room are covered in a modern orange fabric.

“I’m not a modern or contemporary guy but I like the mix, the edginess,” says Raulet.

Likewise, the designer deftly merged pieces Raulet already owned with new acquisitions. “I used a lot of what he already had, and—from a budget point of view—I think that’s really important,” Burgess says. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to start a project with a clean slate, but it’s always important to be sensitive to the sentimental value of my clients’ possessions.”

“She was very good at using things I already had,” Raulet confirms. “That zebra rug in the dining room? I bought that when I was in Tanzania. It was rolled up in a closet and I hadn’t looked at it for a long time. But it’s perfect there!”

In fact, the owner seems hard-pressed to think of a single thing he’d change.

“I really wanted a comfortable, cozy family house in an ‘old school’ neighborhood; that was the goal,” says Raulet. “And I think we achieved that. Not only do my kids love this house but everybody who walks in says they could move right in. To us, this house has a soul and represents a very welcoming feeling.”