Designing Duo

Classic California design inspires the style of a grand Buckhead manor.

It’s no small feat to design, build and decorate a 12,500-square-foot home in just one year. Just ask homeowner Judith Schindler and her friend Sudi Cecil. Both designers immersed themselves in the completion of Schindler’s palatial home from the very first architectural plan—and the results are spectacular.

Shying away from her signature Country French aesthetic, Schindler wanted to bring the easy elegance of California design into her new home. “I had spent a great deal of time in California and was inspired by designers such as Michael Taylor, Nancy Corzine and Barbara Barry,” explains Schindler. For her part, Cecil has seen many of her clients shift from traditional Southern style—with antiques and large, dark furniture—to something softer and more West Coast-like.

Schindler describes her home’s look as “classically modern” with touches of Old Hollywood Glamour. “I noticed in California they were using more mirrors, chandeliers and lots of luxurious fabrics that reflect light well,” she says. “It was all about bringing back this classic Hollywood era that everyone loves.” A self-described “fabric queen,” she spent hours at showrooms collecting and comparing fabrics, sometimes gathering as many as 50 different swatches for just one room. Enter Cecil’s editing skills. “I’m a quick decision maker and believe ‘less is definitely more.’ It was my job to eliminate, which was not hard because I understood what she wanted and what we had to work with,” says Cecil.

Schindler notes that the vast majority of the furniture in the home is made up of pieces that have been reupholstered. “After living in five houses, you accumulate all this furniture and just don’t want to throw it away. I’ve had the chairs that are in my living room for more than 20 years,” she says. Throughout the house, silk mohairs, velvets, linens and other sumptuous fabrics resonate with comfortable luxury. “I believe comfort is first, then you can create around that,” says Cecil, explaining her design approach.
But the glamour by no means stops at fabrics. Shimmering wall coverings provide each room with a dazzling backdrop for carefully selected accessories and artwork.

“This is my dream home,” says Schindler. “Hopefully, I’ll never have to move again.”
“It may have been a tremendous amount of non-stop work that year,” adds Cecil, “but in the end, to see her happy, it was absolutely worth it.”

A FORMAL AFFAIR “I can picture Jean Harlow or Grace Kelly sitting in their satin dresses having cocktails with Cary Grant in this room.” -Judith Schindler

KEEPING THE PEACE “We first wanted to do the accent pillows in blue, but then decided against it so that the overall look remains serene.” -Sudi Cecil

LAYER BY LAYER “There are so many elements to this room, that every time you step in you notice something different. I think we got the layering just right.” -S.C

AGE EFFECT “The foyer walls are done in a special plaster finish on oil cloth. It gives the illusion that the house has been here forever. And the custom color flows well into the other rooms.” -J.S.

CUSTOM CLASSICS “I was becoming tired of granite and its heavy pattern. So we chose a white/gray Carrera marble for the countertops. It gives off a very classic and clean look.” -J.S.

AGING WITH GRACE “Even though the marble stains easily, it ages so beautifully, just like a Persian rug. The little stains only add character to the marble.” -S.C.

FLORAL FANTASY “When we were designing the home, I would always walk into the Ainsworth-Noah showroom and pause at the Orchid Silk paper wall because there was something very soothing about it. I knew I had to have it in my own home.” -J.S.

ALL IN THE FLOW “The silver patina of the chandelier ties in the stainless used in the kitchen with this room. Creating good flow is important.” -J.S.

SOLID FOUNDATION “The flooring has this really nice, thick grouting. It reminds me of an old European conservatory.” -J.S.

MASTERING THE ART “Each new house you build is a learning process. In my previous home, every time I went to open the doors to the antique Venetian buffet, they would hit the chairs. So this time we built a niche to ensconce the piece and give it some room.” -J.S.

IN SYNC “When you have such a beautiful interior, the outside needs to relate. We achieved a good balance between the two, in and out. When you leave the door open, it’s almost like one space.” -S.C.