Easy Elegance

Designers’ rooms from last year’s Christmas House prove that high style need not be fussy to be gorgeous.


A living room is, in many ways, the crowning jewel of a home. In this case, the designs of John Nelson and Michael Kirkland make the space shimmer and shine to an unrivaled degree, due in part to the presence of the hand-painted Gracie wallpaper that Nelson is known for—this one in a luminous blue-and-brown scheme. But the luxuries contained in this room don’t stop there. You’re immediately drawn to miniature glass sculptures by internationally acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly and a large-scale mixed-media work by Jimmy O’Neal, each courtesy of Bill Lowe Gallery. A gilt bench and tables, an ornate chandelier with dazzling opalescent crystals, and cushiony velvets in winter colors such as sugar plum and evergreen add even more glitz to the room, while upholstered velvet panels with Greek key details serve as creative window coverings and ground the touches of gold and brown throughout. Invigorating, intricate and inspirational, the living room not only captures the vibrant holiday spirit, but also sets a new standard for the Atlanta holiday style of today.

Michael Kirkland, Halleon Partners, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (954) 615-0515; halleon.com
John Nelson, J. Nelson Inc., ADAC, Atlanta. (404) 477-2225; jnelsoninc.com



Far too often, dining rooms pass up warm and inviting in favor of cold and austere. But in Stan Topol‘s dining room design, he shook up any such notions. Beginning with a foundation of soft linen panels—tracked around the room to disguise the original plaster walls—he added the necessary layers: a rich mahogany table, period Irish walnut side chairs and luxurious Italian silk damask fabrics. Antique and modern artwork, sourced through dealer Frances Aronson, and mirrors are masterfully arranged inside the room’s archway niche. The dining table, a formal spot, is inviting with its gilt-detailed leather banquette, pairing nicely with the quilted look of the cushion-edged limestone floor. Traditional crystal stemware, fine china and ribbon-tied packages impart elegance to the table setting and its surroundings—where you’d be likely to linger in its comfort long after brunch or dinner.

Stan Topol, Stan Topol & Associates Inc., Atlanta. (404) 885-9889; stantopol.com



Christmas just isn’t complete without a towering evergreen. Which is why Randy Korando and Dan Belman took such a dedicated approach in adorning one that takes the library to new heights. Both a refuge and a spot for anticipation in the Advent, the room’s neutral décor was designed to be understated, allowing the holiday trimmings to shine. Beneath the grand coffered ceiling, a custom fabric screen designed by Boxwoods brings added architectural appeal to the room and filters light from the arched window. Meanwhile, a nailhead-trimmed William and Mary-style sofa sits proudly, perhaps welcoming a guest to peruse the pages of a good book. A stack of antique tomes mingles on the table with a crystal sculpture, A Discobolus statuette and sparkling topiaries play off of the glass balls, icicles and cloche-clad candles adorning the tree like miniature terrariums. But the one accent not to miss? A carved wooden crown tops this traditional tree with a twist.

Randy Korando and Dan Belman, Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts, 100 East Andrews Dr.,Atlanta, 30305. (404) 233-3400; boxwoodsonline.com



The OwenLawrence aesthetic is never timid, especially for the holidays! A modern interpretation of classic seasonal style is decked out by one of their contemporary tabletop experts. Designer Fiofan Pichardo used modern art, crisp black and white, and pops of red to instill a festive vibe into the upstairs sitting room, creating a space that’s not just for unwinding—but a true conversation starter, too. Intriguing lines and objects abound: The clean lines of the black lacquered tables and transitional sofa play off of the floor’s unexpected curves, while unusual table lamps balk at playing it straight, and curvy crimson vessels catch the eye at every turn. It’s a room that’s visually appealing, but an inviting layout and fireplace just beyond provide coziness to boot.

Fiofan Pichardo, OwenLawrence. 1200 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta. (404) 869-7360; owenlawrence.com



Wendy Blount‘s loft-like studio is a space that’s full of personality, where creativity is king. Cheery colors and thought-provoking objects create an engaging atmosphere where any interest might be explored. Without question, the extraordinary butterfly wallpaper makes this room, while cleverly chosen candelabra wall sconces mimic the delicate curls of butterfly antennae. Artisan pieces, new upholstery and unusual antique market finds act as vibrant punctuation points—a dramatic black Chinese vase with the flair of film noir, a white coffee table with spindly legs, a supple sofa in a blush shade softer than crimson, a textural table lamp set on a mirrored console plus a shaggy white rug and vintage Louis XV-style chairs to establish the look with both modern and classic appeal. It’s a room that stimulates old and new sensibilities—and with which you’re immediately enamored.

Wendy Blount, Wendy Blount Architectural and Interior Design, Atlanta. (404) 888-0826; blountdesign.com



Feng Shui comes into focus with Tish Mills‘ master bath retreat, where the designer used tried-and-true Asian principles of balance to make this room feel less like an everyday bath and more like a sanctuary, where luxurious European details make any user feel royally pampered. Beneath the grand domed ceiling and towering, arched window, brushed marble flooring laid in a herringbone pattern—coupled with a brilliant marble mosaic—brings in extra character and surrounds a free-standing soaker tub that’s nothing short of inviting. Silk draperies and two chandeliers, one vintage crystal-and-chrome and another with crystal-wrapped arms, provide the sparkle that the holiday season calls for. Bath salts and accessories, which are close at hand, suggest the perfect winter home-spa day.

Tish Mills, Harmonious Living by Tish Mills, Atlanta. (404) 814-3838; harmoniousliving.net



At first glance, you immediately notice that Jimmy Stanton‘s landing loft is a room of quiet reflection. Homey objects encourage intrigue and inspiration, their antique qualities making them seem as though they were placed on the rough-hewn work table by a great-great-grandfather. Antique books wrapped in twine, a desk lamp with an antique brass finish, magnifying glasses and mounted objets d’art invite careful studies for hours on end. Or perhaps you’d like to curl up in a chair with a classic novel? Rustic mainstays like a hand-blown wine jug and reproduction Oushak rug transport you to another time, while woodland treasures, hand-painted pine studies and intricate ironwork on the stairwell make you feel as though you’ve escaped to a mountain cottage.

Jimmy Stanton, Stanton Home Furnishings, 1250 Caroline St. NE, Atlanta, 30307. (404) 586-9000; stantonhomefurnishings.com

For information on this year’s Christmas House, visit our 2008 Christmas House Web page. The doors open November 15.