When Atlanta designer Caroline Willis was asked to create a historically accurate home, the task was not a stretch for the Virginia native, who attended the Thomas Jefferson–founded University of Virginia and holds a deep appreciation for highly refined architecture and decorative arts.
Although the homeowners were downsizing from their sprawling generational house, they were determined to retain their collection of antiques— and the feel of an inviting family home. “Caroline introduced us to architect Bill Litchfield, and they had an immediate understanding of our needs,” says the homeowner.
Updating the condominium with modern conveniences while attaining an unparalleled level of architectural detail throughout required a comprehensive renovation. Both Willis and the homeowners were involved in every step of the process, giving meticulous attention to each detail of planning.
Willis was also charged with the complex task of integrating the homeowners’ antiques collection while still achieving a comfortable, welcoming interior. “The architecture and the antiques are both very strong, so we created a softer feeling in the interior design for a comprehensive whole,” she says.
Willis used variations of the client’s favorite color—green—throughout the house in the form of paint colors, rugs and fabrics. Sophisticated Costa Esmerelda marble countertops in the kitchen add subdued color to the bold white cabinetry. Muted blues mix with creamy neutrals in the bedrooms to create soothing retreats overlooking the treetops outside. Crisp white bathrooms establish polished, restrained spaces.
“In creating a beautiful space that honors the architecture and antiques, it was important that the house feel collected but not like a designer did it,” notes Willis. A dining room rug from Moattar was among the first purchases to set the tone for the new interior, but Willis chose not to reupholster all of the original furniture. “We intentionally left a few pieces in the client’s original upholstery so that the home would look lived in and comfortable,” she says.
While some historically accurate homes have the tendency to feel stiff and formal, Willis infused a modern elegance into authentic architecture by integrating contemporary elements, such as a gentle color palette and present-day rugs. The epitome of success was when her client exclaimed, “I’m so happy—I feel like I’m living in a London flat above Kensington Gardens!”
Caroline Willis, Caroline Willis Interiors. (404) 355-9828; carolinewillisinteriors.com.