Gilded Age

Aided by an army of skilled craftsmen, Pak Heydt & Associates and Bunny Williams Interior Design revitalize a grand Federalist home in Buckhead’s posh Tuxedo Park neighborhood

DESPITE ITS LACKLUSTER interior finishes, a stately Federal-style manse in Tuxedo Park captured the heart of a young mother known for her fabulous soirees. Years later, after her children had their own families, she commissioned architect Charles Heydt of Pak Heydt & Associates and interior designer Elizabeth Lawrence, partner at Bunny Williams Interior Design, to reimagine it for a new era. “It was time to give her dream house a new lease on life with a higher level of finish and customization,” says Lawrence.

To better showcase the hilltop home, landscape architect Richard Anderson eliminated a prominent mound that obscured the front porch when viewed from the street. Boxwoods and other simple plantings add color and soften
the front facade. “The goal was for this house to look like it’s been here forever,” he explains.

Flanking the swimming pool, a newly created pool house and complementary cabana in the home’s original style enhances the effect. “They balance the overall facade,” says Heydt. 

The interior transformation is equally well-considered. For example, the walls are covered in shimmery Venetian plaster applied by skilled artisans in a weeks-long process. The same care went into the hand-stenciled patterns on the hardwood flooring in the grand foyer. Clad in reflective gold leaf, a groin vault ceiling likewise elevates a passageway that also serves as a luxe bar. “In many respects it’s a new house within the envelope of an old home,” says Heydt. “This kind of project requires a special client who is passionate about the details.”

The project’s extended timeline also gave Lawrence time to hunt for the sort of rarified objects a house of this caliber merited, combing through antiques shops and European flea markets. Displayed atop identical marble columns, a pair of white and blue terracotta vases acquired on one such excursion perfectly accents the dining room’s apple green walls. “We don’t find things like that often and I knew they had to have an important place,” explains Lawrence.

The designer also commissioned key pieces such as the handmade metal chandelier with a leafy motif in the breakfast area—a fitting companion to a Gracie wallcovering with hand-painted branches. And a team of craftsmen contributed to the intricate hand-carved four-poster bed in the primary bedroom. “She wanted a very feminine space, and it’s kind of a princess bed,” says Lawrence, pointing to the embroidered headboard and tasseled valance.

According to Lawrence, the result is a dream come true for the owner, who enjoys hosting both formal dinner parties and low-key visits with her grandchildren in a gracious and interesting home that’s finally perfect for both. “This house is formal but comfortable; grand but not overwhelming,” says Lawrence. “Exactly what she wanted.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Elizabeth Lawrence, Bunny Williams Interior Design, (212) 207-4040; ARCHITECT Charles Heydt, Pak Heydt & Associates, LLC, (404) 231-3195; Landscape design Richard Anderson, Richard Anderson Landscape Architect, (404) 791-9100;