Embracing their love of the land, an Atlanta family leaves the city and settles into a refined yet pastoral retreat
When the homeowner of this country estate gets a call from her interior designer, Lauren Davenport Imber, she’s likely knee-deep in a project, and not in the figurative sense. “I’ll give her a ring with a design question,” says Davenport Imber, “And it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for her to say, ‘Well, at the moment I’m pouring sweat, digging holes in the ground for a new fence.’”
While it may seem like a chore to most, it’s exactly where this homeowner wants to be; firmly rooted in her family’s 100-acre wooded property in Whitesburg, Georgia, which is a striking contrast to the city life she shared with her husband and two sons just years before. “They describe themselves as fifth-generation Atlantans who decided to run for the forest,” Davenport Imber adds with a laugh.
In their search for trading city lights for starry skies, they happened upon a verdant parcel of land that ticked all the boxes. It was close enough to Atlanta for the husband’s daily commute to work, contained a river ideal for fishing and boasted plenty of acreage for hunting and riding horses as well as room to add a chicken coop and introduce new animals to their brood.
While they worked on cleaning up the overgrown land to also make way for vegetable gardens and fruit trees, the property’s existing home similarly needed attention. Built in the 1980s, the couple enlisted architect Steve Dray to reconfigure its layout to better suit their lifestyle. A downstairs bedroom was turned into a bar area for entertaining while the master suite was expanded, among other changes.
The wife was brimming with ideas on how to decorate, but knew she needed some expert help in pulling it all together. In a moment of serendipity, she happened upon Davenport Imber’s leave-behind card while picking up flowers at her local floral shop in the neighboring community of Serenbe. Davenport Imber’s sister is the shop’s proprietress.
“We hit it off right away,” recalls Davenport Imber. Approaching the home with a like-minded vision, they paid respect to the surroundings with wood accents in the form of beams and paneling while also incorporating natural materials such as wool, linen and leather at every turn. “I’d call the home’s aesthetic an elegant take on rustic living,” says the designer. “But there were two things we were always conscious of—dogs and dirt.” To that end, the designer sensibly opted for Peacock Pavers in the main living spaces to withstand muddy paws.
Weaving cherished family antiques into the home’s design was also a priority. From the dining room’s Georgian sconces to silverware on display in the kitchen, each piece shares a familial story. “We were keen to make the home look like it had been around for generations, and the heirlooms and antiques we used really enhance this idea,” says Davenport Imber.
And while the family has only called it “home” for a short while, the couple hopes it does indeed become a place their children and future generations gather, she notes. “They ultimately came out here for more family time and less distractions, and it’s really a pleasure to continue shaping this home into a backdrop for just that.”