Happy Harmony

Margaret Kirkland Interiors fashions a deeply personal second act for a design-loving empty-nester couple in Buckhead

For a pair of empty nesters looking to refresh their Buckhead home—and find use for their substantial collection of existing and recently inherited furnishings—discovering Margaret Kirkland Interiors was a lightbulb moment. Drawn to the design firm’s expertise in embracing and repurposing clients’ belongings, the couple knew they’d found the right designer for their second act.

“[The client] came to us and said, ‘We’ve been shipped all of this furniture that we want to incorporate, but have no idea how, and are hoping you can help us,’” says Kirkland. “Sometimes the best shopping I’ve done for clients is in their storage unit and in their attics.”

Alongside Zach Weiler, the designer did exactly that: found homes for antique treasures and family heirlooms, reupholstered vintage furniture pieces and reimagined spatial arrangements to tailor the home—which was last renovated in 2008 with Yong Pak of Pak Heydt & Associates and interior designer Carolyn Jones—to the homeowners’ new phase of life.

In the study, for instance, the furniture was rearranged (and in the case of the sofa, rebuilt and reupholstered) to create a cozy lounge area the couple could retreat to in the evenings. To add a sense of history, Kirkland filled the space with antique pieces, some of which were cleverly repurposed: an antique gold frame was remade into a mirror, and some of the wife’s antique saris were transformed into lampshades, casting a warm glow after sunset. “Now this is their favorite room to spend time in the evenings,” says Kirkland. “She really cares about antiques and the provenance of things.”

This sense of history is also evident in the living room, which Kirkland enlivened with a sizable chinoiserie screen from Florence, Italy. Helping to illuminate the space, the fireplace is flanked with antique demilune tables and mirrors. And rather than replace the sofa—a family piece from the 1940s—the design team raised the legs and added a trim. Small updates that feel modern without sacrificing the piece’s historic integrity (and “beautiful velvet upholstery,” says Kirkland) was a common design approach for the team.

Complementing the home’s rich assortment of heirlooms are intentional touches of new. In the foyer, Atlanta artist Brian Carter customized the existing Christopher Norman wallpaper with hand-painted leaves. The artist also refreshed the kitchen sconces with hand-painted acorns, a nod to the home’s surrounding foliage. The overall result is a sentimental mix of the past, present and future.

“Helping clients get their homes to the stage of life that they’re in by reinventing spaces is sometimes the most satisfying,” says Kirkland. “This project has been an evolution of how to add the clients’ personality to their house with a mash-up of pieces that were existing, newly inherited and newly purchased, all in happy harmony.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Margaret Kirkland and Zach Weiler, Margaret Kirkland Interiors, (404) 550-7476; margaretkirklandinteriors.com ARCHITECT Yong Pak, Pak Heydt & Associates, (404) 231-3195; pakheydt.com