The interiors of this Buckhead home are the epitome of work by designers Bill Murphy and the late Jim Essary—timelessly traditional. And, yes, in their own way, understated, even though the residence itself was inspired by a renowned Venetian architect.
“The owners love Italy, and they kept bringing back pictures of Palladio’s work,” Murphy recalls. “They bought this property and razed the original structure, then built this fabulous jewel box of a house. We were there from ground zero; it was a four-year process from conception to completion, but the result is truly magnificent.”
From their former residence, the owners planned to bring some treasured antiques, good artwork and an impressive collection of blue-and-white. But as plans developed for the new house, they became passionate about collecting new antiquities, many of them ancient Chinese pieces.
In fact, their clients amassed pieces with such fervor that the designers suggested they start collecting dynasties. “So they got a curator who proceeded to consult and buy with them,” Murphy recalls. “Everything went into two storage units until the house was finished, but they kept great photo albums from which we could work.” Collaborating with the architect, Essary and Murphy incorporated niches, shelves—even floor-to-ceiling bookcases—into the plan to showcase treasures from the Neolithic Dynasty (2100 B.C. to 1600 B.C.) all the way up to the Qing Dynasty (1664 A.D. to 1911 A.D.).
Although the massive collection was clearly a focus in the home’s design, making sure that it met the owners’ everyday needs was the prime objective. And the same organization shown by the owners in keeping track of their newly collected works came into play throughout the house. “They’re very organized guys,” Murphy says. “They had lists of what they wanted in the new house—a large kitchen, a three-car garage, a greenhouse where they could raise orchids. And it had to be well-suited for entertaining, inside and out. The house was even moved 75 feet forward [from the original site] to make room for a larger backyard and pool for parties.”
Matching the owners’ organized methodology, Essary and Murphy thought out every last detail, down to asking their clients “When and where do you make coffee?” “Where do you read the paper?” “‘Where do you plug in your phone and laptop when you come home from work?”
It all paid off beautifully in the end; the result is a well-edited residence where there’s nothing cluttered nor unnecessary. Classic furnishings set against a soothing neutral backdrop are as comfortable as they are comforting, at the same time allowing treasured collectibles prominent status—understated elegance at its best.
Bill Murphy’s Favorite Things
CARS: Jaguar and Bentley
ARTIST: Geoffery Johnson, Lagerquist Gallery
CHAIR: Smith Grubbs, #709 Pearson Lounge
RESTAURANT: Houston’s on Peachtree
KITCHEN GADGET: Lemon Squeezer
COFFEE TABLE BOOK: Interiors Southeast; My Passion For Design by Barbara Streisand
COMFORT FOOD: Mac ‘n’ cheese
WALLPAPER: Blue Mountain Wallcoverings; natural textures; Cowtan & Tout’s “Harwood Stria” in aqua
PAINT COLORS: Benjamin Moore HC-80 Bleeker Beige and HC-129 Southfield Green
COCKTAIL: Dirty martini
MOVIES: Ghost; The Way We Were; The Help
CHAIRITES: Chris Kids; Alliance Theatre
WAY TO ENTERTAIN: Chris Casual at-home parties
TV SHOWS: Criminal Minds; The Closer; The Voice
VACATION SPOT: Grand Cayman
INTERIOR DESIGN Essary & Murphy Interior Design, (404) 609-9091