Made for Keeps

During the holidays, designer LIZA BRYAN adds a layer of holiday decor to her renovated 1940s cottage, putting an even brighter spotlight on her collections and antiques

Liza Bryan and husband Randy’s 1940s cottage in the Peachtree Battle neighborhood didn’t exactly ooze charm when their real estate agent first showed them the property. “My agent warned me that the house was in terrible shape,” says Bryan. There were oil stains from a Harley-Davidson in the dining room, the previous owners had been raising cocker spaniels in the basement, and all of their possessions had been tossed to the curb. “She said I would need to have a good imagination,” says Bryan. Thankfully the interior designer had plenty of vision. Attracted to the home’s historic appeal, 9-foot ceilings, original mantel in the living room and a private, treed backyard that feels more like North Carolina than Atlanta, the couple didn’t hesitate to make the purchase. “The house looked like a little nothing at the time, but I loved that it had potential,” says Bryan.

Working with architects Rick Spitzmiller and Bob Norris, the Bryans embarked on a renovation and an addition to suit their needs and serve as a home to their collection of antiques and family heirlooms. “We took the house apart and put it back together, while adding a second story and a screened porch to take in the views,” says Bryan. That renovation project was completed years ago, and it’s been home ever since.

The interiors put emphasis on classic, traditional design with much of the furniture and accessories collected over time, and though little has changed over the years outside of rugs and fabrics, the home still carries a fresh appeal. That’s because Bryan takes to heart her own advice for young collectors: “Buy the very best that you can afford and you’ll never be sorry. I still have every piece that I ever bought and every heirloom that was handed down to me,” says the designer.

Bryan credits the exquisite taste of her great aunt and grandmother for her own appreciation of antique furniture and accessories. “When you grow up around beautiful things and see someone using and enjoying them, it rubs off,” says Bryan. “I spent weekends with them setting their tables with fine china for tea parties while they shared the history and provenance of the items in their homes. I was fortunate to have family members who taught me the value of things.”

Bryan, also a mother and grandmother, is encouraged to think that her own children and grandchildren will be pleased to inherit her furnishings and collections. “Collecting is all about loving beautiful things and wanting to see them every day,” says Bryan. “Over the almost four decades of being a designer, I have learned so much—especially that your home should tell your story.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Liza Bryan, Liza Bryan Interiors, (404) 848-0588; ARCHITECT Rick Spitzmiller and Robert Norris, Spitzmiller & Norris, Inc. (404) 812-0224;