New Context

Simple architectural modifications and vibrant pops of color create a chic backdrop for beloved collections acquired over a lifetime

More than two decades after their first collaboration, a cosmopolitan couple asked architect Norman Askins to revitalize their new Buckhead home. The owners envisioned a fresh, updated milieu that would befit their collections of contemporary art, antique porcelain and African artifacts. “All good things work together,” says Askins. “Nothing makes a house better than a good collection.”

Simply painting the dated orangeish brick and framing a pair of unornamented first-floor windows with trellises instantly transformed the exterior. Inside, Askins and project architect Daniel Witt raised and widened the doorway to create a more open, flowing floor plan. They also enhanced the millwork throughout, reconfigured awkward spaces and added a new first-floor primary suite addition.

In the front foyer, for example, black double doors adorned with a series of Hollywood Regency-inspired concentric square moldings disguise a posh bar with complementary cabinetry and a mirrored backsplash. “We didn’t do anything very radical, but a lot of small changes made a huge impact,” says Askins. Mirroring the transom between the living room and library, for example, adds architectural interest while reflecting natural daylight.

Meanwhile, interior designer Chris Holt enlivened the interior with the sort of vibrant colors and boisterous patterns that his clients so adored. Visually stimulating ikats, dragon and geometric fabrics in coordinating shades of blue brighten the white walls in the salon-style formal living room. And he painted the walls, ceiling, millwork and shelving in the adjacent library in a complementary shade of blue. “The color palette threads throughout the house, so everything is in harmony,” says Holt.

While most of the walls are white, the designer covered the walls in the kitchen and adjacent den with a neutral grasscloth that highlights the white cabinetry and quartzite countertops. Displayed on the wall by the breakfast table, a collection of ceramic fruit plates by Christine Viennet inspired the colorful fabric used to make the roman shade and stool cushions. The same fabric beautifully complements a dark green wallcovering in the upstairs bathroom. “Bathrooms are a great space to be a little more interesting and to make a statement,” says Holt. Refreshed for a new generation, the updated palette and mix of antique and contemporary furnishings creates an ideal backdrop for the modern artwork and interesting pieces the owners have collected over the years. “It makes sense for how they live and how they express themselves,” says Holt. “They’re so appreciative and thankful, and that makes me happy.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Chris Holt, Holt Interiors, (404) 351-5682; ARCHITECT Norman Askins, Norman Davenport Askins, Architect, (404) 233-6565; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Richard Anderson, Richard Anderson Landscape Architect, (404) 791-9100; CONTRACTOR Duncan Spears, Eumenean Construction, (678) 612-8488;