New Meets Old

In a new homes for a couple and their teenage sons, a dream team of local design pros puts a fresh twist on classic style.

There are a lot of new houses in Atlanta that are built to look old, but there are few that actually exude an air of permanence and a sense of longevity. The new Buckhead home of Jeff and Lisa Martin, and their three active teenage sons, is one that succeeds at both.

Much of the credit goes to the design team assembled to create the English-style, Edwin Lutyens-inspired home which replaced a forlorn 1950s ranch that previously occupied the grounds. Designer Beth Webb, architect Peter Block, builders Shaba Derazi and Jim Meathe of Y.M. Derazi Custom Homes and landscape architect John Howard were the Martins’ collaborators of choice in creating a new “old” house—one filled with energy and life, and well-suited for a modern family. Much of the home’s energy and life, in fact, comes from the natural light that floods the residence throughout the day.

“All of the major rooms of the house have windows on at least two sides, if not three,” says Block. “When you look out from almost any area, you see some exterior portion of the house. There is a sense of privacy but also a sense of connectedness and openness to the outdoors.” For example, the motor court is cut into the land and, when the great room’s three sets of French doors are opened wide, the outdoor area becomes another “room” for entertaining. On the other side of the same space, a loggia—complete with an outdoor kitchen, living and dining areas, as well as a TV and fireplace—also blurs the line between indoors and out.

That sort of modern-day flexibility was something that Webb maximized to its fullest advantage. “This is a family whose priorities are straight,” she says. “Designing this house wasn’t about show or fluff. It was about creating a comfortable house that would meet every need, and grow and change with them.” Throughout the home’s public spaces, palettes remain neutral but Webb energized them through her fabric selections for the custom upholstery and window treatments.

“Texture is so important,” she says. “It makes things warm in an otherwise virtual taupe landscape. To give a monochromatic room life, you infuse it with texture.” Beyond the color and texture selections, the entire backdrop of the home’s interiors is restrained.

“Simplicity was the Martins’ mantra,” Webb adds. From the lime-washed oak floors and the plaster walls to the exacting execution of the architectural detailing, the sum of the parts create a whole of timelessness.

“It’s all about living in emotion,” says Block. “It’s about creating houses that have soul, living in houses that have a life to them. That’s what it’s all about.”

INSPIRATION: Rooms that combine elegance with kick-up-your-feet comfort
REQUIREMENTS: To create a quiet, simple backdrop for a busy family that can evolve over time
MATERIALS USED: San Marco plaster, limewashed oak floors, pecky cypress, marble, painted brick and mohair, linen and velvet fabrics
DESIGNERS’S FAVORITE ROOM: The great room, because of its versatility 

ARCHITECT Peter Block, Peter Block Architects, 2300 Peachtree Rd., Suite C-201, Atlanta 30309. (404) 352.2422; INTERIOR DESIGN Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., Suite 11B-4, Atlanta 30305. (404) 869-6367; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE John Howard, Howard Design Studio, 1201 Peachtree St. NE, No. 1505, Atlanta 30361. (404) 876-7051; BUILDER Jim Meathe and Shaba Derazi, YM Derazi Custom Homes, 416 East Paces Ferry Rd., 2nd Floor, Atlanta 30305. (404) 812-005;