Oh, What Fun!

Dressing down the formal dining room doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Bill Ingram reveals the ultimate high-low mix

Architects might just MAKE for the toughest real estate clients. So when Bill Ingram decided he wanted to swap his Colony Square pied à terre for a tree-lined street in Buckhead, he knew his work was cut out for him. But serendipitously, a house designed by one of the leading firms of the early 20th-century South—Pringle & Smith—caught his eye, and the architect could not ignore its tall ceilings, classic symmetry and heart-of-Buckhead location.

Another bonus: The former lady of the house also possessed great taste, so it was a no-brainer to swap a pair of formal Fortuny draperies in the master bedroom with the ones in the dining room as the starting point. Painting the walls apricot and a pair of doors high-gloss black was the next order of business, and once again, rather serendipitously, a set of eight 1960s faux-bamboo Baker chairs he found on 1stDibs featured worn orange velvet cushions with tassel ties, completing the mix.

In addition to his refined architectural and interior design sensibilities, Ingram is also a style ambassador for Serena & Lily. The company’s serene blue chambray tablecloth provided the perfect visual anchor for a large-scale dining table, while Serena & Lily tabletop pieces, such as the rattan Tortola lanterns and round raffia placemats, play off the natural feel of the faux-bamboo chairs and counter the formality of Ingram’s generous collection of English porcelain.

Overscale pieces, such as the crystal chandelier with duck-egg silk shades sourced from Parc Monceau, a painting above the buffet and a leaning mirror, make the lofty space feel more intimate, as does the soft blue grasscloth Ingram specified for the ceiling.

Ingram’s one hard-and-fast entertaining advice: Keep everyone at ease. “I’m not at ease unless everyone else is too, and when I’m around good things, that doesn’t mean they have to be stiff or too precious. That’s not comfort.”

“When I’m around good things, that doesn’t mean they have to be stiff or too precious. That’s not comfort.”

Bill Ingram, Bill Ingram Architect, (404) 348-4497; billingramarchitect.com