Outside the Box

Architect Rodolfo Castro and interior designer Edward Belding conquer the complex task of melding contemporary architecture with warm and inviting interiors.

Three years ago, Edward Belding was enlisted by a contractor to manage the interior specifications for a traditional two-story house to be constructed on an acre-and-a-half lot in Brookhaven. But it wasn’t long before the interior designer started to see a disconnect between the type of house the homeowners envisioned—”green,” seamless connection to the outdoors and retirement-friendly—and the house being drawn. After the homeowners determined they were looking for a more modern vernacular, Belding called on former Summerour Architects colleague Rodolfo Castro to go back to the drawing board and design a contemporary home uniquely suited to the couple’s passions and needs.

Both accomplished doctors and avid birders, the pair fell in love with a piece of property north of Buckhead that was once a nursery, but now home to a derelict ranch and overgrown trees. But that sort of natural, grown-wild environment was exactly what the homeowners wanted: a place where they could not only attract, protect and feed birds, but also take out their binoculars in any room in the house to catch them in action. Castro, landscape architect John Howard and builder Geoff Duncan helped the couple fulfill that dream by the way they sited the house on its steep lot, leaving the backyard—nearly three-quarters of an acre—completely natural. And following the project’s completion, the homeowners were able to establish their land as a certified wildlife sanctuary with the Atlanta Audubon Society.

Aside from designing the house in tune with its environment, one of Castro’s main objectives was to design a “forever” house—one that would not only act as a luxurious retreat for its well-traveled homeowners, but also suit their needs as they, and members of their family, aged. In the cozy and compact library, for instance, a wall panel conceals a Murphy bed, while an adjacent bathroom is ADA-compliant.

Inside, it was also important that the interiors not look or feel like a stark-white modern box; that’s where Belding’s interior expertise and black book transformed the residence’s sleek architectural bones into a home even die-hard traditionalists would love. Take the living room, for instance, where a steel-framed slab of marble fashions a one-of-a-kind mantel and fireplace surround on a planked walnut wall. But its dimension is deceiving: the steel frame widens from three inches to five the closer it gets to the window. That walnut-steel motif is repeated in the master bedroom, where Belding again enlisted metal artist Charles Calhoun and furniture designer Skylar Morgan to design an oversized headboard—which nearly reaches the ceiling—to soften the room’s volume.

With the exception of the library, Belding painted the interior walls Pratt & Lambert Shadow Beige, a neutral that adds color without overpowering. And, while you won’t find many casings or mouldings in this modern home, the designer added interest (and elegance) to the dining room in the form of a tray ceiling. But beyond his injections of custom-designed warmth, it’s Belding’s selections of comfortable, conversation-inducing pieces that not only cushions its modern vernacular, but also make this 4,000-square-foot home as comfortable for two as it is for twenty.

Architecture Rodolfo Castro, Castro Design Studio, (404) 514-7247; castrodesign.net Interior Design & Interior Architecture Ed Belding, The Belding Group, Inc., (404) 794-7944; beldinggroup.net Landscape Architecture John Howard, Howard Design Studio, (404) 876-7051; howarddesignstudio.com