In a community all but forgotten by the hustle and bustle of modern-day Atlanta, Barbara Westbrook counts her personal home as the perfect reprieve.
Barbara Westbrook may be known for creating some of the most breathtaking residences from Buckhead to West Palm Beach, but the abode she calls home—nestled humbly in the Chattahoochee River valley—is more unassuming than you’d expect. From the outside, it’s a simple brick-and-clapboard structure. But inside, it’s every indication of this designer’s comfortable, layered style.
It was almost four years ago that Westbrook decided to leave behind a larger home in her suburban neighborhood to search for something a little smaller, somewhere slower in pace. Happily, one of her colleagues had recently purchased a home in just such a place, an oft-forgotten community known as the Whittier Mill Village Historic District, and made the suggestion that set things in motion. The aging village—laid out in a crescent around a turn-of-the century cotton mill—was one of the ﬁrst to rise from the ashes of the Civil War and survives today as one of Atlanta’s oldest residential communities. While some of its structures have succombed to the test of time, the storied mill houses and a few commercial buildings, like the old country store, remain. It is the latter that Westbrook has made her home.
Just nine miles from the designer’s Buckhead office, it seems like a world away. And that’s exactly what she’s grown to love about it. During the workweek, Buckhead is her stomping grounds—where she works, meets friends for dinner and attends church functions. But back home, she takes pleasure in daily strolls through the park, sketching cabinetry in her drafting nook, and curling up with favorite books and her two beloved cats.
With modest proportions but high ceilings, the 1,000-square-foot space allowed Westbrook the perfect opportunity to work her decorating magic. “I knew that I wanted to create privacy and delineate the space without losing the sense of volume,” she explains. “Even though it’s only 1,000 square feet, because of the tall ceilings it feels very open, not cramped.” Getting straight to work, Westbrook completed much of the renovations in six short weeks, including the addition of a custom kitchen and two 8-foot ﬂoating walls to separate the living, sleeping and dining areas, plus a fresh coat of paint.
Because Westbrook had participated in many show houses over the years, she had a treasure trove of “gently used” pieces in storage, a few of which she knew would work beautifully in the space, so she took very little from her former home. In the breakfast room, the designer paired modern white Klismos chairs with a well-worn monk’s leather tooling table for a smart juxtaposition of sleek and rustic while, next to her bed, she piled a round Art Deco table high with stacks of magazines and books, plus a few sophisticated tortoiseshell boxes for stowing odds and ends. “I like anything glamorous,” she notes. “Even though this space is a little rough around the edges, I threw in a little glamour.”
It’s also a case study in maximizing a small space. Fortunately, the building’s previous life as a general store gave Westbrook 18 feet of shelving in which to store the essentials. Draped casually with linen, they provide a place for almost everything, from cleaning supplies to baskets of sweaters to the owner’s prized collection of shoes. “I have a little bit of a shoe fetish,” she laughs.
Beyond that, she’s ﬁlled the space with a number of handsome case pieces. One standout is a red painted chest with bronze edging from Linda Horsley Antiques, which cleverly doubles as a bedside table. “It’s my favorite piece,” says the designer. “I love everything about it, and I think I’ll love it the rest of my life.”
Additionally, in lieu of closet space, armoires and wardrobes contain clothes, coats and an array of household necessities. “I think the thing about a space like this, where storage is limited, is that it keeps you from collecting too many things you don’t need,” notes Westbrook. “You have to put things back where you found them—there’s a spot for everything and, if not, it’s chaos. You aren’t tempted to accumulate things like you would in a house with a big basement, when many times you don’t even know what’s down there.”
Like a luxurious approach to loft style, her home exudes a scaled-down, modern way of living—an unexpected mix in a building as historical as this. Still, it maintains the comfortable, inviting style this designer brings to all of her projects. One-thousand square feet may not seem like much at ﬁrst measure but, for Westbrook, it’s turned out to be the perfect ﬁt.
INTERIOR DESIGN Barbara Westbrook, Westbrook Interiors, 2991 Hardman Court, Atlanta 30305. (404) 355-9430; westbrookinteriors.com WHITE LINEN SOFA “Charlotte” by Verellen, through South of Market COTTON LAMPS Jerry Pair CANED ACCENT CHAIR Jerry Pair SMALL ROUND STOOL Designer’s own; purchased in Malawi, Africa COFFEE TABLE Flea market find RECTANGULAR SIDE TABLE Lovetrain Antiques PLUM LINEN CHAIRS Lee, covered in Pindler & Pindler 9650 Lennik-Plum fabric. ANTIQUE TAPESTRY PILLOWS South of Market CARVED WOOD BOWL By Philip Moulthrop, through The Signature Shop & Gallery ROUND TILT-TOP TABLE Lovetrain Antiques CHOCOLATE SISAL RUG Designer Carpets. PALE WOOD ARM CHAIR Lovetrain Antiques ANTIQUE LEATHER CLUB CHAIR Robuck & Co. Antiques DRAFTING STOOL Designer’s own ARTICULATING VINTAGE LAMP Remains Lighting ART Purvis Young, through Myott Studio FLOOR LAMP Holly Hunt BLUE SWEDISH ARMOIRE Lovetrain Antiques PETRIFIED WOOD STUMP B.D. Jeffries FLOOR LAMP Bungalow Classic ART Portrait by Cornel Rubino; watercolors purchased at Scott Antique Market and in Venice, Italy. ANTIQUE MONK’S TOOLING TABLE J. Tribble Antiques WHITE KLISMOS CHAIRS Donghia SWEDISH WEDDING CHEST The Stalls PHOTOGRAPHY OF MILK JUGS Todd Murphy, through Jackson Fine Art RUSTED IRON LANTERN Designer’s own BLACK SISAL RUG Designer Carpets WOVEN BASKETS South of Market DRAPING FABRIC Classic Cloth “Giotto” fabric in Driftwood 1071/12, through Grizzel & Mann. IRON BED Custom through Westbrook Interiors ART DECO SIDE TABLE J. Tribble Antiques MARBLE LAMP Purchased as base from Jill Dineen at Scott Antique Market; fabricated into a lamp TORTOISE SHELL BOXES Scott Antique Market RED FRENCH CHEST Linda Horsley Antiques TUFTED ART DECO CHAISE Scott Antique Market FRUITWOOD ARMOIRE Scott Antique Market LEATHER-COVERED SIDE CHAIRS Darrell Dean Antiques, Washington, D.C. PHOTOGRAPHY Todd Murphy and Elliott Erwitt, through Jackson Fine Art. OIL PAINTING OF FEMALE FIGURE Purchased at a folk art festival MONOGRAMMED SHEETS Yves Delorme WHITE ART DECO CHAIR Pieces GOLD TWIG BRANCH TABLE Mattaliano through Jerry Pair WALLS THROUGHOUT HOME Pemetic Trail by Martha Stewart for Sherwin-Williams (discontinued)