Picture Perfect 2012

Phoebe Howard’s light and bright approach to decorating serves as the ideal backdrop for a family’s contemporary art collection.

Decorating a large house with soaring ceilings and commodious rooms can prove vexing to even the most skilled designer. How does one transform all of that space into something usable and comfortable? Decorator Phoebe Howard was faced with this challenge when she was hired to work her magic on a recently built Sandy Springs home. Charged with bringing the house down to human scale, Howard set out to make it livable through a harmonious blend of soft colors, soothing fabrics and engaging artwork.

Situated on a large wooded lot, the house gives the impression of being in the mountains, played up by its ski lodge-like architecture. Rustic, however, was not the direction that Howard took, choosing instead to create an elegant yet relaxed setting for her clients and their impressive art collection. Notable supporters of the Atlanta arts community, Howard’s clients had already assembled an extensive collection of photography and paintings that Howard deems “thought-provoking and provocative.” To balance the home’s warm-toned wood floors and beamed ceilings, she specified cool-colored fabrics, rugs and paint, a contrast that gives the home a sense of casual refinement. The living room, awash in soft blues and creams, is serene and inviting while the dining room—with its wool paisley upholstered walls and curtains—is at once cozy and luxurious. Placed alongside contemporary artwork and formal fabrics, antique furniture adds a layer of aged patina.

It’s in the bedrooms, though, where the color palettes seem to whisper. Alluding to the lush trees outside of the master bedroom’s windows, Howard chose a pale gray-green for the walls. Likewise, pale greens and creams were used in many of the guest rooms in an effort to “capture the feeling of the outdoors.” In each room, sunlight is filtered through layers of curtains and sheer Roman shades, casting an ethereal quality.

Howard notes that the key to making neutral interiors work is to rely on quality antiques, art and architecture. “I like to let those things lead when I can, and I got lucky here,” says Howard. Luck may have played a role in this project but, without Howard’s skilled direction, chances are the outcome wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.

INTERIOR DECORATION Phoebe Howard, Mrs. Howard, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., NE, Suite 23, Atlanta 30305. (404) 816-3830; phoebehoward.net FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY Jackson Fine Art, 3115 East Shadowlawn Ave., NE, Atlanta 30305. (404) 233-3739; jacksonfineart.com FRAMING Myott Studio, (404) 355-2022; myottstudio.com