Respectful Refresh

Designer Helen Davis Hanavich and architect T. Blake Segars sensitively renovate an Atlanta home by respecting the past, while looking to the future

Interior designer Helen Davis Hanavich of Helen Davis Interior Design and architect Blake Segars of T. Bake Segars Architecture have been longtime friends—since childhood, in fact—but the two had never worked together on a project. When Segars was beginning a remodeling job for an Atlanta couple with three young children, he thought Hanavich would be the perfect interior designer for them.

One of the best parts of the project was that Segars and Hanavich discovered a couple that wasn’t rushed by a particular deadline and allowed time for the design to come together and evolve in a thoughtful manner. So successful was the ensuing collaboration that what originated as the addition of a back porch evolved into a years-long, whole-house renovation and redecoration.

In fact, it was the clients’ knowledge of design and exquisite taste that allowed Hanavich to push the envelope and explore unexpected colors and fabric combinations. In both the main spaces and upstairs private quarters, the resulting mix is both familiar, yet unexpected.

Blue-and-white moments that appear throughout the house, for example, can be described as traditional, but not. The colors grace a verdant grasscloth in the dining room, a starry wallpaper on the ceiling in another, and on a handpainted mural in the primary bath. In the family room, a mélange of disparate textile patterns—seven and counting—in various colors were layered over time, not in one fell swoop.

For Segars, nimbly melding the past and present was paramount. “In all of my designs I want to be true to the neighborhood, true to the house and respectful of the architect who came before me,” he says. Segars’ respect and reverence for the original structure was so much so that visitors often wonder what was done to the house, if anything at all.

“If only one knew that every single wall in this house was opened up,” he jokes. “There’s also the pride in that visitors have no idea that every single thing—from the floors, walls, paneling, every single doorknob and hardware—is brand new.”

In the end, it was the owner’s trust in the process—and her collaborators—that made the renovation and redecoration a success. “She knew my vision and she just let me run with it,” says Segars of the wife’s support. And Hanavich wholeheartedly concurs: “It ended up just being the most wonderful experience.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Helen Hanavich, Helen Davis Interior Design; ARCHITECT Blake Segars, T. Blake Segars Architecture & Landscapes, (404) 550-5812;