A home in Buckhead is more than walls, furniture and fabrics; it’s a reflection of the woman who built it
There’s a house in Buckhead that defies convention. Located down a long driveway, off one of the area’s leafy traverses, one might expect to find a pseudo-Georgian mansion or English Tudor—like similar abodes in the neighborhood. But visitors to Katie and Ian Walker’s residence find a house that’s at once unique and familiar; its “style” however, is impossible to define.
“In some ways,” says Katie, who built the house 10 years ago, “it’s modern, but it also speaks to traditional style in the thickness of the walls, the stucco façade, the terrazzo and wood floors. They’re pretty classic elements.” Rounding out the checklist of timeless design elements are 14-foot-high ceilings and 24 sets of 10-foot-tall door openings.
For Katie, inspiration came from far away, as well as somewhere near to her heart. “There’s some Frank Lloyd Wright style in the house, but also elements of Italian villas and the more streamlined international style,” she explains. And the Philippe Starck-designed Delano Hotel in South Beach, Miami, as well as the sculpted landscapes of the eastern shore of Long Island, New York, provided a font of ideas for the home’s landscape design.
“My grandfather had a house in Jamaica that was a U-shape like this one,” says Katie. Like that house, she loves this one “because there are multiple sources of light and every room has access to the outside.”
Katie’s quick to point out, too, that she drew inspiration from her professional endeavors as co-owner of TuckerMott, a development and management company whose projects include the Westside Urban Market, a complex along Zonolite Road, and a project in Northeast Harbor, Maine. “The house is a definite reflection of some of the commercial spaces I was doing at the time.”
Taking into account all of these disparate design ideas—and distilling them into a structure that is at once original, but also cohesive—took a team of collaborators. For the exterior and “bones” of the house, Katie called on architects Keith Summerour and Kenneth Garcia. As for the interiors, they’re as much of a reflection of Katie as the structure itself. From high-end gallery and auction purchases to everyday objects that have been given pride of place, collections make up the bulk up the home’s décor. Designer Barbara Westbrook assisted her on some of the home’s furnishings, fabrics and paint colors. But since this is a house defined by the collecting habits of its owner, Katie recently called upon designer Beth Webb to help “edit” some of the things she has acquired over the years.
“I like what I like,” Katie says. “There’s a similar feel in what I collect, but not a similar subject or artist. I’ve always collected in varying degrees, and some treasures have come out of it. I love everything, but when you buy something, you don’t know the value of it. You just buy it because you like it.”
That’s a philosophy that equally defines the house: Build it because you like it.
“The house is so serene,” says Katie. “It could easily have been filled with more austere furnishings, but it’s a much warmer home than what people think of in terms of a modern house.”
Defying convention, indeed.