Setting the Stage

With the quiet architecture of his Colony Square residence serving as a backdrop, architect Bill Ingram marries furnishings of disparate styles and various periods for a unique but keenly edited mix.

Most people head to the country to “get away.” But for Birmingham-based architect Bill Ingram, the call of urban living lured him to the hustle and bustle of midtown Atlanta. In fact, his new pied-à-terre proves to be the perfect getaway retreat—the view of the urban landscape from his high-rise aerie is the perfect counterpoint to the quiet, tree-lined street of his house in Alabama. Plus, it’s far enough away from his primary home for a change of scenery, but not too far, either, if a quick day trip is in order.

When looking to purchase a home in Atlanta, it was the Colony Square building that instantly appealed to Ingram’s architectural sensibilities. “It really is an architectural landmark in Atlanta,” he says of the stalwart Jova/Daniels/Busby-designed live/work complex that brought urbanism to Midtown in the 1970s. “It’s held onto its original feeling, and never tried to be anything more than it was intended to be. Plus, it’s a great location; I can walk just about everywhere.”

This unit, in particular, drew the architect’s interest because it was close to being original to the building. “Not much updating was needed other than a little fresh paint and refinishing the floors,” he recalls. “It was pretty before I moved a stick of furniture into it—an elegant shell for my things, a gorgeous container for everything.”

That “elegant shell” set the stage, too, for interiors quite different from those found in his primary residence in Birmingham (a petite cottage) and lake house at Lake Martin, Alabama (a shingle-style compound). “My furniture has always been in a more traditional setting. Using things I’ve collected over the years in fresh new ways makes this place feel like a true getaway,” Ingram says. “And I’ve never lived in a white setting like this before. I had the yellow sofa, which started a gold theme carried out in accents like mirrors and sconces. I thought that the warm gray worked well with the yellow, but everything else is pretty neutral—including the white walls and bleached floors.”

The floorplan, he points out, is by no means big but it’s open and flows spatially. It’s a lateral layout, wider than it is deep, which poses few problems thanks to a window wall that runs the entire length of the unit—and offers stunning views of Midtown beyond. Throughout, Ingram has carefully redefined spaces to better suit his lifestyle. What was once a “spare space,” perhaps used as a reading nook, now serves as a cozy dining alcove. Likewise, the original dining area is now a comfortable TV room. Even a corner of the living room is set up with a Saarinen table piled high with books and surrounded by slipcovered Saladino chairs, creating a mini-library.

He defines the overall well-edited look as “luxurious sparity; I have only the things I really want here. That—plus the fact that it’s secure, comfortable and quiet—makes Colony Square feel like a true getaway.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Bill Ingram, Bill Ingram Architect, 2205 Seventh Ave. S., Birmingham, Alabama 35233. (205) 324-5599;