Simply Charming

With the renovation behind her, a Buckhead homeowner falls in love with her house all over again

You never know when you might make that all-important first impression. Just ask designer Alice Cramer. Little did she realize, when Lu Worrell happened to see some work Cramer had done, that she’d gained a fan—and a new client in the process.

“I was in a friend’s home and admired the window treatments. They were the most beautiful I’d ever seen!” says ­Lu. “I knew of Alice; in fact, we live in the same Buckhead neighborhood. Once I saw her work, I knew we had to hire her.”

But Worrell’s project involved much more than mere window treatments. Lu and her husband, James, had—after years—finally decided to transform their three-bedroom home into a two-bedroom residence, re-allocating space throughout to better meet their current needs.

“We decided to make some changes that would make the house nice for us, and forget about resale value,” Lu explains.

Once they made the decision, there was no looking back; the Worrells completely gutted the place, with Cramer serving as project manager. “No. 1 on Lu’s list for change was a new kitchen, with all the bells and whistles,” says the designer. “She is quite a cook, and it was delightful to see someone get the space in which to enjoy their passion.” Generally, she adds, the owners wanted more space to spread out and entertain more comfortably. Specifically, on the second floor, they wanted a new master bath, a bedroom/bath suite for their daughter, a laundry room and a screened porch.

In terms of style, Cramer recalls there was no grand plan. “I don’t believe we set out to create a certain style,” she says, “but it helps greatly when clients fall in love with something—whether it’s a piece of fabric, wallpaper, rug or a work of art. That helps me guide them in their choices creating a style that suits them. Lu was very decisive, but she was also ready to take a few chances that were out of the box for her.”

One of the decisions that was not out of the box, though, was incorporating Lu’s favorite color—blue—throughout the house. “Alice said I couldn’t have blue in every room, but I do!” Lu laughs. But she knows it wouldn’t have been possible without the designer’s deft touch. “I’d had a lot of blue [in my homes] before, but it was always more ­floral, much busier. The way Alice used the color, it’s clean and sophisticated, very grown-up.”

Case in point is the kitchen, which, thanks to the remodeling, is now four times its original size. Here, a soft blue washes over all of the cabinetry except the base of the island, its bright white finish melding quietly into the marble countertop. Blue cabinets may have been a bold choice for some, but for this homeowner it’s more akin to signature style. “Lu credits me for the idea and I credit her,” says Cramer. “Somewhere in between we had a meeting of the minds, and we both love it.”

A similar shade of blue appears in the living room, again in a major way. Cramer used the cool hue to upholster an L-shaped banquette, the clean lines of which complement the more curvaceous French chair that’s part of the same seating group. Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, four armless chairs compose a secondary seating area at fireside.

“The biggest challenge throughout this project was probably creating a floor plan for the living room,” says the designer. That’s because on one end of the long, rectangular space was a fireplace with entrances to the sunroom on either side; on the other end were doorways leading to the foyer and dining room. Despite the space’s multiple openings, Cramer managed to incorporate more seating than the Worrells had in their original living room.

Throughout the renovation, many rooms changed in size and shape while others were entirely new. The dining room, however, stayed exactly the same. Almost. Newly built-in corner cabinets flanking the room’s window—with mirrored fronts—make the space appear bigger than its actual dimensions. In terms of a color scheme, the lime green accent established in the adjacent living room reappears on the seats of the dining room chairs; it’s particularly fresh-looking when used in tandem with coral-and-white curtains. And where, you may ask, is Lu’s signature blue? In the area rug, along with hints of coral and green.

In the end, says Lu, this home has exactly what she was looking for—color and fun. Plus, adds Cramer, it works precisely how the homeowners envisioned: It’s just as comfortable for three as it is for 30.

Alice M. Cramer Interiors, Atlanta, (404) 355-3797