When Buckhead residents Angela and Fred Bromenschenkel first walked into their English cottage home three years ago, they knew it was for them. The couple, expecting twins at the time, needed a larger home to accommodate their growing family, but also knew that they weren’t up for a total remodel, something they’d endured in their previous, more contemporary home.
Luckily for them, the home was for sale by the daughter of interior designer Wendy Meredith, and she’d completely renovated and updated the house just a few years before. “They literally took it down to the studs,” says Angela, herself a residential designer who at one point worked with Dan Carithers before going out on her own in 2000. “The bones were all there and we loved it—especially the kitchen. It was exactly what we’d have done ourselves. It was a big draw.”
The fact that the home was an English-style cottage also appealed to the couple’s sense of style. “We definitely have an affinity toward English antiques,” Angela says. “And we knew the more casual nature of this house would fit the next chapter of our life.” A chapter that would, of course, include twin boys—a significant detail Angela and Fred knew would dictate the majority of their own interior plan.
Angela took the lead on the design, and her main objective was to create an informal living environment that would maintain the integrity of the old English cottage style. But she also needed the home to withstand the wear-and-tear of twin boys, as well as accommodate two separate office spaces where she and Fred both intended to work. It was a tall order, but Angela made it work effortlessly. The couple finished the home’s basement to house a workspace for Angela and a playroom for the twins, and created an office for Fred in an existing upstairs loft space. “Working from home is great because it gives us so much time with the boys,” Angela says. “It comes with its challenges, though; the house is always very busy.”
For the home’s color palette, Angela chose cool, subdued tones and used the couple’s artwork—including a collection of 19th-century English hand-colored sketches, several paintings from Angela’s grandfather’s home in Holland, and oils her mother painted—to add excitement and depth. She stuck to durable, neutral fabrics whenever possible, and even had furniture custom-made for the family room. “We decided to sell most of the furniture from our previous house and had pieces made specifically for the scale of this room,” Angela says.
In the more formal living area, Angela had the sofa and chairs covered in velvets, linens and chenilles in rich reds and browns, but also had slipcovers made of soft floral fabrics in shades of blue and gray. “I wanted to create two rooms in one,” she says. “The slipcovers let me have one look in the winter and an entirely different look in spring and summer.”
Even though the interior design needed little more than some personal touches, the landscape design—or lack thereof—was a five-month undertaking that required the help of landscape architect Hugh Dargan, ASLA. “We wanted to work with Hugh because he’s known for his timeless, classic style,” Angela says.
“The front yard had a circular driveway that was the only thing visible from inside,” Dargan says. “And the back yard was just a huge hillside with no room for anything except a small terrace off the back of the house. They just wanted to make the yards better.”
In the back, Dargan used a retaining wall built of tumbled crab orchard stone to push the hillside back and add more lawn. The same stone was used to create a multi-tiered garden area that he filled with a variety of trees and plants. “We used perennials like hydrangeas, hostas, azaleas and camellias, plus dogwoods and rosebuds that would bloom as much as possible throughout the year,” Dargan says.
The front yard’s circular driveway was removed completely and replaced with a walkway and grass area edged with the same crab orchard stone. “The stone gives it a soft, easy look,” Dargan says. “We really revamped the entire area and gave it a more charming and quaint cottage feeling.”
The couple was so thrilled with the completed results that they took one final step and added a dramatic screened-in porch off the kitchen overlooking the new back yard, and built a wood-burning fireplace outside onto the existing slate patio. “We use the porch about nine months out of the year. It’s really another living space—it’s just outside.” Angela says. “We firmly believe you should live in every part of a home, and that’s what this house allows us to do. We love it.”
Angela Bromenschenkel, Beeren Bromenschenkel Design Consultants, Inc., Atlanta, (404) 993-9922