Third Act

An accomplished design team transforms a 1950s-era brick abode in Buckhead into a rural English cottage-style dwelling that better reflects the young homeowners

Although it had been updated in a previous renovation, this 1950s-era brick abode in Buckhead lacked a cohesive style and didn’t reflect its new owners, a young couple with three children. “The original renovation emphasized a French vernacular aesthetic, however the compartmentalized living spaces still felt like a ’50s ranch,” explains architect Stephen Fintak. “Our goal was to create a more relaxed English cottage that lives in a contemporary way.”

During the nearly one-year gut renovation, the architect had the exterior brick repainted, raised the shed dormer to create a full second floor, replaced most of the windows and deliberately introduced the sort of minor imperfections that are a hallmark of rural English architecture. Think windows that don’t precisely align and shutters that don’t lay flat against the brick. “The original programming for this project was that of a smaller renovation, but the owners were not willing to go halfway and were very receptive to the broad-scope approach proposed by the design team,” he says.

Involved from nearly the get-go, interior designer Lanier Gupton introduced a lively mix of furnishings punctuated by discreet patterns and pops of color. Surrounded by English Drabware porcelain, for example, a French barometer is one of the many timeworn pieces in the front foyer. And a vintage green hutch plays off the custom white cabinetry in the spacious kitchen and keeping room. “It’s beautiful and formal, but
the colors make it feel young and fresh,” she says.

Indeed, inspired by the blue and green hues just outside, Gupton peppered the colors throughout the interior. A light blue area rug, for example, defines a convivial seating area in the keeping room and kitchen, where a pair of shiplap-lined arched niches house a scullery and a breakfast nook that overlook the backyard. And light blue draperies with a contemporary trim comprise a pleasing array of blues in the formal living room, complemented by a skirted sofa and a pair of mismatched antique chairs.

 While color and pattern play a supporting role in the main rooms, it takes center stage in several of the ancillary spaces. The bar, for example, is lacquered in a sage green hue accented by an antiqued mirror. “It’s a jewel box,” says Gupton.

Concealing doorways to the en suite bathroom and a spacious closet, blue velvet-clad cabinetry likewise creates a wow moment in the husband’s office. “Each space has its own character, but they all feel cozy and warm,” she says.

The palette flows outside, where the designer worked closely with landscape architect Jonathan Bussell to select furnishings and accessories. A pair of blue umbrellas shade the teak chaises near the pool while perfectly coordinating with the newly added bluestone pavers. Centered behind the new spillover spa at the far end of the swimming pool, a sculptural olive jar is another one of Gupton’s finds. “It draws the eye back and creates a focal point,” says Bussell.

Reflecting the sinuous lines of the new driveway, curvaceous beds filled with azaleas, Asiatic jasmine and other Southern plants wind throughout the nearly one-acre property. “The curvilinear forms nestle the house into the woodland setting of mature oaks and beech trees while echoing the sinuous lines of the stream that winds through the property,”says Bussell.

The owners are thrilled with the result of the nearly year-long renovation, often hosting friends and family for jovial soirées that spill out the French doors in the keeping room to the secluded backyard patio. “The inside and outside work together really well,” says Gupton. “I think they’re going to live here for a long time.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Lanier Gupton, Lanier Interiors, Ltd., (404) 606-3848; ARCHITECT Stephen Fintak, D. Stanley Dixon Architect, (404) 574-1430; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Jonathan Bussell, Jonathan Bussell Landscape Architect; BUILDER Mark Smith, Smith Built Homes, (706) 438-1352;