Gina Christman has a keen intuition for print publishing and sharp eye for design. As publisher of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles since 1986, Gina cultivates the marketing, editorial and event relationships that come together for a luxurious read. In addition to displaying elegant properties and fine design, the magazine also sponsors countless events around Atlanta, many of which Gina holds dear. She’s committed to promoting Atlanta design as an international force … and she’s quite a force herself!
You’ve developed some wonderful partnerships around Atlanta. What are some of your favorite local events?
It would be hard to choose a favorite. I’m personally involved in some events more than others, so those are the ones I most enjoy — the more effort you put in to something, the more joy you get out of it, right? Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles has managed or sponsored more than 80 Designer show houses over the years. Our Home for the Holidays (coming this November on Habersham Road) may be the most demanding but most rewarding. The Atlanta Steeplechase and the High Museum Wine Auction are probably the most fun.
If you were registering for classes right now, what would you sign up to take?
Languages. I’ve always wanted to be fluent in Spanish and do take classes off and on, but I would really love to learn French. I have no aptitude for it—even Rosetta Stone flunked me—so if someone can teach me without cracking up, I’d be up for it. I think full immersion might be the only answer for me, and even then I would mess it up. That, and graphic design. When I started in the magazine publishing world in 1981, I loved the art and design aspect of the business and began to do graphics and layouts. I still get my “air” from design, starting a graphics company in my home in 2005. Although I was in the art program at UGA, I had zero schooling in computer graphics. So, after 33 years of self-teaching, I want to become proficient in all the newest computer graphic applications, especially web design.
Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles presents some magnificent properties and designs, what an incredible place to work! How have you seen influences from your work impact your own sense of personal style at home?
You are right about Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles being an incredible place to work! I am coming up on my 32nd year with the magazine, so it’s safe to say the rooms in my house have morphed about as many times. I love soft earthy colors, a combination of textures and lots of natural light, which is why I am replacing an entire exterior wall in my bedroom with a huge 12’ window at the moment. I am also somewhat of an art addict. I just don’t know when to stop.
How have you seen the design culture in Atlanta develop?
It’s so satisfying to see how revered Atlanta’s professional designers have become. Looking through our magazine’s archives shows an evolution in the sophistication of overall design here, and today our local design scene is respected all over the globe — almost all designers featured have clients outside the South, and many work internationally. We’ve chronicled the refinement of design styles over the years, and are seeing more and more successful risk-taking. We could not do what we do, at the magazine or in our show houses, without these talented pros.
As you’ve watched Atlanta grow what changes really get your attention?
Obviously traffic has my attention, but that’s not exciting. What is truly mind blowing to me is the emergence of a world-class food and wine scene. When I moved here in 1964, there were a few notable restaurants, like Fan & Bills, Coach & Six, Yohannons, and the venerable Varsity and Zesto’s, but now? I’d put our dining scene up against any city on the country— New York included.
Who do you consider to be your greatest mentors? What advice do you most cling to?
I’ve been a careful observer of people all my life, collecting lots of take-aways from those I most admire. At work, I have an incredible team of individuals around me that inspire me every day, but the best piece of advice I ever got came from my current boss and mentor, Adam Japko. When the economy took a spanking in 2008, like most businesses, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles went through a little, ah… hiccup. I took it personally, as though I must have been doing something wrong. Sensing my frustration (I think I started to cry on the phone), Adam said simply, “Just breathe.” It put things in perspective for me and I still say that to myself whenever I start to feel overwhelmed — especially in business, but in other areas of my life, too. Also, I’m greatly influenced by my Southern upbringing and my parents — my personable, generous father and my gentle, kind mother, who is actually the strongest woman I know.
In an alternate universe, what would your profession be?
I would love to hang out with Mickey Mouse. Maybe something on the idea team at Disney, figuring out new ways to keep people smiling. Just thinking about Epcot and Disney World chokes me up … in the best way. It’s where I spend my birthday every single year.
What are some of your personal splurges or little indulgences?
Champagne, whenever and just because. And I love pulling weeds in my garden, quietude and naps on Sunday.
Where might we find you lunching around town and what did you order?
I am somewhat known for my addiction to tuna. I am such a regular at Goldberg’s, they start getting my tuna salad together when they see me walk in the door. I also hang out at Goldfish at lunch for the best sushi. Anis Bistro, F&B and Bistro Niko are regular spots for the best Tuna Niçoise. I love St. Cecilia—I think it is the most beautiful restaurant in the city.
How do you relax and de-stress?
Pinterest. I am totally addicted. It’s like shopping for everything I love without spending a penny, going to places I dream about without getting on a plane and eating all I want without getting fat.
Where’s your ideal vacation spot? What about your fantasy travel destination?
I am a beach person, so my ideal destination’s where the water is crystal-blue, I can see my feet and a really handsome cabana boy brings me drinks. My fantasy big adventure would be a trip to Africa, and someday I’d love to travel the world on a mission to discover and study wine.
Do you have a particular host/hostess gift you enjoy sharing?
Wine or Champagne — both universally appreciated and I always have plenty to spare without having to go to the store.
What’s the last book you dove into and couldn’t emerge until the last chapter?
Not sure why, but I usually have two or three books going at once. Right now, it’s true crime author Ann Rule’s Practice to Deceive, Tilar Mazzeo’s The Widow Clicquot and Wine Tours in the South of France by Florence Hernandez.
Name three things without which you just cannot live — other than faith, family and friends.
Solitude, eggs, and If you can count them as one, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lady and Lucy.
Thank you, Gina, for sharing some of your perspective with us. You’re such a gracious lady!
We’ve all loved Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles print edition for years, but make sure to check out their online content at www.atlantahomesmag.com. Thanks also to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for those gorgeous photos of Gina.