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The magic of the holiday season and the magic of construction have more in common than you might think. The holidays, for example, bring smiles to the faces of the young and young at heart. This time of year makes our eyes twinkle, and our hearts swell. We’d argue that construction can do the same, especially when it comes to restoring a quaint saltbox house into a cozy Aspen-chic stunner in the heart of Atlanta.

Now in its 11th year, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 2019 Home for the Holidays Showhouse features 5,500 square feet of spaces designed by the area’s top interior talents, including Maggie Griffin, Jena Salmon and Tish Mills Kirk. Harrison Design was the architectural lead, while the home was developed by The O’Donnell Group LLC and overseen by contractors White Oak Fine Homes and Firelight Homes. The finished product is a harmonious home described by Frank Heery of Harrison Design as “having its own spirit.”

Located in Sandy Springs, the showhouse is all but hidden by its surrounding city forest. Blink, and you might miss the long, seemingly private driveway. The home settles into its small valley and is stacked with floor-to-ceiling windows for taking in the lush surroundings. While fall foliage is present now, one can only imagine waking to a blanket of snow in winter or a tapestry of greenery come spring.

Unlike the holiday showhouses of Christmases past, this year’s home is a renovation. Before it transformed into the beauty it is now, it was a humble 1950s-era home with charming details and accents. The large school bell that greets visitors, for example, was used by the previous homeowners to wrangle their four children from the surrounding woods for dinner. Touches like these have kept the authenticity and spirit of the home alive. Architects from Harrison Design were able to give the new owners those craveable modern luxuries — like an enormous kitchen, complete with not one but two islands, with plenty of space for holiday entertaining and food prep — without losing any of the charm of the past.

Take a look at some amazing before and after photos that show the incredible transformation:

Before Photo- 2019 Home for the Holidays Showhouse

BEFORE: You’re never going to believe the holiday transformation of this 1950s-era saltbox house. Image: Harrison Design

AFTER: Can you spot some of the original design details including the antique school bell? Image: Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles

RELATED: Step Inside the 2019 Serenbe Showhouse

2019 Home for the Holidays Showhouse in Atlanta

Not one but two islands in the kitchen designed by Holt Interiors offer ample room for holiday food prep and entertaining. Image: David Christensen.

A bevy of Atlanta designers and sponsors followed Harrison Design’s lead. On the first floor, Anna Braund’s study opens to the original family room fireplace, where traditional red brick has been replaced with magnificent marble. Here, a hand-painted, lacquered white ceiling playfully bounces light throughout the otherwise dim space. As your eyes travel from piece to piece, you begin to notice the marriage of old and new. Tasseled slipper chairs anchor a conversation corner while an antique chest serves as a bourbon-stocked bar. Contemporary art, ranging from large scale digital prints to moody photography, finishes the space with a hint of transitional luxury.

Before Photo- living room

BEFORE: Dark, worn flooring and the red brick hearth make this space dreary and uninviting. Image: Harrison Design.

AFTER: Talk about a WOW after photo! The family room, also by Holt Interiors, showcases gorgeous architectural details, especially in the ceiling. Image: David Christensen

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Follow the sculptural staircase to the upstairs gallery and reading loft designed by Grayson Pratt Interiors. At the apex, two intimate vignettes filled with antiques serve as reading nooks, flanking the open gallery to the first floor below. During the day, this sun-drenched spot is ideal for taking in the surrounding nature, as well as the vibrant gallery wall featuring artists from Spotlight on Art, which includes artists such as Eva Magill-Oliver, Susan Hable, Sarah Robertson, Mark Boomershine, Paige Follmann, Christine Sommerville and Laura Clark. Come evening, you can almost picture drawing the family close to the towering tree as a few passages of A Christmas Carol are read aloud.

Grayson Pratt design at 2019 Home for the Holidays Showhouse

Designer Grayson Pratt used art from Spotlight on Art for her upstairs gallery and reading lofts. Here, there is ample space to read and relax. Image: David Christensen

Christmas tree at Atlanta's 2019 Home for the Holidays showhouse

Celebrate the holiday season at Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Showhouse. Image: David Christensen.

Just beyond the gallery wall is Maria McLaurin’s upstairs bedroom. According to Maria, she was inspired by Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” And rightly so — the room is quintessentially calm. A rosewood canopy bed fits snugly in front of a plaster-paneled wall with twig-like texture. The vintage, mid-century modern wood and amber glass light fixture offers soft, ambient light and is perched just in front of the bed, so no need to watch your head. The real showstopper in this room, however, is the window that serves as an artistic focal point.

Head back downstairs, taking-in Anna Louis-Wolfe’s entry foyer and staircase nook. Her choice to use Scrolling Acanthus wallpaper by Soane, as well as complementary cobalt antique rugs, greets guests with immediate personality. Don’t miss her staircase vignette; the darling needlepoint chair and diminutive Christmas tree would be the perfect playspot for the tiniest Nutcracker princess.

Anna-Louise Wolf entryway

Anna-Louise Wolf designed the cheerful entryway. Her use of cobalt blue along with Christmas red is perfect for those of us dreaming of a chinoiserie-chic blue holiday. Image: David Christensen.

While each room in the house tells a distinct story, it’s the architectural accents of this home — including exposed beams, towering windows and curving staircases — that make it come to life. Every detail is like an accessory of a well-dressed woman, each one thoughtfully placed with complete attention to how it will affect the overall aesthetic. And it’s a huge success! Of course, the cheery holiday decor helps, too.

The Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 2019 Home for the Holidays Showhouse is presented by Harrison Design and The O’Donnell Group, produced by Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The home is located at 4825 Woodvale Dr. NW, Atlanta, GA 30327, and runs now through December 8, 2019. Hours are Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday through Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day. Advance admission is $33. Tickets at the door are $35. Parking is available along Woodvale Drive Northwest with a shuttle running daily. Find more information at


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