Once children are out of the nest, houses can be reborn. That was the case for this Atlanta couple with two kids in college. The husband is a builder, and the wife is a real estate agent, but even though they’re “house” people, they decided to bring in interior designer Michele Gratch to help pull a new look together.

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“They’re recent empty-nesters who had sacrificed what they wanted aesthetically due to a busy lifestyle with kids and pets,” Michele says. “They wanted their home to have a clean, transitional feel with pops of color throughout to add vibrancy to the space.” Since pets were still around, Michele made sure her selections kept the home animal-friendly.

“My client works from home and wanted her office to be comfortable yet sophisticated, since it’s one of the first rooms you see when you walk into the house,” Michele says. “We wallpapered the ceiling in this beautiful aqua-silver snakeskin by Anna French that gave the office a glamorous and feminine feel. Then we grounded it with a black rug and added texture with a leather desk and furniture with metal accents.”

An elegant but understated light fixture from Currey & Co. allows other elements in the office to stand out. Custom chairs from Ambella Home wear a feminine animal print.

A glass top protects the swanky leather desk.

“Those pocket doors with the antique glass are one of my favorite details in the house,” Michele says. “They add an elegance to the office, and the reflection when they’re closed is so pretty.”

They re-did many parts of the house during this makeover, including the kitchen and bathrooms, and they expanded the master bedroom. The team also pursued simpler architectural updates: fretwork on the dining room ceiling and wooden beams and a new plaster fireplace in the living room.

The newly remodeled kitchen includes a table and custom vinyl-covered banquette for casual eating and easy cleaning. The metal-clad hood was built by cabinet-maker Kingdom Woodworks.

“My clients love to drink coffee here in the morning and read the paper and watch TV,” says the designer.

The dining room is a perfect square, so a round table was a must and also makes conversation with dinner guests easy and intimate. Fretwork on the ceiling and metallic glass cloth on the walls elevate the neutral room. The dining table and chairs are from Bernhardt.

For the master bath, the designer chose sconces from Worlds Away, wallpaper by Thibaut and cabinets in Benjamin Moore Blue Springs to complement the color in the master bedroom. For visual pizazz, she mixed polished nickel and crystal on cabinet hardware.

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“My clients are both from Florida and wanted their master bedroom to have a beachy feel even though it’s not a beach house,” Michele says. “We accomplished this by bathing the walls in Benjamin Moore Heavenly Blue, white-washing the planks on the ceiling and using a canopy bed with crisp, white bedding.”

An indoor-outdoor rug from Dash & Albert adds subtle pattern to the master bedroom.

An even easier upgrade Michele recommends: repainting the whole house. “Paint can be a game changer and instantly make a space feel fresh and current,” she says. “We wanted to keep the house feeling light and airy, so most of the rooms are either painted Benjamin Moore White Dove or Bruton White. White Dove is a warm, versatile white, and Bruton White has a touch of gray.”

Another way to ready a house for the next chapter of life: edit out accessories (all those framed photos that can accumulate … we’re looking at you) and maybe replace them with new items and some fresh pillows. But beware, when the kids come home to visit, they might be so impressed they decide to move back in.

The family has a dog and a cat, so fabric selections for the new family room furniture needed to be pet-friendly. Colors chosen for the vibrant ottoman became a starting point for the whole house. Consoles with an X-motif are from Tritter Feefer.

Because the family dog loves to look out the window seat, Michele used performance fabric by Thibaut for all the components.

For more on Michele Gratch, see our interior design crush feature on her here. She has since merged with fellow Atlanta designer Julie Montgomery for the design duo Montgomery-Gratch Interiors.

All house photos are by Christina Wedge, and Michele’s portrait is by Jake Laughlin.


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