For many couples starting married life together, the two (perhaps three, counting Fido) live in a small space, maybe an apartment or condo, stuffed with hand-me-down furniture. Because let’s be honest, outdated furniture is better than no furniture at all. But as time goes by and the family grows, homeowners want their place to be an inviting space that truly reflects who they are. That’s when the much-needed home makeover begins.

When Leah Tennille and her husband moved from a townhouse into their Buckhead home, they realized their furniture just didn’t fit. The combination of dark wood, old lighting fixtures and ill-fitting furniture made the home feel dreary and just “not them.” So they decided it was time to send in the big guns and get professional design help for their home makeover. Enter Clary Bosbyshell of Margaux Interiors Ltd.

Before pic of the Tennille sunroom

BEFORE: The large, dark furniture seems to obscure the natural light streaming in from the sunroom.

Sunroom after shot with more light and new patterns.

AFTER: A lighter coat of paint and cooler fabrics help to brighten the space. The chevron pillows and stool, from Martyn Lawrence Bullard for Schumacher Fabric, break up the look and allow your eyes to rest on the lovely pattern.

“Leah and her husband, Dre, wanted the house to look like them and be functional, yet pretty, for their family,” says Clary. “Just from briefly meeting Leah, I totally connected with her and got a great feel for her vibe and aesthetic. We started with a traditional base in her furniture lines and layered them with more modern and eclectic pillows and accessories.”

Fiddle leaf fig in sunroom

A sunroom is the perfect place to bring the outdoors in, like with a fiddle leaf fig and garden stool. The soft blue spindle chairs come from Wesley Hall Furniture.

The team began redecorating in stages, starting first where the Tennilles spend the most amount of time—their sunroom/den, dining room and living room. Clary’s first challenge was to lighten the home, creating spaces people would enjoy. She used Benjamin Moore’s White Dove paint to brighten the walls, and focused on lighter upholstery, fabrics and rugs. On top of that, she manipulated natural light and brought many outdoor elements indoors. In fact, she always encourages her clients to have real plants, as its “good Feng shui and puts out positive energy into the home.”

“Everyone remarks how comfortable and bright our home is,” says Leah. “It’s a perfect space for entertaining, but also for daily family living.”

Dark, dingy dining room

BEFORE: The dark, overpowering furniture is masking this dining room’s potential.

Semmie and Madge paintings

AFTER: Besides the original painting “Semmie and Madge,” take a look at the beautiful succulent terrarium from Lush Life. It’s important to note that the chandelier is from the original layout.

Another view of the dining room

Another view of the dining room

Juju feather artpiece

A close-up view of the juju headress feathers used as a piece of art in the dining room

Clary mixed modern art in a traditional setting to create a fresh, more layered feel. The dining room features the eye-catching paintings “Semmie and Madge” by local artist Sally King Benedict, and, as Leah says, “they just make me happy every time I see them.” A Sarah Otts painting, hanging over the living room sofa, came from the Anne Irwin Gallery. Even unconventional items can be made into art—Clary repurposed African juju feather headdresses into hanging art in the dining room.

Repurposing came in handy again as Clary worked to use some of the family’s existing furniture and décor in the new space. She used side tables originally from the couple’s bedroom as part of the redecorated living room. In fact, the living room features almost all existing furniture—with a twist. Clary rewired the lamps and added Lucite bases and modern shades; she layered the existing Oushak rug on top of a new sisal one to make the room feel bigger; and she added new pillows and the Sarah Otts painting to refresh the sofa and chairs.

Sparse living room with no furniture

BEFORE: The formal living room was a clean slate since the Tennille family hadn’t begun filling the room with many pieces. The luxurious fireplace eventually became a major focal point.

Atlanta living room with orange lucite lamps

AFTER: Most of these elements already belonged to the owner and got a facelift with some tricks of the trade, like adding Lucite bases and new shades to the orange lamps.

“Clary did an awesome job using my existing stuff,” says Leah. “A perfect example was our dining room chandelier, which was original to the house. Instead of getting a new fixture, Clary took it to Lamp Arts and had them update it—much cheaper than buying a new fixture and also cool that we got to use an original one.”

Since the Tennilles are redecorating in stages, next on the list is the master bedroom and their son’s “big boy” room. “Once you get one room done, it’s addictive and you want to keep doing more,” says Leah. Regardless of which room they work on next or if they eventually add on to the home, they know that Clary will be involved in all phases.

Atlanta gallery wall

A gallery wall is a great way to show off family portraits, artwork and other hanging pieces. The sunburst wooden mirror, from Pieces, and the various paintings offer a lived-in look to the home.

Mantle with succulents

Nature makes its way indoors at the mantel with a painting of birch trees by Sarah Cameli, from Gregg Irby Gallery and succulents from Lush Life.

This bright, cheery, Buckhead home continues to evolve into an inviting space that will be a welcome family respite for years and years to come.

A big thank you to Heidi Geldhauser from Our Labor of Love for the gorgeous photographs.