Occasionally, even a new house can benefit from a makeover. This Buckhead home in Atlanta had some beautiful features already: a classic white kitchen, wide open spaces and a gorgeous wooden front door. Once interior designers Joann Kandrac and Kelly Kole of Kandrac Kole got a hold of it, however, this spec house became a thing of beauty — and a great backdrop for the family of four who calls it home.
Sometimes architectural features need a new function. “There were a few challenges from the builder we had to deal with in terms of arched, inset niches that really didn’t serve any purpose,” says Kelly. “In the living room, we took the opportunity to dress them up with pretty gold shelves and knick-knacks. The other one was in the family room, where we ended up fitting an oversized arched vintage mirror in the space to make it attractive.”
Before shot of the foyer
“The foyer was almost like a room in and of itself, so we treated it as such with pretty, neutral wallpaper that wouldn’t compete with the dining room and library on either side,” says Kelly. “We then had a durable carpet cut to a custom size and added commissioned art pieces of the girls painted by Gina Hurry through Gregg Irby Gallery.”
Living room before
The living room serves as a place for the family to gather and play piano or read, but it also needed to be a strong “first impression” room, says the designers. To fulfill the homeowner’s request for happy colors, Kandrac & Kole chose a lively patterned fabric by Thibaut for window treatments and original art from Pryor Fine Art.
Dining room before
A wallpapered ceiling gives the dining room a strong focal point, further enhanced by a new light fixture and paint. “We went round and round about how to treat the millwork on the main wall and finally decided that we liked the architectural interest it provided if we painted it the trim color,” says Kelly.
“I think dining rooms often have too much furniture in them,” says JoAnn. “I like having a console to serve food and drinks and offer a place for additional lighting, but aside from a table and chairs, it should be all about comfort and company.” Table and console are from Theodore Alexander.
Artwork mimicking the color of the walls keeps the room simple and organic.
The design team has several proven ways to update a space, all evident in this house. One: improve and modernize existing lighting, often called the “jewelry” of a room. “Usually the scale of light fixtures is small and the wattage is low in standard builder lighting, and table lamps are not tall enough and poor quality,” says Joann. Bigger items often read better, which ties into another recommendation of theirs: ditch the dinky pillows. Invest in quality, down-made throw pillows at least 20 inches square on a sofa or chair, they say.
And don’t forget the power of paint. A fresh coat of paint on walls makes an instant impact, but they also love the look of painted furniture. “We like to scour antique markets or take homeowners’ inherited pieces – items that have interesting legs, drawers and shape – and lacquer them in fun colors,” says Kelly. Changing out the hardware can make a big difference also, she says. For this house, they took two brown-wood side tables, had them repainted with green lacquer, and now the tables liven up the basement TV room. “We took something sentimental but beat-up, brown and very blah, and turned them into something special,” she says. Nothing about this house is blah, anymore, thanks to clever upgrades in every room.
Since the kitchen was new, the designers didn’t need to do much, but they livened the room with new lighting from Visual Comfort & Co. and sturdy barstools from Serena & Lily.
Family room before
An extra-long Bernhardt sectional and a custom lacquered sofa table (96 inches long) show that big-scale furniture can be chic, too.
“Our client specifically requested that this be a room for family snuggling, reading and talking,” says Kelly. “And it was a blessing that we didn’t have to design around a TV!” Instead, the fireplace is adorned with a 48-inch square painting called “Rise & Shine” by Erin Gregory through Annie Irwin Fine Art.
A colorful Flor carpet (individual rug tiles) anchors the playroom, which is all about being fun and crafty.
“The girls love arts and crafts, so the desks and a place to hang their artwork were very important,” says Kelly. “The Matisse quote on the wall was custom painted by Kristen Davis.”
The husband wanted the billiards room to look like his favorite restaurant in Roswell that has a “wine cellar” feeling, so the designers ordered Stikwood panels applied to the walls. Continuing the rustic look, bar stools have legs made from wine barrels.
Thank you to Lauren Rubinstein Portfolios for the beautiful “after” photos.
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