Interior designer Steve McKenzie owns a popular home furnishings store, steve mckenzie’s, and he’s also a painter. Occasionally, all three worlds come together nicely, such as in this Candler Park house near downtown Atlanta. Steve helped a young couple pull together their traditional and modern sensibilities, with his own abstract art as a striking focal point. “I think my background as an artist really helps my sense of color and balance of furniture in a space,” he says. “And being an artist sometimes gives me permission to push the traditional boundaries of color as well.”
This historic house began life in 1908, so Steve was able to use the good “bones” of the house — hardwood floors with an aged patina, ample molding in rooms — as a starting point to add layers of color. Aqua and orange add the punctuation points in most of the rooms, often with a historic twist: an antique rug in the living room has an overlay of orange on the pattern, and a barrel-style side table is given a coat of burnt orange. Steve made sure the colors aren’t too overwhelming by mixing in plenty of neutrals. “I did use a lot of color and pattern in this home but I always try to balance that with some calming force,” says Steve. “I think the greys throughout the house provide that foil for the oranges and aquas.”
Like many kitchens from that era, this one had a small galley layout, so it needed a complete overhaul to serve the family. Steve opened up the wall between the dining room and kitchen and eliminated some windows to create more space for new cabinetry. The star of the room? That La Cornue range with its happy French blue color. Working with Debbie Blumencranz of Design Galleria Kitchens & Baths, Steve incorporated a lot of function into the limited space, including a custom oak cabinet that holds the Subzero and other appliances. “I love that the cabinet looks like a piece of furniture,” says Steve.
The project disproves the idea that a historic house needs to look stuffy or museum-like to retain its character. As Steve points out, the husband is a Naval Academy graduate and his wife grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson-designed architecture rules, so they have a deep appreciation for heritage. “They were great clients to let me take some chances,” says the designer, “We enjoyed working together to figure out what they wanted and to get this end result.”
Thanks to Steve McKenzie for sharing a look at this gorgeous home. And thanks to Marc Mauldin Photography for fantastic photos!
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