For three seasons, Atlanta interior designer Cristi Holcombe worked on the HGTV show “Elbow Room,” so she knows more than anyone how television home shows have raised expectations. “Clients are more aware now of how their houses look, and they want to have that ‘beauty shot’ at the end of the project,” she says. The most requests come in for a “Fixer Upper” look, Cristi reveals, that well-known approach with shiplap, barn doors and wood elements. It’s her job to know when and how elements of a popular TV design style might work for real-life projects, since not every house looks right with certain features.

For this new construction project in Atlanta, Cristi was brought in at an early enough stage to help with design decisions, helping the homeowners get a rustic farmhouse with personal touches. The key to that look: stone and wood on the exterior and plenty of windows to enjoy the wooded setting. Inside, less can be more. “The key to achieving a rustic farmhouse look is designing a space that feels lived in more than overly decorated,” says the designer. “I think there’s something about the simplicity of a rustic home that’s really appealing.” In this case, barn doors and exposed beams were a must, with organic decor elements scattered throughout to finish off the look.

A warm color palette was also important. “One of the very first things my client said was ‘no gray,’” says Cristi. “So I was able to steer her away from neutrals that were too gold in color towards a nice tone somewhere in the greige family, with warm undertones of green. I love gray, but I think sometimes it can be overdone and can create too cold of a look in a home.”

Let’s take a peek inside to see how all of these thoughtful insights come together for the finished product …

Cristi created a unique X-motif treatment with the ceiling beams to play off the pitch of the ceiling; other wood touches bring in the rustic element. The fireplace benefits from a metal surround and marble hearth.

The homeowners raise Clumber Spaniels, a rare breed of hunting dogs from Europe. This built-in nook is a cozy place for a pooch to nap in the living room, so everyone can be together.

Warm earth tones and unique textures distinguish the kitchen. Barstools are from Restoration Hardware.

The steel vent hood was custom-made by Georgia artisan Jason Smith. Backsplash tiles are textured glass.

Custom pantry doors add a modern touch to the kitchen.

“I’m seeing more and more clients shy away from traditional dining spaces,” says Cristi. “This six-foot diameter round table is the perfect table in my opinion; you can seat up to 10 guests comfortably, and round tables are so great for conversations.” The art is casual and personal. The homeowner wanted to have a map of London somewhere, and when the design team couldn’t find a map large enough, they had a birds-eye view map custom-printed on a durable wallpaper backing and mounted to custom frames.

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An artistic faucet adds panache to the bar area sink.

Leaded glass cabinet doors in the bar area were salvaged from an original house on the property. The metal backsplash is also by Jason Smith.

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The homeowners are both avid readers and wanted plenty of built-ins in the home to store their collection of books, including large coffee table-sized books. Custom cabinetry in the library includes pull-out shelves and open storage with an X detail – handy for storing those extra-large books.

Upholstered chairs by Lee Industries flank a hallway console but can be moved into the adjacent family room, if needed.

Hints of plum and olive in fabrics were a starting point for the master bedroom.

His-and-her vanities in the master bath are separated by a large corner area, so the designer used that space to store a small under-cabinet refrigerator.

A glamorous “wet room” in the master bath includes floor-to-ceiling tiles and both a tub and shower side-by-side. As a cool feature, designer Cristi Holcombe made the glass shower doors “French doors.”

Interior designer Cristi Holcombe grew up on a farm, but she now lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and two children. While working on HGTV’s “Elbow Room” as a production designer, she contributed to 39 projects that ran on the popular show. Image: Lindsay Hooten

Custom touches are everywhere: the steel vent hood and metal fireplace surround, library shelving that’s just right for the homeowners’ books and personal art that relates to family travels. This house has all the benefits of being television-ready, yet has enough personal touches to stand out.

Gorgeous photos by Rustic White Photography, unless otherwise noted. 


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