How Unexpected Color Combinations Gave This Old Home New Life

Hadley Keller
·4 min read
Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

There’s magenta piping on the dining chairs and marigold drapes framing the windows. In fact, little about this Atlanta home by Melanie Turner doesn’t make you smile. But there’s a deeper significance to the happy interiors: “It’s probably the most thoughtful project we’ve ever worked on,” the designer says. “A young family, a historic house, heirlooms, and playfulness all in one.”

Built in 1950 by the influential Atlanta architect Lewis “Buck” Crook, Jr., in the city’s Buckhead neighborhood, the house offered a solid foundation to a family that was eager to honor its history while creating a comfortable home. Working with architect Julia Stainback and builder Mike Helenbrook, Turner sought to restore that legacy while setting the scene for a happy future. “The main thing that was important, besides [making the design] practical and livable, was incorporating family heirlooms,” says Turner.

To find the balance in it all, the designer turned to nontraditional colors and treatments—two monochrome rooms, for instance, in olive green and dusty rose—that feel modern but underscore historic details. She also used paint to spotlight the home’s architecture, swathing original doors in a glossy black that shows off their shape and treating trim with a high-contrast white in every room except the library, where the extensive (and original) millwork is the same color, Farrow & Ball Calke Green, as the walls.

The furniture is a mix of the family’s antiques, midcentury finds, and contemporary pieces, giving the home a lovingly lived-in look—despite a relatively short timeline for the renovation. “Mixing everything just makes the project better,” Turner says. “It’s what makes a timeless room.” There’s a practicality here too: “I’m a big proponent of repurposing where you can,” says the designer, who reframed much of the family’s art to give it a new look in the home.

And while the finished design does right by the original, it’s also unapologetically suited to the kind of family it houses now. Just take the grand entryway, where a scenic wallpaper, Louis XV chest, and Baroque mirror set a formal tone, but the floors are noticeably bare. “They were adamant about not having a rug in there,” Turner says, “because it’s where the girls practice ballet.”

Library

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

No, those color-coordinated tomes aren’t props—they’re family scrapbooks
compiled by the homeowners and set into Lewis Crook's original millwork. Art: Richard Olsen, from TEW Galleries. Chairs: Lee Industries. Table: custom, The CEH. Lamps: RH. Chess set: CB2. Paint: Calke Green by Farrow & Ball.

Dining Room

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

The chandelier, original to the home, gets new life against a modern painting by Michele James. The antique table and rug are family heirlooms. Paint: Skylight by Farrow &
Ball (walls) and Caviar by Sherwin-Williams (door). Dining chairs: in Queens Velvet Sky fabric by Ballard Designs, with contrasting welt by Dogwood Fabrics.

Entry

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

The client’s grandmother’s antique mirror is paired with art by Eleanor Driver Post. Chest: Louis XV, Davon’s Antiques. Art: Eleanor Driver Post (front) and vintage (back). Wallpaper: Iksel, through Schumacher.

Lounge

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

A Lee Industries sofa, covered in the family’s own pillows, turns a hall outside the bedrooms into an inviting hangout. Ottomans: Mrs. Howard. Art: Todd Schroeder. Carpet Miami Circle Floor Coverings.

Living Room

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

An assortment of furniture styles is united by a common colorway. Paint: Windswept Canyon by Sherwin-Williams. Sofa and armchairs: Kelly Wearstler. Black side table: Global Views. Pouf: Hickory Chair. Art: Eleanor Driver Post. Coffee table, floor lamps, and mirrored screen: vintage. Carpet Miami Circle Floor Coverings.

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

Turner reframed family art, vintage finds, and a work by Eleanor Driver Post (bottom right) for a graphic gallery wall. The homeowners found the Lucite tables in Paris; the sideboard is a family heirloom. Sofa: Hickory Chair. Rug: Nourison.

A Different Point of View
In the living room, dining room, and kitchen, Turner chose not to use window treatments so that maximum sunlight would spill inside (and also show off the original window frames). Before committing, see how the paint truly reads in full sunlight. A western exposure in the living room allows the family to watch the sunset while they hang out—plus, it gives Sherwin-Williams Windswept Canyon a “faded look,” says Turner, making it the perfect backdrop for their art.

Bedroom

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

The client’s own marigold bench ties in with the Josef Frank print on the Moss Studio bench and the antique metal lemon tree from Parc Monceau. Paint: Borrowed Light by Farrow & Ball. Bed and nightstand: Hickory Chair. Lighting: Circa Lighting.

Kitchen

Photo credit: Mali Azima
Photo credit: Mali Azima

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In the home’s least colorful room, metal accents make a statement. Hood: B&W Custom Copper. Cabinetry: custom. Stools: DWR. In lieu of can lights, Turner opted for an array of Circa Lighting pendants: “It’s more fun and whimsical," she says

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