This home was originally built in 1939 and designed by Clement J. Ford, an architect known for creating comfortable, modest homes in the Druid Hills and Buckhead neighborhoods of Atlanta, Georgia. After the very first visit to see the house, we did a quick napkin sketch that we developed into an overall design to modernize the interior spaces. We fell in love with the property and the house’s small but gracious bones, its simple fluted trim, interior arches, and built-in bookcases. It was clear that a thoughtful architect had been involved with its inception. But the house needed a full electrical overhaul to get up to current code requirements, plus it was in desperate need of a new kitchen and updated bathrooms. We purchased the house in 2008 and started a 6-month renovation. We did a subsequent renovation of the attic in 2012, adding a dormer to house a new guest bedroom, bathroom, and living space. We re-landscaped the backyard and renovated the pool area in 2015. And there are always ongoing tweaks because nothing is ever done!
Who are the clients and what's interesting about them?
Tell the story behind the house - when the house was first built, when you purchased it, what shape it was in at that time, what you've added/changed structurally since then.
Our home was built in 1939 and designed by Clement J. Ford, a local architect known for creating comfortable, modest family homes in Druid Hills and Buckhead. Our house is a white-painted brick cottage on just under a half acre lot near Emory University. After the first visit to see the house, my husband John did a quick napkin sketch that we developed into an overall design to modernize the interior spaces. We fell in love with the property and the house’s small but gracious bones, its simple fluted trim, interior arches and built-in bookcases. It was clear that a thoughtful architect had been involved with its inception. But the house needed a full electrical overhaul to get up to current code requirements, plus it was in desperate need of a new kitchen and updated bathrooms. We purchased the house in 2008 and started a 6-month renovation. We did a subsequent renovation of the attic space in 2012, adding a guest bedroom, bathroom and a vaulted open living space. We re-landscaped the backyard, renovated the pool and built a new pool house in 2015. And there are always ongoing tweaks because nothing is ever ‘done’!
History of the house.
We think we are the fourth owners of the house. We purchased it from a retired pediatrician, and his wife, who raised their three children in a much larger house down the street and bought this house in 1988 as their retirement cottage. Not much had been done to the interior since the early 1960’s, but these owners added a pool and loved working in the garden during their 20 years here. It’s a long slender lot that borders the Druid Hills Golf Club. Our property sits close to the 14th hole and we sometimes hear the cracking sound of struck golf balls and the occasional cheer from happy golfers.
At the very front of the property we have a large, double-trunked ginkgo tree that legend says was one of several stolen from Emory University back in the 1960’s. At our closing, the seller gave us a letter from another elderly neighbor asking him to make sure the new owners did not cut down this ginkgo tree. Our first autumn in the house, our daughter painted a watercolor of the tree and its bright yellow leaves. She gave it to the seller when he came to visit us. People in the neighborhood have told us this is their favorite tree to watch in the fall with its dramatic color change from green to chartreuse to bright yellow. Our daughter used to climb the tree with her friends for a commanding view of our street.
The previous owner gave us an old, faint set of Clem Ford’s drawings of the house that were helpful in modernizing without losing the charm inherent to its original design. During our 2008 renovation, we restored a cased opening between the living room and den area that we’d seen in the original drawings but was closed off at some point. This improved the home’s flow and brought in much-needed light through the house.
I'd also talk about what your favorite rooms or pieces are - any special makers you sourced from?
The pool house is a favorite spot to eat dinner, read, and relax. It’s very private with a nice view, and there always seems to be a breeze off the golf course, no matter how hot it gets in Atlanta. We worked with local furniture designer Skylar Morgan on the built-in casework and large white oak table. Woodworker Kendrick Anderson’s black Windsor-style benches provide ample seating. Skylar and Kendrick are both wonderful craftsmen whom we often collaborate with on our commercial projects at Square Feet Studio. Lounge pieces from Janus et Cie and Restoration Hardware complete the outdoor seating.
What room (or outdoor area) do you most often hang out in, and why do you love it?
The upstairs living space is bright and airy, and this is where we gather to watch movies. We work at the teak table where there’s nice daylight from the band of windows facing the backyard. There are large comfortable sofas upholstered in an indoor-outdoor Perennials fabric that looks like linen but can take a lot of wear and tear. We love the big steel doors that we designed to open the kitchen and den up to the backyard. We fling these open when the weather is nice. In the winter, we like to sit by fireplace in the living room because it’s the coziest spot in the house.
Any pieces you picked up on travels or that were passed down through generations?
Our dining room table belonged to our parents from the early 1960’s, as did the teak table mentioned above. We love wallpaper, and there are eight different patterns throughout the house. A Marimekko paper with ginkgo leaves lives in our den, it reminds us of our beloved tree out front.