Artistic Grace in Olde Park
New construction with a Craftsman look gave this family the perfect design, both inside and out.
By Melissa Sprouse Browne Photos by Jay Browne
Finding the perfect home is a journey and, for some, it’s a long road filled with too many choices and indecision. But for Ashley, the perfect home was a vision she turned into reality with the help of her friend and designer from Verve, Christy Eden. The pathway to this perfect home was a series of steps taken purposefully toward the end result, fully realized in July when she and her family finally took up residence after a year of construction.
“I was talking to another designer from Verve, Stephanie, who told me about this new neighborhood,” said Ashley. “It was like a hidden treasure. It’s close in and is a gated community. The safety and privacy is a big deal for us.” Olde Park is located near Forest Drive, with approximately a dozen homes and homesites and offers a neighborhood pool as an amenity.
“Since I was leaving a house with a pool, having one in the neighborhood was a great option. I didn’t want to have to take care of it any more, but still be able to enjoy it with the boys,” she shared.
Coming from the Wales Garden/Shandon area, Ashley had fallen in love with the bungalow style that dominates those neighborhoods. A bungalow is usually an open floor plan maximized for efficiency and flow from room to room with little space wasted on hallways. The typical Shandon bungalow is a Craftsman-style house. “I wanted to mimic that look, but have it be new construction,” said Ashley. “It became more cost effective for us to build once we determined that the older homes I was drawn to would require a fair amount of renovation.”
Christy and Ashley designed the floor plan after looking at plans from the builder and deciding on modifications. “We looked at designs the builder used for other houses and tweaked this one to be exactly what I wanted and needed,” she explained. “I knew I didn’t want a bunch of rooms. I wanted it to feel like one open space and in the old house, we never went in the dining room and the living room.” The new house has a very open concept, with a large central living area that isn’t separated from the kitchen in any way. The use of French doors throughout and high ceilings envelopes you with true Southern charm.
As you move from space to space, the thread tying the elements together is art. As an art major for both her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Georgia, her love of artistic expression is clear in all her surroundings. She has several of her own original paintings interspersed with those of other artists whose work she finds interesting. “I love original artwork. I’ve been working on a collection. One of my favorites is Tim Trapolin, who did the boys’ portraits, the nudes in the master bathroom and the dancers in his painting entitled, ‘Keeping You on Your Toes’ in the sitting room. He’s from New Orleans and I adore him.”
Michael Clement, another favorite New Orleans artist of Ashley’s, focuses on handmade, decorative arts. She has several pairs of his lamps, bowls and candle sticks. “They’re even in the boys’ rooms and upstairs so the entire family can enjoy his unique work.”
Christy helped Ashley pick neutral fabrics for a clean palette. “The sitting room is her escape,” said Christy. “We’ve put decorating and fashion books in here, and it’s filled with all the things she loves. We tell out clients, buy what you love and you’ll always love it.” This room was started with a central piece – the mirrored desk. Several different lamp styles were auditioned and the ones Ashley ultimately chose fit perfectly. Even the light fixture on the ceiling is feminine and jeweled.
“It feels peaceful, it feels comfortable, yet there is a dressiness about it,” Ashley said. “I wanted just a little space for this study, and if I want to close if off in the future, I can. It’s a special area where my friends and I can sit and feel pretty. Everything in here is lovely and sparkles.”
As the house developed, the partners in design worked together to source items for the ideal look. “I’d see a picture in a magazine and say, ‘Christy, I like the way this looks. What can we do to make it look similar?’” With the smaller spaces in the home, Christy and Ashley worked together to make them livable and functioning. She has used mirrors in virtually every room, in all shapes, forms and sizes. Ashley has an affinity for mirrors, and likes the way light reflects on the different surfaces. “I just love mirrors. I think they are so pretty, so I wanted them to be prominently featured. Glass and mirrors to me are just so cheerful and take me to a happy place.”
The mirror and glass combination is used well in the master bath. “The glass door knobs, I love those,” Ashley said. Christy helped her find those special knobs and they give a vintage glass look without being the conventional faceted knob found in older bungalows.
An almost hidden gem in the open floorplan is the powder room. Abstract wallpaper surrounds you and is perfectly reflected by a floor to ceiling mirrored wall. Layered on top of the base mirror is a funky round mirror with bullet quartz crystals flanked by sconces on both sides. It’s almost one of those rooms that you have to be in to understand, as a photo will hardly do it justice.
The entry foyer leading up to the powder room is artistic in its own right. “We designed that wall to look like a pretty, trimmed out wall, with the goal of concealing the entrance to the powder room,” Ashley said. “Christy designed it and the flow makes it disappear. You notice the wall, but not the powder room door.
When creating the layout for the living room and kitchen, the family wanted it to be functional for everyone, while still having an aesthetic appeal. Christy wanted to make it comfortable and not easily soiled if someone were to put his or her feet on the sofa. Neutral colors reign supreme in this space as well, with fabric that’s treated and wearable. The dining room chairs are outdoor fabric and the rug is sea grass. Even with the durable choices for upholstery, there’s still a nice dimension to the fabric.
The dining room table is tucked away on the far side of the living room. “I wanted that to be available because we don’t use it all the time, but when we need it, it’s ready,” Ashley explained. On the kitchen side, you encounter marble countertops and an apron front sink with a pot filler. The layout blends the living area and kitchen with a natural combination of color and texture. Counter space is kept clean by the use of pantry doors to hide the various small appliances found in most kitchens.
The bedrooms are just as artistic and interesting as the rest of the home. For one of the boys, a motif of gray and black was used for a masculine feel. “We were working with a bed that was inherited from a grandmother. I actually bought the dresser that he liked and did the matching side table and Christy and I built the room around that,” Ashley said. Custom bedding was ordered with his monogram in gray and white because they didn’t want everything in pure black and white. “He deep sea fishes, so we found antique prints of fish and had those framed and mounted above the bed.”
The master bedroom is very calm. Michael Clement lamps are used here, which fit well with the inlaid dresser. “That dresser was one of the first things I wanted and then we did the bone mirror and found the king size bed with Christy’s help and guidance.” The other furniture pieces were purchased along the way and while it’s not a matching set, everything works together well.
Many of the pieces in the home could easily be relocated to other rooms with completely different configurations since they are all very compatible. Fitting the artwork with the hard and softscape elements has made this home truly unique.