Private Quarters: Athens chef and restaurateur Hugh Acheson

The kitchen was missing when chef and restaurateur Hugh Acheson and his wife, Mary Koon, purchased a Victorian home on a tree-lined street in Athens.

In fact, there were no walls in the house, which dates to the early 1900s and was a skeleton of its former self. The home had been vacant for years, but the seller had meticulously saved doors, mantles, tile, bead board and other elements.

"A lot of things were in very organized piles, after a thorough dismantling," Acheson said.

Working with an Athens contractor, the couple recycled original items and filled the home with furniture passed down from family and friends, creating an easygoing atmosphere that welcomes a little bit of clutter.

"I think it shows that we're comfortable," Koon said.

Acheson added: "But not opulent at all."


Residents: Chef and restaurateur Hugh Acheson (Five & Ten and the National in Athens and Empire State South in Atlanta), his wife Mary Koon (editor at the Georgia Museum of Art), and their daughters, 8-year-old Clementine and 10-year-old Beatrice.

Location: Athens

Size: About 2,900 square feet, three bedrooms, three baths

Year built: Early 1900s

Year bought: 2008

Contractor: Cashin Construction

Renovations: The biggest changes were transforming the attic into a second floor for the girls' bedroom and playroom, and converting the screened porch to expand living space. They added a deck, too. The kitchen opens to the rest of the home, with honed black granite countertops, handmade Talavera tile from Mexico and an island where the kids do homework and Acheson works. Other details include transoms and the original wavy glass.

Architectural style: Victorian

Interior design style: The couple uses words like "shabby" and "flea market." Acheson's description: nouveau middle class.

Interior designers: Textile designer Clay McLaurin and Susan Hable Smith, owner of textile company Hable Construction, are what Koon calls her "frienderators."

Favorite interior design feature: The bold color palette. "I just love color, and I'm really not afraid of it," Koon said. She used milano red paint (Benjamin Moore) from the family/TV room in a nook with shelves on the other side of the house, to tie the spaces together. The same hue used in the upstairs hallway — Gullah blue (Sherwin-Williams) — is also used on the kitchen ceiling.

Food-related accessories: The kitchen has Viking appliances, but no foodie tech gadgets. "Give me a cast-iron pan and a blender and we can make dinner," Acheson said. His office has framed items such as "Ode to Pork" by Atlanta poet Kevin Young and the original cover concept (by Hable Smith) for his cookbook, "A New Turn in the South." His 2012 James Beard Award medallions — for the cookbook and co-winner for best chef, Southeast — hang from built-in bookshelves. "I just got some nails and put them there. It worked," he said.

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