7 design ideas from fall home tours

Interior designer Darden Mock is intent on carrying on her Ansley Park home’s architectural tradition.

Each owner of the 1928 home, by architect Frances Palmer Smith, who also designed Atlanta’s Cathedral of St. Philip, has made elegant enhancements, said Mock, owner of Darden Design Group (formerly Darden Straus Designs). For example, a previous owner improved how the home opened up to backyard, offering interior views of both the Atlanta skyline and the stone outdoor fireplace.

“The four previous homeowners have all made significant contributions to the home,” she said.

The house joins century-old properties, new modern residences and units in Ponce City Market and at Savannah College of Art and Design on this fall’s Atlanta home tours, which offer a bounty of design ideas.

1. Be unconventional.

A 1920 Craftsman bungalow on the Candler Park Tour of Homes didn’t have a basement until recently. Scott Gross and Jennifer Wamsley added a basement after moving into the 1,750-square-foot home during 2012, amid other updates.

“When we purchased the house it had a dirt crawl space. We excavated in the backyard and drove the Bobcat under the house,” Gross said. “It was a little unconventional to dig out, oh, 120 years of clay from underneath an existing house, but we went ahead and did it.”

The unfinished basement, which has 7-foot ceilings, houses the furnace and hot water tank and provides storage space. They also uncovered original windows, fireplaces and hardwood floors to resuscitate the trashed three-bedroom, one-bath home, which now has a new front porch and a pool.

2. Give modern a chance.

“One thing that’s kind of neat about the Old Fourth Ward is it seems like they embrace a lot of different styles,” said Epic Development’s Jim LaVallee. “A lot of people want some version of that modern look.”

One of Epic’s modern homes is on Fall in the Fourth Tour of Homes on Sept. 14. Built on a 27-foot-wide lot, the home’s exterior has oversized James Hardie fiber cement panels and siding, a butterfly roof and custom metal work.

Homeowner Anna Mitchell originally was set on buying a Craftsman-style home with a front porch. “Then we happened to see this listing online. We thought, this is really interesting,” she said.

From outside, the modern home looked skinny. But the tall ceilings and layout with no walls between the living room, dining area and kitchen made the home appear bigger than she expected. She and her husband, Ben, purchased the home and selected neutral and gray paint colors, and white subway tile and countertops for the kitchen that keep with the contemporary look.

3. Do traditional with a twist.

Interior designer Gabriela Eisenhart’s townhome on the Sept. 28 Candler Park Tour of Homes as having a modern, elegant flair with a splash of vintage traditional elements. While the three-story townhome may have been an unconventional choice for a couple with two kids, now 2 and 3, she’s brought in sentimental family pieces.

Wallpaper she inherited from husband Forry’s family, who owned Eisenhart Wallcoverings, is used for the backing of built-in bookcases in the living room, as an accent wall in the dining room and for an art installation.

4. Go with a larger scale.

When a home has ceilings that are 10 feet or greater, don’t let your artwork shrink in the space. In Mock’s home in Ansley Park, a large-scale piece of art adds a “blast of color” in the entryway, joining a long runner with vibrant colors. “I think that’s what people get excited about,” she said. “Then they go, ‘Wow, I would not have expected that.’”

5. Find furniture in unexpected places.

Allison and Rob Pugh moved into Old Fourth Ward in 2012, buying a new Craftsman-style bungalow after putting in two offers.

“This time fortunately we got it,” Allison Pugh said. “We had loved it obviously enough to put in a bid the first time, but by the time we saw it the second time, we knew it was the right house for us.”

The couple liked how the three-bedroom, two-bath home – built in 2011 and one of the few new homes in their section of Old Fourth Ward - fit in from the front exterior and interior details such as moldings and coffered ceilings. On their honeymoon to Bali, they purchased teak furniture, some of which is made from old boats, for their porch, dining room and living room.

“A lot of these are either built by furniture craftsman or recovered relics that have been sort of repurposed,” she said.

6. Create an outdoor focal point.

Ansley Park’s 17th Tour of Homes, on Oct. 18-19, features eight homes and lofts that reflect the diverse styles in the historic Atlanta neighborhood. For example, a three-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home built in 1929 on the Ansley Park Tour of Home has been renovated to its current Mediterranean style with a central courtyard. The rooms in the U-shape layout open to the courtyard and pool, bringing in fresh air and allowing homeowners Claudia and Rex Patton to hear the fountain at night. The home, which overlooks Ansley Golf Course, also has a yoga room, music room and contemporary artwork. “Our home really exemplifies eclectic Ansley,” she said.

7. Embrace to the past.

A Craftsman bungalow on the Candler Park Tour of Homes was built in 1910, but at one point was turned into a duplex. “They had taken this glorious gorgeous hallway and put a partition up,” said homeowner Mary Middlemas.

The three-bedroom, two-bath home had been renovated by the previous owner, and some of Middlemas’ favorite features are the picture railing, cast iron hallway returns and a clawfoot tub. The front porch also wraps around to one side of the home, which reminds Middlemas of a scene from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” To enhance the outdoors, the homeowners created a cottage-style garden out of a lot that was filled with weeds and used old pieces of sidewalk to terrace the yard.

“You forget sometimes how much work and love you put into a place,” Middlemas said. “It’s lovely to have people appreciate it and know it.”

If You Go

Fall in the Fourth Tour of Homes

When: Noon-5 p.m., Sept. 14

Cost: $20

Info: fallinthe4thward.com

Candler Park Tour of Homes

When: Noon-6 p.m., Sept. 28

Cost: Free

Info: fallfest.candlerpark.org

Ansley Park Tour of Homes

When: Noon-5 p.m., Oct. 18-19

Cost: $20

Info: ansleytourofhomes.com/tickets