Musicians find their own rhythm with loft on Castleberry Hill tour

The scale of a loft offered Michael and Catherine Giel open space for their instruments, but they still had some unique requirements.

“We have a big grand piano. That was the first question in any place: Where is the piano going to go? We didn’t want to give up a dining room for a piano, which is what we had been doing in our last house,” said Catherine.

The couple spent two years searching for an intown Atlanta loft with a soundproof space for them to practice and work with opera singers. Finally, they found a two-bedroom loft with a first-floor garage they could turn into a music studio with their piano.

In the studio, a phoenix mural by Atlanta native Peter Ferrari connects with the city's rise from the ashes, their love of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" and their drawn-out search for intown living. Their home is on the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association's Oct. 22 loft tour.

“We consider it a rose-from-the-ashes property,” she said. “We had to fight for it.”


Residents: Michael and Catherine Giel. Michael is a high school orchestra teacher at Lakeside High School and conductor of the Capitol City Opera; Catherine is a commercial real estate professional for Colliers International and music director for the Capitol City Opera. Dogs, Apple and Eve; cats, Nora and Dora.

Location: Atlanta's Castleberry Hill

Size: 2,200 square feet, two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths

Year built/bought: 2002/2015

Architectural style: Modern, urban loft

Favorite architectural elements: Exposed brick and open beam ceilings

Renovations: They converted the first-floor garage into a studio and storage space, for about $25,000, thanks to savings on elements such as luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring from Tandus Centiva. "It looks really high-end, but it's fairly cost efficient," Catherine said. They remodeled the half-bath on the second floor with a new tile backsplash, vessel sink and vanity, mirror, light fixture and paint (Ralph Lauren Metallic in Oyster). The update cost about $2,000. "It was just plain before. There's nothing else in our house that's sort of plain," Catherine said.

Contractor: Willy Vega of Willy Vega Contracting & Home Repair

Interior design style: Modern

Favorite interior design elements: Interiors infused with instruments, including a Kawai grand piano, harpsichord, viola, violin, electric violin and egg shakers.

Favorite outdoor feature: The rooftop deck, which has a ping-pong table and views of downtown Atlanta.

Decor tip: Keep it simple. "We don't have a lot of storage and we hate clutter, so our surfaces are clean and free of knickknacks," Catherine said. "If it's in our home, then we must really love it."

Resources: Furniture from Z Gallerie, Ikea, Scott Antique Market, Fixtures from Lighting Loft. Rugs by NuLoom. Window blinds and shades by The Shade Store.