Spring home tour season begins in metro Atlanta

Like spring flowers, home and garden tours pop up across metro Atlanta this time of year. It’s an annual tradition for some homeowners to open their homes to folks who love seeing how other people have renovated and decorated their residences.

This year, tours span from intown Atlanta neighborhoods such as Inman Park, Druid Hills and Kirkwood to outside the Perimeter and beyond.

“People have their own collections and their own stories about how they ended up in these homes,” said Chris Lambert, whose 1836 home is on the Madison in May tour. “As a homeowner, I would say that I have found it to be a real ego trip because people are so nice when they come in. I’ll be cussing myself a day or two ahead of time trying to get everything ready in the house, then when you open the doors and people come in and they’re so nice and they seem to be appreciative.”

Inman Park 2014 Tour of Homes

For its 43rd year, the tour on April 25-27 (http://inmanparkfestival.org/) features new and renovated lofts, townhomes and single-family homes (see this week’s Private Quarters). Judi Jacobs and Morgan Shallcross’ Arts and Crafts-style house, built in 1910, has 12-foot ceilings downstairs and original pocket doors. The home has its mysteries, too. There’s an alcove that’s about 5 or 6 feet wide, separating it from the living room and the front of the house.

“We can’t figure out what the purpose of this dividing wall is,” Shallcross said. “Every time somebody comes over, we ask. Nobody knows what it is.”

Atlanta Symphony Associates Decorators’ Show House & Gardens

The 44th annual event (www.decoratorsshowhouse.org/) has taken over Palazzo Rosa, on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, with 25 designers putting their touches on the home, known as the Pink Palace. It’s the third year the legendary Atlanta home, designed by Philip Shutze, Neel Reid and Hal Hentz, has been used as the show house, and the theme is a retrospective of design. The home, built in 1926, has perfectly executed symmetrical Italian design, said Brooke Brantley Merrill, the 2014 Decorators’ Show House chair and an interior designer.

“It’s inspiring to have all the history there. It sparks your creativity,” said Atlanta designer Traci Rhoads.

Visitors from April 26-May 18 will find original items including murals in the dining room, which inspired interior designer Melanie Turner. The murals evoke an idealized view of Venice in the romantic room, which mixes light chairs and silk fabrics with the dark framed murals, and classical minimalist design with Italian styles, she said.

“I really feel for a show house, or a house in general, that you should cater to your emotional needs. If you walk into a room and it does not move you, the room is a failure,” Turner said.

Druid Hills Tour of Homes and Garden Tour

The oldest tour of homes in the city is in its 46th year, and most of the homes built from the 1910s to 1930s on this year’s tour show how the extensive renovations preserve the architecture that defines Druid Hills. The tour (http://druidhillstour.org/) runs May 2-4.

“People not only get to see the neighborhood and the history of the neighborhood and the beauty of it,” said Ryan Graham, chairman of the Druid Hills Tour of Homes Committee. “They also see the history of these homes.”

In Claudia Keenan’s cottage dating to the late 1920s, the previous owners were required to keep the front facade the same in the renovation, but expanded the back. The Keenans added a pool and outdoor room with a stone fireplace in 2013.

“What I really, really love most about the house is that it contains furniture and furnishings, many of which have been in the family for more than a century,” Keenan said.

Franklin and Heather Johnson’s home was renovated in six weeks by an HGTV crew last year and retained original crown molding, hardwoods, plaster walls and arches, but rooms such as the cramped kitchen became more functional. “The kitchen was probably our biggest area of concern,” Heather said, “so we had to completely gut the kitchen down to the studs.”

12th Annual Kirkwood Spring Fling and Tour of Homes

Kirkwood’s eclectic lineup of homes for the May 17 tour (www.kirkwoodfling.com/) includes a modern remodel of a 1940s home. About 1,600 square feet was added to the home, originally about 1,000 square feet, to create five bedrooms and three bathrooms for a family of four. Working with architect Joe Alcock of Rutledge Alcock and Ted Baltrusaitis of Century Craft Homes, they pushed out the back of the house to add a sunken living room.

“We definitely wanted something that was modern, but fit into the neighborhood,” said homeowner Jennifer Smith.

‘Through the Garden Gate’ Tour

Cobb County Master Gardener volunteers seek to educate people during its annual event (www.cobbmastergardeners.com/), on May 10. Each garden has its own characteristics, but the focus is on telling guests, “Here’s what you can create in your yard,” said homeowner and master gardener Grady McWhorter. Some gardens are on hillsides and wooded areas, while others have gazebos and unusual features such as one home’s interpretation of Stonehenge.

McWhorter bought his home 10 years ago, dealing with challenges such as water drainage issues, sunlight and soil conditions. His favorite feature is his water garden, which has ponds, waterfalls and a water wheel.

Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour

Eleven Atlantans’ gardens are in the limelight for the 30th anniversary of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s tour on May 10-11 (www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org/). From a contemporary home on a wooded property to internationally recognized garden designer Ryan Gainey’s garden, the properties show the variety in the city. A Buckhead estate’s gardens on 5 acres have three ponds, a 10-foot waterfall, fountains, a rose and vegetable garden, and a perennial garden with a greenhouse and butterfly house.

“You think you’ve gone to the mountains of North Carolina,” said tour chair Sandy Kellam.

Greater Decatur Garden Tour

The 26th annual event (http://decaturgardentour.com/) features eight private and three public gardens on April 26-27.

“You get to see a lot of different elements by doing a tour of homes that you wouldn’t normally get to see,” said Chris Fichtel, whose his firm, Simmons, Fouts and Fichtel, is the presenting sponsor.

His gardens at RoseHill will be on the tour, where guests will see four water features, including an Italianate fountain, bog pond and bottle fountain with glass by Kristen Malone.

Madison in May

For the tour (www.mmcc-arts.org/), which runs May 1-3, private homes on the self-guided tour include antebellum homes and farmhouse-style properties and gardens, plus five churches and four house museums.

Lambert’s Hilltop, a Plantation Plain-style home with a Greek revival portico, features 12-foot ceilings, six fireplaces and 20-by-20 rooms, along with antiques and heirloom pieces. A slant top desk, corner cupboard, and a chest and mirror in the dining room were there when her husband was growing up at Hilltop. “I’m so flattered that they seem to enjoy my house,” she said.

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