Modern design in Atlanta

modern-furniture interior

Whether remodeling or redecorating, Atlanta homeowners increasingly are turning to modern design for a fresh new look. Ready for your own modern makeover? Turn the page for ideas, tips and resources.

Defined design
If you have avoided decorating with “modern” themes in the past because the word evoked pictures of cold, sterile homes devoid of personality, take another look! Today’s modern style is colorful, simple and every bit as comfortable to live in as any other design theme. “To me, modern design is all about creating serene spaces by utilizing clean lines and functional forms,” says Alpharetta-based interior designer Pipa Bradbury of Pipa Bradbury Design, “These spaces then become backdrops for showcasing unique art.”

Modern design dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the style has evolved throughout the years. As modern design gained popularity, some people even viewed the style as rebellious. “‘Modernism’ was a rejection of very ornate design styles that felt very layered, such as Gothic, Renaissance and Victorian looks,” says Atlanta interior designer Rachel Greathouse of Rachel Greathouse Design, “Now, I think modern design maintains its roots, which embrace minimalism, lack of clutter, use of metals and woods and bold primary colors for accents, with black, white and neutrals for large objects and furniture. It evolves with the times, incorporating pop culture and technology to some level, but I believe it stays true to its style.”

The modern South
While many view the South as a place where traditional design reigns, modern design has grown increasingly popular, especially as Atlanta has become a melting pot for such a great variety of cultures and ideas. “I’m seeing more and more modern projects and am working with more clients who want ‘simple and clean’ looks for their spaces,” says Ann Wisniewski of AJW Designs, Modern style is especially popular with young professionals living in downtown lofts and condos. “You see modern design most often in the loft-style city living spaces because it lends itself to open spaces with architectural interest,” Greathouse says.

Single-family homes can be built using modern style, but transitioning a typical Atlanta home to a modern design can be tricky. “Atlanta homes are generally compartmentalized spaces filled with crown molding, chair rails, trim, paneled walls, coffered ceilings, etc.,” says Zach Azpeitia of Pineapple House Interior Design, “Creating modern sensibilities in older southern residences generally means mixing styles and periods. However, you can certainly create a modern look with the right furniture pieces and placement.”

Important elements
Whether you want to give your entire home a modern makeover or you just want to add some ultramodern touches, there are certain elements you can use to achieve a new look. Remember, modern design does not have to be cold and stark. “Most homeowners who love modern design also want their space to be warm and inviting,” says Katie Insogna of Rubicon Construction, “Fortunately, a streamlined, modern interior can also be luxurious and welcoming, layered with classic elements full of texture and interest.”

Here are some suggestions for achieving a modern look in your home:
• Modern rooms highlight space, simplicity and function. They are usually open planned, with furniture on legs to create open space around each piece
• Try using metal, concrete, leather, glass and acrylic materials for furniture and accessories. Lacquered and reflective materials also are popular.
• A lot of white and black mixed with bright pops of color will create a modern feel.
• Modern furniture pieces are often sleek and lower in profile.
• Look for state-of-the art pieces, such as a vent-less fireplace instead of a wood-burning one.
• Unique light fixtures can be used as focal points in a modern room.
• Large pieces of artwork are very important in modern design. Abstract art is most popular.

In general, choose and arrange every element in the room with clean lines and simplicity in mind. When it comes to modern design, less is more!

In the Mix

Photos courtesy of Sandra Valenzuela, Savaza Photography

Alpharetta-based interior designer Pipa Bradbury, of Pipa Bradbury Design,, designed this Buckhead home and considers it her favorite modern residential space. The home represents a creative merging of modern design with international flair. “I mixed modern and Italian contemporary furniture with some retro items, many of which were collected by the clients during their years of living in different countries,” Bradbury says.

Throughout the home, unique textured geometric patterns contrast with a monochromatic palette, all within the clean, open spaces that are so important to a modern space. Pops of color in rugs, pillows, fabrics and abstract artwork add personality and interest throughout the home. To make the look even edgier, Bradbury used rudimentary shapes of simple forms. “I think this project is a great example of Atlanta modernism,” she says. “The southern architecture provides a warm and beautiful backdrop to the modern and contemporary pieces. The overall effect is very inviting and luxurious – very southern!”

Artistic Touch
Photos courtesy of Nandina Home & Design

Interior designer John Ishmael, owner of Nandina Home & Design,, in Atlanta, sees modern design in Atlanta as a bit of a hodgepodge. “I believe modern design lives in Atlanta in many different variations, like rustic modern, European modern and industrial modern as well,” Ishmael says.
The design of this Inman Park loft was inspired in part by the variety of art that the homeowner already had. “We mixed the client’s vast art collection with a clean-lined upholstered sofa, several black-leather-and-chrome chairs, a gray Womb chair and a ghost chair, which are all strong examples of ‘modern’ furniture,” Ishmael says. The dark colors with bright accents, along with a variety of modern-themed light fixtures, all combine to turn this space into a perfect example of a modern Atlanta loft.

Sleek Sophistication
Photos courtesy of Haigwood Studios

Modern design can be a theme throughout an entire home, or it can be incorporated as part of a remodel. This recently completed kitchen and bath project by Decatur-based Rubicon Construction,, with cabinetry and design by Schuon Kitchens & Baths, is a great example of how modern design can give a home a truly unique look. Katie Insogna, owner of the company, loves the combination of elements they used in the project.

“The fusion of classic lines with modern cleanliness is beautiful,” Insogna says. “We were able to mix textures and materials to give it a softer, lived-in look that the homeowners adored.” Some of the things that contribute to the ultramodern feel of the space are the contrast of dark and light materials; the combination of metal, wood and stone on both the fixtures and the furniture; and, most of all, the simple, clean lines that are used throughout the rooms.

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