While Atlanta has a rich history of traditional architecture and interiors, the city’s modern design movement is creating a buzz like a Frank Lloyd Wright wonder in Buckhead. That’s good news for Elayne DeLeo and Bernard McCoy, founders of Modern Atlanta’s annual “Design Is Human” Week (www.modern-atlanta.org), an event that celebrates modern design and lifestyles.
In its fifth year, “Design Is Human” showcases the full spectrum of modernity in Atlanta, from furniture to food, attracting a wider audience that includes not just local residents and design professionals, but also notable architects, filmmakers, product manufacturers and even tourists. “Thanks to Modern Atlanta, we have the opportunity to share our mutual passion for design and celebrate it with the local community,” says Russ Wheeler, president of Hansgrohe USA (www.hansgrohe-usa.com), whose North American headquarters is in Alpharetta.
The event not only illuminates the work of local firms such as TaC Studios (www.tacstudios.com) and Dencity (www.dencity.us), but also helps challenge some of the misconceptions about modern design. “The concept that a contemporary home is a white box depends on the furniture, interiors and thought that goes into it,” DeLeo says. “You can have a traditional home and modern furniture.”
|FOR A RECENT PROJECT IN ANSLEY PARK, furniture and interior designer Michael Habachy combined dimensional paper tile walls with a plush, custom-designed chaise lounge and a lace-like sculptural light fixture, all in the same shade of ivory. “Possibly the best way to warm up a modern space,” Habachy says, “is through layering.”
|TERRACOTTA PROPERTIES OFFERS A DESIGN SOLUTION for incorporating a flat-panel television, fireplace and multimedia storage in one space, using a dark-stained wood mantel to connect the individual elements. “Instead of the TV and fireplace reading as two competing elements, the mantle connects them so that they read as a cohesive and balanced unit, with room for extra seating tucked within,” says Luly Melarti, manager at TerraCotta Properties (www.terracottaproperties.com).
Turning the tide
Combining traditional with modern design is a concept that many homeowners are warming up to. Notice sleek, contemporary kitchens popping up in Craftsman, Colonial and other traditional homes? The phenomenon reflects a trend that is being seen nationwide. “For the first time since the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) began tracking annual design trends, traditional is no longer the most popular type of design,” according to a press release from the NKBA (www.nkba.org). “In both the kitchen and the bathroom, transitional is now the most common style, which is a blend of traditional and contemporary, typified by lines that are simpler than traditional, but a bit more elaborate than contemporary in order to create a modern classic look.”
Local design professionals attribute this shift in style preference to a combination of factors—from Atlanta’s increasingly diverse population—“As the city has grown and attracted people from all over the country, and in particular from other urban centers, a more contemporary and modern aesthetic has taken root,” says Luly Melarti, manager at TerraCotta Properties (www.terracottaproperties.com)—to changing values and lifestyles—“The recession has birthed a new appreciation for efficiency and thoughtfulness in all aspects of our lives, furniture included,” says Felipe Florez, owner of Direct Furniture (www.directfurnitureatlanta.com).
BJ Kerr, owner of Regents Renovation Company (www.regentsrenovation.com), a certified designer and installer of IKEA kitchen and bath systems, offers another interpretation: “A transitional design will probably be more lasting and appeal to a broader range of people,” he says. “If you have a transitional kitchen, buyers can still cater it to their particular taste by changing the hardware, paint and furniture, dressing it down to be more modern or dressing it up to be more traditional. It makes sense from a practical point of view.”
|THE RETRO MODERN LILY SOFA by Younger Furniture is a hot item at Direct Furniture in Atlanta. $1,245, directfurnitureatlanta.com
Get the look
Whether you’re remodeling or just refreshing your décor, modern design features can be incorporated at many levels. Here are some ideas from local design professionals:
• Use warm-colored woods to make the space feel comfortable and inviting. —West Architecture Studio (www.westarchitecture.com)
• Mix textures such as stainless steel and leather, and don’t be afraid to pair modern furniture with antiques for an eclectic look. —Julie Dewald, retail market manager at Room & Board’s Atlanta location (www.roomandboard.com)
• Use simple, clean lines. Make a bold statement by throwing in a piece that is totally unexpected such as a bright color in a neutral room. —Michael Habachy, furniture and interior designer at Habachy Designs (www.habachydesigns.com)
• Give traditional materials a modern twist, such as arranging marble tile in a vertical stack pattern like glass tile applications. —Luly Melarti, manager at TerraCotta Properties (www.terracottaproperties.com)
• For a modern-style kitchen, pair slab-door-style cabinetry in dark walnut with euro-rail hardware and black granite countertops. —Janice Howell, co-owner of MODA Floors & Interiors (www.modafloorsandinteriors.com)
• Replace a bulky tub and shower curtain with a sleek glass shower enclosure, which can make a small bath feel more open and more modern. —BJ Kerr, owner of Regents Renovation Company (www.regentsrenovation.com)
|THIS MODERN INTERIOR, which includes an EPA-certified, low-emissions wood-burning stove and Energy Star windows that boost home energy efficiency, is on the 2012 Modern Atlanta Tour of Homes.
The way we live
The modern design movement has invigorated the local design community, attracting national attention and ushering in a new era of growth and experimentation in a largely traditional landscape. Homeowners, too, are finding that modern design not only offers looks, but also meets the needs of today’s lifestyles. So don’t be surprised if Atlanta continues to turn a few heads.
|INCLUDED ON THE 2012 MODERN ATLANTA TOUR OF HOMES is a home by Dencity LLC and Cablik Enterprises (www.cablikenterprises.com) that blends modern style with eco-friendly design. A slatted vertical panel made with stained Georgia cypress adds architectural interest using local materials, while all the windows are protected from the sun by the overhang of the home’s long horizontal eaves.
2012 Modern Atlanta Home Tour
Pre-tour bonus in Athens
10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Fri., June 8
Tour launch party and design exhibition
Terminus building, 4th floor
3280 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
Sat.-Sun., June 9-10
10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tickets are $35 and include admission to launch party and design exhibition, Athens pre-tour bonus, both days of the Atlanta tour and a program guide with information on each stop of the tour and events throughout Modern Atlanta’s “Design Is Human” Week. Visit www.modern-atlanta.org for more information.
ONE OF ROOM & BOARD’S best-selling items is the Marcel armchair, which looks like a traditional wing chair with simpler curves, a higher back and lower seat. It is available in colors such as gold, blossom, teal and apple.