Creating a home that’s classically rooted, yet supports the contemporary lives of those who dwell within, comes down to more than stock ideas. Often, it’s about eccentricities, unexpected touches and, at times, a grace note that doesn’t seem like it would go, yet makes the whole composition. For an energetic family constructing a tailored abode in a historic Atlanta neighborhood, it was important that their new home not only harmonize with its surroundings but enhance them.
That challenge was music to architect Peter Block’s ears. Carefully considering the context of the neighboring houses, he decided upon an English Tudor-inspired discipline, complete with a half-timbered, steeply pitched roof. Modernized with a wash of white paint, Block’s classic gestures thread all the way from the architectural envelope to the manicured grounds updated by landscape architect Richard Anderson—adorned with appropriately English climbing roses and clipped boxwood hedges. “His vocabulary and syntax within the plant palettes and how they’re put together is remarkable,” Block says.
Quite unlike a Tudor, however, the interior rooms are flooded with natural light. Guests enter the house through the arched front door into an airy living room, rather than a formal foyer. Varied ceiling heights throughout impart a telltale sense of rhythm, while millwork moments such as oak pocket doors, curved openings and charming interior windows help break down its spaces into a more intimate scale.
“Although separated by walls, there are opportunities to peek between spaces, such as the little pivoting iron window connecting the stair hall and keeping room,” interior designer Anna Booth explains. In a similar way, placing exterior windows on two sides of nearly every room brought luminosity to the home’s coved moldings, mineral-painted walls and hand-textured tilework. “It’s a high level of finishing, without an ounce of pretension,” she notes.
While the designer already knew her clients socially, Booth was personally recommended to the project by Block, and the two enjoyed a great level of mutual respect throughout every stage. “There was a lot of back-and-forth interaction,” the architect says. “And that’s what builds the richness of a project.” While joie de vivre was paramount for the couple, with multiple young sons, they were mindful that their busy family life could be hectic at times, so Booth and Block delivered a calming retreat with a floor plan meant to foster family unison. “It’s lively and comfortable, but quietly elegant at the same time,” the architect notes.
Intuitive and free-flowing, Block’s layout is not without a few surprises. Opposite the main living space—itself equipped with a baby grand piano—is a room dedicated entirely to the enjoyment of music. The home’s defining space makes an impression of any elegant sitting room—and that decision was intentional. Block wanted it to be “a beautiful room that you just happen to play music in.” Whether practicing instruments or listening to records, “Our clients are very musically oriented; it’s their favorite pastime,” the architect comments.
Booth, meanwhile, anchored this special space using a quartet of slipper chairs encircling an upholstered ottoman—a seating group intended to encourage musical collaboration. The chairs’ upright, armless style makes it easy to accommodate an instrument. Even the Caleb Mahoney canvas mounted above the fireplace was selected for its lyrical qualities: “The brushstrokes are almost like music notes,” the designer shares.
As for fixed surfaces, Booth and Block agreed upon selections of authentic materials—from rift-sawn white oak floors to Lace White marble countertops—destined to improve over time. These elements became the springboard for furnishings Booth placed to subtly enhance the serene palette. “Their forms are very simple,” the designer describes. In the living room, for example, a clean-lined, boxy sofa boasts prominent stitching along its edges, while the backs of the dining room’s sleek chairs feature pin-tucked pleats. Teamed with a smattering of characterful antiques, these choices bring balance to the home’s restrained countenance. Adds Booth: “When you incorporate these almost dressmaker-like details, it elevates a room; they are what make a home feel bespoke.”
So, too, does such thoughtfulness enhance the home’s sense of intimacy. From the sculptural plaster fireplace in the living room, to the carved reclaimed door in the music room, to the screened back porch contained within a faceted turret, graceful design decisions are what give this family abode its unique melody. All compositions considered, it’s a house in perfect harmony.