This Crisp Georgia Home Is A Blank Canvas For Powerful Art


large salon with curved white...

A sweeping Stephen Shon canvas commands homeowner Christen Schmidt’s studio. Christophe Delcourt for Collection Particulière furnishings surround the Lulu and Georgia coffee table, which is accented by a Matthew Fisher bowl from Wareco. The Visual Comfort & Co. easel light displays a Windell Dobson abstract.

Entryway with white walls, floating...

Natural light floods the foyer through a Forge Fine Steel entry door reflected in the RH metal floating mirror. Eichholtz’s Giorgina table lamps and Umé Studio bowls rest atop the Simon Johns solid ash Ledge console designed to reference shale formations.

Windowed sitting area with a...

Natasha Baradaran’s Nest swivel chairs from R Hughes—dressed in Marvic Textiles’ Safari Mahogany velvet from Ainsworth-Noah—invite conversation in the breakfast room. Tom Faulkner’s Lily coffee table joins a Century Furniture side table beneath the custom Trueing chandelier.

Custom built-in wine storage situated...

Conceived by designer Shawn Amtower and fabricated by Stile Atlanta, the illuminated white oak-and-glass wine display ensures the dining room is always entertaining ready. Topped with a Ryan Studio velvet pillow, a CB2 chair blends with red oak floors refinished by Wesley Custom Flooring.

Living room with barrel-vaulted ceiling,...

Jiun Ho swivel chairs and an Una Malan sofa supply ample seating in the family room. A chandelier by Lost Profile suspends above a custom white oak coffee table by Grey. The channeled plaster fireplace by artisan Jose Escandon and a Todd Murphy artwork add intrigue.

home office with horizontal paneled...

A custom Laskasas desk from Willow & Albert Home and an RH chair ground the office. The Jonathan Browning Studios sconce and Joel Shapiro print, both from R Hughes, brighten horizontal paneling coated with Sherwin-Williams’ Black Magic.

Dining room with geode-inspired chandelier,...

CB2’s Foley dining chairs surround a custom travertine-and-oak table by Grey. Coup D’Etat’s Aquitaine chandelier from R Hughes and Stickbulb sconces from Switch Modern provide both art and light. A mixed-media piece by Tracy Sharp appears in the metal-framed RH mirror.

modern bedroom with channeled upholstered...

In the primary bedroom, Lost Profile’s Continuum 900 sconce from Wareco and an Articolo Studios pendant light the bed and nightstand, both by Alice Lane Home. RH sateen sheets create a crisp finish.

Mudroom with black cabinetry, brass...

The mudroom showcases custom cabinetry by Stile Atlanta. Natasha Baradaran’s Sempione bench, upholstered in Holland & Sherry velvet, sits beneath a Jeffrey Wilcox Paclipan sculpture from Jennifer Balcos Gallery.

There’s a telltale minimalism to Don and Christen Schmidt’s home in Marietta, Georgia, evident in its monochromatic palette and streamlined millwork. But depth is embedded in every quiet detail and custom touch—and that much was by design. For designer Shawn Amtower, restraint with color is never dull. It’s daring. 

In the case of this project, Amtower’s preferred palette provided an intriguing bonus: becoming the perfect canvas for fine art and art-like flourishes. This theme is revealed right from the foyer, where an avant-garde, floating ash console by Canadian designer Simon Johns perches above the creamy millwork and refinished red oak floors.

“It was clear we needed more light in this house,” says Christen of the design impetus, noting how she and Don spend much of their time at a beachfront property along the Florida Panhandle. “I noticed how light and airy it is at the beach, so coming back here seemed dark by comparison.”

For the renovation, they immediately enlisted Amtower, a designer reputed for environments that are at once calming and clean-lined, livable and luxurious. “Aesthetics are important to me,” reveals Christen, a multifaceted creative currently painting with acrylics and experimenting with plaster. “I knew Shawn would get us out of our comfort zone and into a design we really wanted—something refined, yet welcoming.”

Amtower suggested a more modernized look, plus plenty of spaces to entertain and a dynamic studio for Christen’s artistic pursuits. The designer began by overhauling the home’s envelope, recruiting general contractor Mike Hammersmith to collaborate on the renovation. “It was amazing to watch Shawn and Mike work together to achieve such remarkable features,” Christen recounts. “They both had a strong creative vision and were always pushing each other toward something better.” 

Consider the family room, whose arched fireplace opening is tucked within a characterful component: a fluted plaster mantel Hammersmith had hand-molded by a local artisan. “That’s an art piece in itself,” he expresses. To complement this feature, project manager Nathan Young suggested swapping the room’s prior pitched ceiling for the current barrel-vaulted version, which now converses harmoniously with the half-curve doorways introduced off the living and dining areas. “We wanted to keep the effect cozy, unexpected and modern,” Hammersmith notes. “Carrying those shapes all the way through helped us hit those marks beautifully.” 

Amtower enhanced these details using her go-to base of black, white and ivory—a scheme the Schmidts approved unreservedly. “I don’t do well with muddy colors, where everything’s the same value, but a different hue,” the designer explains. “It’s the neatness of a stark contrast that makes everything feel right to my eye.” 

Organic elements—like custom white oak cabinetry and heavy brass hardware—soften the monochromatic look. Added warmth comes from pillows and upholstery in rich, coppery hues. Textured fabrics such as bouclé, velvet and fur further animate the design, especially when used on furnishings with a sculptural feel. For lighting, that led to a chain-link chandelier in the breakfast room, crystal-embellished fixtures in the living and dining areas, and a sconce above the primary bed that doubles as a wall sculpture.

Fine art was an aspect Amtower advised on actively, taking her clients to local galleries to discover works they connect with. Throughout the house, the diverse collection complements Christen’s tastes as both an aesthete and an artist. A phantasmal figure by the late Todd Murphy, for instance, sparks conversation in the family room. Meanwhile, nodding to the couple’s love of music, the dining room showcases a striking piece by artist Michael David: an obsidian-and-silicone-coated piano lid that once belonged to Nina Simone. To balance the room, the designer placed a dynamic Tracy Sharp abstract diagonally across from it. 

Art proved equally important in Christen’s studio: a refined, lounge-like space that could do a convincing impression of a Parisian atelier. “I was initially hesitant to put work by another artist in such a functional area,” the homeowner says of the Stephen Shon canvas mingling with curvaceous custom furnishings. “But I gather a lot of inspiration from that piece; it sets the mood for what this space celebrates—art, fashion, architecture.”

Reflecting on a truly seamless design process, Christen shares: “I think the most important part of taking on a project of this scope is to work with someone you trust 100 percent. Don and I are particular people, but we had complete trust in Shawn because we knew she would never leave a room anything less than perfection.”