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Giffin House

Date published: January 01 2018

Atlanta, Georgia

Click here to visit Beth Webb Website >>

Simplicity coupled with comfort was key when Beth Webb designed this Atlanta home with the help of the Emily Giffin

When a married couple first set eyes on a 10,000 square foot house, set in ten acres of gardens in the affluent Buckhead region of Atlanta, Georgia, they had a feeling it would become their ‘forever home’.

The pair had a young family, along with the many concerns stemming from day to day life associated with that, to consider when searching for a new place to live. The 1920s building they
found was therefore always intended to be a ‘lived in’ home, for both them and their small children. So the new home was to be entirely refurbished to make it child friendly.

The couple already knew they were after a historic property in the region, and had already viewed another property designed by famed American architect Philip Trammell Shutze before this one. Ultimately though, the alternative to purchasing this particular property was to build from scratch, which the pair knew was not for them.

The wife, Emily Giffin - who is the author of seven New York Times best sellers - was very involved in the project from beginning to end. Her career and style of working enabled this somewhat, as being a writer, she usually works from home. However, her husband also works from an office at home, so the house is a beehive of activity both day and night, with three very active small children around for much of the time. The pair are also active philanthropically and so have large gatherings on a regular basis, which the design of the new home would certainly need to accommodate. In among the home’s lush gardens is also a swimming pool, which makes this type of entertaining even more of a joy.

Designer Beth Webb says that the style of the space the family ended up with is decidedly more transitional than traditional, which was always the intent. She explains that the previous owners were quite traditional themselves, especially when it came to the interiors, which were fashioned in an English Country style. Although such an approach was warm and welcoming, Beth thought it was too dark for her clients. Emily decided she wanted a lighter, fresher palette with a more fashion-forward approach as well as an eclectic mix in the furnishings and art, Beth explains.

To achieve this, the designer kept in mind that simplicity is key, no matter what the stylistic bent of the client you are working for is. Quoting American novelist Edith Wharton, that ‘supreme excellence is simplicity,’ Beth tried hard to keep her work well edited. The house had perfect proportions and so she kept the interior design elegant yet comfortable.

Perhaps it was this simplicity that made the project such an enjoyable - even easy - one for Beth and her team. She confesses that often a project can throw up a host of challenges, but that in this instance, thanks largely to an amazing client and a great builder, but also a brilliant architect for the renovation in the form of D. Stanley Dixon, the project was seamless.

Another aspect of the task that gave Beth a head start was Emily’s willingness to research the features for the home online - and often in the wee small hours too. Beth said she often found emails at all times of the night suggesting items to purchase for the emerging new home. The pair even visited nearby residential and contract furnishing design centre ADAC, also in Buckhead, along with other local retailers, to get a real feel for items they were considering furnishing the home with. Emily also sought Beth’s advice about pieces of art for the home, wanting to know what to put in her home, and where to source it.

It was an approach like this that Beth says gives her the inspiration to continue, a mission statement if you like. Emily and Beth would go on to search for art for the home together, meeting up at the end of a trip to compare notes. But Beth says that, at the end of the day, she can only be as good as her clients allow her to be. Luckily, in this case, that was very good indeed.

Photographer: Emily Followill

Designer: Beth Webb

Author: Jake Kennedy

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