You are here

Before and After: Big Update for a Little Ranch House

An Atlanta designer leads her home out of its 1950s confines and into the new world of family living

Written by Sally Finder Weepie
  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Imagine the possibilities. An interior designer buys a little ranch house in Atlanta and sets about shaping it into a home for herself, her new husband, and their kiddos to come. Or maybe don’t imagine. All those possibilities can make you feel hopelessly lost in a labyrinth of furniture and fabric samples.

    Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill
    Produced by Lisa Mowry

    Architect: William B. Litchfield, William B. Litchfield Residential Designs, 480 E. Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/467-4600,
    Interior designer: Courtney Giles, Courtney Giles Interiors, 2383 Alton Rd., Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/846-6570,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Warm Welcome

    “I see everything at design centers, so I know all the options—and there are way too many options,” designer Courtney Giles Decker says with a laugh. “It makes it harder for me to do my house than anyone else’s.”

    But it didn’t take long for Courtney, principal at Courtney Giles Interiors, to regain her design compass. Step one, she says, was to give the 1951 ranch—and the growing Decker family—some breathing room: “We wanted good flow, good sight lines, and an open feeling.”

    In the foyer, a stone table interjects modern texture

    Paint (“Natural Cream” #OC-14): Benjamin Moore,
    Console table (“Owen”/Bone Concrete): Bradley,
    Lamp (one-of-a-kind): Travis & Co.,
    Mirror above console: custom. 
    Art on console, left (by Katie Walker): Sandler Hudson Gallery,
    Art on console, right: owner’s collection.
    Flooring (50 percent Jacobean/50 per cent Ebony): custom herringbone hardwood.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Cozy Family Room

    So Courtney and husband Chris worked with architect Bill Litchfield to add a second story to the ranch, including a master suite, bedrooms for daughter Mary Clayton and son Whit, and a playroom.

    The family room was added to the back of the house. A large landscape painting by Atlanta artist Brett Deschene serves as the focal point of the space. A stately secretary that belonged to Courtney’s great-grandmother contrasts with a contemporary stone coffee table.

    Paint (“China White” #OC-141): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery (Ogee”/Vellum #M246/10, by Mark Alexander): Romo,
    Drapery hardware (custom): Barter & Galambos, 404/364-9011.
    Sofa (#685): Travis & Co. Upholstery,
    Sofa fabric (18 oz. linen #91024): Rogers & Goffigon,
    Zig-Zag patterned pillows (“Luxor”/River Bed): Katie Leede & Co.,
    Pillow trim (“Italian Leather Piping”/Black Bean): Samuel & Sons,
    Animal-print pillows (“Gattopardo”/Africano #111GAT12): Peter Dunham Textiles,
    Pillow trim (“Italian Leather Piping”/Black Bean): Samuel & Sons,
    Art behind sofa (by Brett Deschene): Tew Galleries,
    Sofa end tables: Scott Antique markets,
    Table lamps: Edgar-Reeves,
    Area rug: custom.
    Coffee table (“Simone”/White Concrete): Bradley,
    Sculpture on coffee table (“Hand-Carved Chain 5-Link Sculpture” and “Hand-Carved Chain 3-Link Sculpture,” both by Lazy Susan): Wayfair,
    Pair of chairs (#340): O. Henry House,
    Chair fabric (“Charisma”/Biscuit #ED85189.235, by Threads): Lee Jofa,
    Secretary: owner’s collection.
    Art above secretary (by Jean Glenn): Tew Galleries,
    Art resting on secretary: flea market find.
    Throw (“Avalon”): Hermès,

  • Kitchen Before

    Adding a second floor opened up space downstairs to expand the tiny galley kitchen into an airy cooking and casual gathering zone with connections to the home’s other social areas. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Upgraded Kitchen

    Courtney gutted the kitchen and started fresh, putting in a farmhouse-style plank ceiling, a brick-veneer backsplash, and an artisan-made steel range hood. Kitchen countertops are honed black granite, exuding dark sophistication while hiding every fingerprint.

    A casual attitude begins in the clean white kitchen and flows unimpeded to the adjacent breakfast room, which welcomes sunshine through new black-painted metal windows.“I love how the kitchen, breakfast room, and family room all tie together,” Courtney says. 

    Wall and ceiling paint (“China White” #OC-141): Benjamin Moore,
    Cabinetry (custom): Courtney Giles Interiors,
    Cabinetry hardware: Ashley Norton,
    Countertops (“Absolute Premium India Black Granite”): Walker Zanger,
    Island sink: Franke,
    Island faucet (“Perrin & Rowe Bridge Kitchen Faucet with Sidespray” #U.4719-2): Rohl,
    Counter stools (“Tractor Seat Stools” #WR 116): Wright Table Co.
    Range: Thermador,
    Backsplash tiles: brick veneer painted to match walls.
    Shelving flanking range (custom): Smithworks Iron & Design,
    Refrigerator: Thermador,
    Flooring (50 percent Jacobean/50 per cent Ebony): custom herringbone hardwood.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Breakfast Room

    From sipping coffee at the beautiful built-in banquette, it’s just a few steps to lingering over the newspaper in the comfortable, flax-hued family room.

    These spaces along the back of the house play to relaxed time with family, while formal areas at the front of the home greet guests with a gracious elegance. Family and friends mingle easily throughout the gathering spaces, as does Courtney’s mix of elegant and kid-friendly, heirloom and modern.

    New windows make the casual eating area off the kitchen a sunny paradise. Kids love the comfy banquette. Antique chairs pulled up to the breakfast table are covered in juice-proof vinyl.

    Wall paint (“China White” #OC-141): Benjamin Moore,
    Dining table (custom): Beau Studio,
    Dining chairs: antique.
    Chair fabric (“Forgetful”/Greystone, vinyl): Kravet,
    Hanging light (“Urban Smokebell” #MA-9106): Urban Electric,
    Area rug (custom): Eve and Staron Studio,
    Cabinet (antique Shanxi cabinet): Bungalow Classic,
    Art over cabinet: by Will Corr,
    Banquette cushion (“Melanger”/Smoke #31695.106): Kravet,
    Grey pillows with white embroidery (“Ogee”/Vellum #M246/10, by Mark Alexander): Romo,
    White pillow (“Diamante”/Antique White #2029-01): Kerry Joyce Textiles,
    Orange striped pillow (“Cairo”/Cleopatra #1091/03, by Great Plains): Holly Hunt,
    Pillow with orange velvet dots (by Jane Churchill): Cowtan & Tout,
    Grey striped pillow (“Mohair Chic”/Anthracite #29834, colorway discontinued): Kravet,
    Pillow trim (“Steppe Heathered Braid”/Pepper #977-56264-17): Samuel & Sons,

  • Dining Room Before

    The addition on the rear of the house prompted removal of the dining room’s original bay window.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Plum Pretty

    “The wallpaper was my starting point for the dining room,” Courtney says. “I fell in love with it.” The hand-painted wallcovering, in a luscious plum hue, pairs with an equally traditional crystal chandelier and antique dining chairs upholstered in sumptuous mohair and silk.

    Mirrored doors keep the room (now sans bay window) feeling airy. One door is faux, the other leads to Courtney’s office.

    Wallpaper (custom, hand-painted): Stark,
    Sisal rug (“Jewel”/Graphite Pearl): Eve and Staron,
    Chandelier: antique.
    Lampsmirror: owner’s collection.
    Dining table (“Sheraton Twin Pedestal Dining Table” #1811, by Holland & Co.); buffet (“Blenham Demi-Lune Sideboard” #4925, by Holland & Co.): Lee Jofa,
    Dining chairs: antique.
    Side-chair fabric, front (“Cinema”/Black Tulip #8609-12, by Larsen): Cowtan & Tout,
    Side-chair fabric, back (“Ellsworth”/White Sand #3074/03, by Jim Thompson): Jim Thompson Fabrics,
    End-chair slipcovers (“Shadow Stripe”/Greige): Nancy Corzine,
    Silver charger: Arte Italica,
    Dinnerware (“Chinese Bouquet”/Rust): Herend,
    Flatware (“18 Century,” by Reed & Barton): Lenox,
    Stemware: antique.
    Napkins: Gramercy,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Butler’s Pantry

    Mirrored cabinets in the butler's pantry mimic the doors in the adjacent dining room. Countertops are richly veined Calacatta marble. 

    Cabinet: design by William Litchfield,
    Cabinet finish (“Iron Mountain” #2134-30): Benjamin Moore,
    Countertops: Calacatta Olympia marble.
    Sink: Mirabelle,
    Faucets (“Perrin & Rowe Single Hole Bar/Food Prep Faucet” #U.4711-2): Rohl,
    Ceiling wallpaper (“Chinese Tea Paper): Roger Arlington,  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill


    The glam bar is tucked in a handy central location under the stairs. For drama, Courtney coated this jewel box of a room, even the ceiling, in glossy black. 

    Cabinet: custom.
    Cabinet finish (“Black” #HC-190): Benjamin Moore,
    Sink (“Hammered Nickel Como Bar/Prep Sink” KPU-1715BRN): Thompson Traders,
    Faucet: Rohl,
    Countertop: Calacatta Luna marble.
    Wallpaper (“Hicks Hexagon” #95/3016.CS, by David Hicks for Cole & Son): Lee Jofa,
    Light fixture (“Niles Flush Mount” #RL4700, by Ralph Lauren for Visual Comfort): Circa Lighting,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Home Office

    The same glossy black pops in Courtney’s office just off of the dining room. A graphic Osborne & Little wallpaper lightens the look.

    Wallpaper (“Vintage Volte-Face” #W5553-03, discontinued): Osborne & Little,
    Paint (“Black Jack” #2133-20): Benjamin Moore,
    Library lights (“French Library Single Wall Lamp” #S2601): Circa Lighting,
    Carpet (“Abetone Club”/Panda): Eve and Staron Studio,
    Chairs: antique. Chair fabric (“Oblique” #GWF-3050, by Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks): Lee Jofa,
    Storage baskets: The Container Store,
    Wicker basket (“Piper Woven Basket with Handles” #AB 218): Ballard Designs,
    Window shade (custom): Rose Tarlow-Melrose House,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Living Room

    In the living room, French antiques share space with a cadre of cannonballs. “I just stumbled on them at the Scott Antique Market in Atlanta,” Courtney says. “It’s a random, quirky find, but they feel at home under my coffee table.

    “Antiques are a big part of Southern culture,” the designer adds. “I like to mix them with contemporary art to make rooms feel younger, fresher.”

    The layout of this space didn’t change with the renovation, but Chris and Courtney did beef up moldings to match the elegance of refined antiques, which Courtney juxtaposed against an abundance of art.

    Drapery (“Two Sides”/Seal #2200/29, by Great Plains): Holly Hunt,
    Sofa (“Cordova Sofa” #S391-84-C): Charles Stewart Co.,
    Sofa fabric (“Chatelet Weave”/Greige #66472); geometric-patterned pillow (“Vanderbilt Velvet”/Dove #66190) Schumacher,
    Pillow at end of sofa: De Le Cuona,
    Cabinet beside sofa: antique.
    Lamp on cabinet (one-of-a-kind): Edgar-Reeves,
    Coffee table: custom.
    Spheres under coffee table: cannon balls.
    Area rug (custom): Eve and Staron Studio,
    Art above cabinet: flea market find.
    Art above stool, top (by Will Kay): owner’s collection.
    Art above stool, bottom (by Kimo Minton): Tew Galleries,
    Painted stool to right of cabinet (French): antique.
    Stool fabric (by Old World Weavers): Stark,
    Chair beside coffee table: antique.
    Chair fabric, front (“Tamara”/Bugatti #5543-02, by Brentano): Donghia,
    Chair fabric, back (“Shadow Stripe”/Greige): Nancy Corzine,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Artful Influence

    Courtney's art includes an abstract by New Orleans artist Amanda Stone Talley, which crowns an antique enfilade in the living room. Opposite that vignette, Courtney amalgamated pieces she’s collected through the years into a gallery wall. 

    Lounge chair by mantel (“Harley”): Saladino,
    Chair fabric (by Mark Alexander): Romo,
    Pillow in chair (“Lucerne”/Onyx #F3931-34, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout,
    Pillow trim (“2-inch Chloe Pleated Velvet Border” #977-55055): Samuel & Sons,
    Drink table: owner’s collection. Commode (antique): The Stalls,
    Painting over commode (by Amanda Stone Talley):
    Chair beside commode: antique.
    Chair fabric (“Shan”/Apricot Striae #L2012-60, by Larsen): Cowtan & Tout,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Gallery Wall

    “There are a lot of nail holes in that wall,” she laughs. “I started by laying the pieces out on the floor and figuring out how to arrange them. But then, as time passes, it’s a bit of an evolution. I want to be flexible and be able to move things around as I add new pieces.

    “Art is really important to me,” she says. “I started collecting art when I got my first design job at age 22. I like a mix of well-known and emerging artists, especially regional artists.”

    Paint (“Natural Cream” #OC-14): Benjamin Moore,
    Tall cabinet: antique.
    Chairs flanking cabinet (“Klismos Side Chair” #450-UPH): The Wicker Works,
    Chair fabric (“Stellar”/Dove Grey #ED85182.910, by Threads): Lee Jofa,
    Footstool: antique.
    Footstool fabric (“Metropolis”/Beige #F2850001): Pierre Frey,
    Art above tall cabinet, top row, far left: by Cecil Touchon,
    Art, top row, left (framed invitation): owner’s collection.
    Collage, top row, center: by Paul Rousso,
    Art, top row, right (by Jean Pierre Bourquin); art, top row, far right: owner’s collection.
    Art, center row, far left at top: French flea market find.
    Art, center row, far left, at bottom: owner’s collection.
    Art center row, left (by Melissa Mason): Tew Galleries,
    Art, center row, right (by Katie Walker): Sandler Hudson Gallery,
    Art, bottom row, left: Tew Galleries,
    Art, bottom row, right: by Brett Deschene,
    Art, bottom row, far right: Tew Galleries,   

  • Library Before

    This space used to be a bedroom with wood paneled walls.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Library After

    Courtney designed the library/TV room around an abstract in watery blues by local artist Kiki Slaughter. The art works with soft blues on upholstery and taupe-painted walls brimming with built-in bookshelves to create a serene sanctuary. “Chris and I have a ton of books,” Courtney says. “We wanted our own cozy reading spot.” Books are stowed in woven baskets to maintain the visual calm.

    The sofa and swivel chairs echo the blue in the focal-point painting by a local artist. 

    Wall paint (“Shenandoah Taupe” #AC-36): Benjamin Moore,
    Art: by Kiki Slaughter,
    Sofa (“Pamela” #2013): O. Henry House,
    Sofa fabric (“Kintyre Check” #F5820-07); pillows at either end of sofa (#F3616-02, discontinued): Osborne & Little,
    Plaid pillows (“Wilde”/Iron #DE12920): Holland & Sherry,
    Center pillow: Romo,
    Trim on center pillow: Samuel & Sons,
    Sofa end tables: custom.
    Table lamps (one-of-a-kind): Edgar-Reeves,
    Coffee table (antique): Acquisitions,
    Hanging light (“Small Cubic Lantern” #F-CD09S): Formations,
    Library lights (“Dean 12-inch Picture Light”/Gun Metal #AH2701, by Alexa Hampton for Visual Comfort): Circa Lighting,
    Baskets in shelves: The Container Store,
    Swivel lounge chairs (#3907-01SW): Lee Industries,
    Lounge-chair fabric (“Telluride”/Shark #M287/05, by Mark Alexander): Romo,
    Pillows in lounge chairs (“Mesmerise Linen” #ED85152, by Threads): Lee Jofa,
    Throw: B.D. Jeffries,
    Drapery (“Westbury Court” #21066, by Hodsoll McKenzie): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Art on right wall (by Katie Walker): Sandler Hudson Gallery,
    Art on left wall (by Martin Carbajal): owner’s collection.
    Area rug (custom, reversible): Eve and Staron Studio,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Pretty Powder Room

    In fact, calm reigns throughout the home, thanks to a refined palette that moves organically from room to room, with carefully orchestrated crescendos. Rich neutrals deepen from off-white, the color of fine china, in the kitchen to warm taupe and flax. A medley of soft blues melds with smoky plums and grays, plus touches of sleek black in every room.  

    In the powder room, a hammered nickel sink adds glamour to the sleek brushed granite vanity.

    Wallpaper (“Logos Cork Fleurette”/Pewter, discontinued): Stark,
    Vanity: Black India brushed granite.
    Sink (hammered nickel): Thompson Traders,
    Wall-mount faucet (“Acqui Wall Mount Bridge Lavatory Faucet” #A1405/44-2): Rohl,
    Wall sconces (“Saumar,” discontinued): Vaughan,
    Mirror (Louis Philippe): antique.   

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Master Bedroom

    An antique bench covered in embroidered velvet sits at the foot of an airy canopy bed softened with a fabric headboard and luxe linens.

    Wall paint (“Revere Pewter” #HC-172); ceiling and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Bed (“Phoebe”): Mrs. Howard,
    Bed fabric (“Keltering #21064, by Hodsoll McKenzie, discontinued): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Bed linens (custom): Gramercy,
    Bolster pillow: discontinued.
    Bedside chestsmetal starburst: antique.
    Lamps and shirred linen shades: Edgar-Reeves,
    Drapery (Prestwick Wool Satin”/Smoke #51527): Schumacher,
    Drapery trim: Holland & Sherry,
    Bench: antique.
    Bench fabric (“Medici”/Sage #1189-03, embroidered velvet, by Classic Cloth): Dessin Fournir,
    Wool rug (“Cumulus Cloud”): Eve and Staron Studio,
    Chair (“Casper Arm Chair” H404C): Mr. & Mrs. Howard for Sherrill Furniture,
    Chair fabric (“Chimera” #ED85191, by Threads): Lee Jofa,
    Art behind chair (J.F. Baldwin): owner’s collection.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Master Bath

    A light-filled niche holds a freestanding soaking tub. Sheer café curtains provide privacy without blocking sunlight.

    Hanging light (“Mini Arch Top lantern” #CHC3420): Circa Lighting,
    Bathtub: MTI Baths,
    Bath fixtures: Rohl,
    Window treatment (“Cornwall Stripe”/Linen #34583-2): Clarence House,
    Towels: Gramercy,  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Girl's Room

    Daughter Mary Clayton’s room is sweet but not babyish, Courtney says, a space that she can grow up in. 

    Wall paint (“Dustiest Blush” #202): Farrow & Ball,
    Drapery (“Dawn Chorus”/Dove, Winter #DAWN 48-50, Swedish Collection, by Vanessa Arbuthnott): Lucy Rose Design,
    Bed: custom.
    Bed fabric: Schumacher,
    Bed linens: Yves Delorme,
    Beige bed drapery: Ian Sanderson,
    Mirrored bedside table (“Catherine 3-Drawer Side Table”): Bungalow 5,
    Table lamp (one-of-a-kind): Pieces,
    Chair: The Charles Stewart Co.,
    Chair fabric (“Stockholm Stripe”/Dove, Winter #STOCK-48-50, Swedish Collection, by Vanessa Arbuthnott): Lucy Rose Design,
    Area rug: Stark,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill


    Courtney didn’t know if she was having a boy or a girl when she designed the nursery, so she went with gender-neutral taupe and beige stripes. 

    Wall paint, white (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Wall treatment: by Kristen Fountain Davis Designs,
    Area rug: Eve and Staron Studio,
    Cribbumpers and dust skirt: owner’s collection.
    Art behind crib: by Amanda Stone Talley,
    Ceramic stool (“Ceramic Cumulus Stool” #w6081): Wisteria,
    Wallpaper in adjoining bathroom (“Chain Link”/Charcoal #5004754): Schumacher,
    Flooring in bathroom: Bianco Carrara Polished Hexagon Marble Mosaic.
    Bench in bathroom (custom): Smithworks Iron,   

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Cozy Spot

    A sweet reading area in the neutral nursery also showcases the home's signature pop of black on the closets doors. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Upstairs Bath

    The playful upstairs bathroom wears an Osborne & Little wallpaper aptly called "Crayon."

    Wallpaper (“Crayon”/Blackboard #P565/04, by Designers Guild): Osborne & Little,
    Cabinetry finish (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Wall sconces (“Payson Sconce”/Polished Nickel #RL14021, by Ralph Lauren for Visual Comfort): Circa Lighting,
    Countertop: Carrara mable.
    Flooring (white Carrara with black dots): basketweave mosaic tile.
    Mirror (custom): Brooks & Black,
    Sink (“Caxton”): Kohler,
    Faucets (“Cassidy Two Handle Widespread Lavatory Faucet with Metal Pop-Up” and “lavatory Cross Handles”): Delta,
    Drapery: Lewis & Sheron Textiles,
    Drapery trim: Samuel & Sons,
    Flooring: Bianco Carrrara Backetweave Marble Mosaic.   


  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Guest Room

    Soft blue walls set the tone in the tranquil guest room where a collection of bird prints add character.

    Wall paint (“Skylight” #205): Farrow & Ball,
    Trim paint (“Pure White” #OC-64): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery and pillow sham fabric (“Gailen” #1021113634, by Hodsoll McKenzie); headboard fabric (“Leighton” #1021114334, by Hodsoll McKenzie): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Drapery trim: Samuel & Sons,
    Bed: custom.
    Bed linens: Gramercy Fine Linens & Furnishings,
    Area rug (wool): Eve and Staron Studio,
    Chandelier (antique); table lamp (antique): Edgar-Reeves,
    Wing chair (“Custom Chimney Wing Chair”): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman,
    Chair fabric (“Zazu”/Rose #F-7270, Summers in France Collection): Kathryn M. Ireland Textiles & Design,
    Bird prints: Scott Antique Markets,
    Desk; desk chair: antique.  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Back Porch

    Outdoors, on a freshly created back patio, black paint coats sliding barn doors that open to reveal another bar and a television. “It’s a great place to entertain,” Courtney says. “We love to invite friends over and watch football games out there.

    Aluminum furniture feels stay-awhile cozy thanks to plush cushions covered in indoor-​outdoor fabric. Slate floors stand up to traffic and weather. 

    Wall paint (“Cape Hatteras Sand” #AC-34); ceiling and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Flooring: slate.
    Barn doors: custom.
    Bar cabinet behind bar doors: custom.
    Seat cushion-fabric on built-in banquette; beige striped pillows: Donghia,
    Dining table (“Fairbanks Base, Rectangular”): Stone Yard Inc.,
    Dining chairs (“Klismos Side Chair”/Black Oak Drifted finish): Restoration Hardware, ​
    Chair-seat fabric (“Canvas Weave”/Periwinkle #600-140): Perennials,
    Mirror: custom.
    Hanging pots (antique): Nicholson Gallery,
    Aluminum furniture: owner’s collection.
    Cushion fabric (“Canvas Weave”/Periwinkle #600-140): Perennials,
    Coffee table (“Belmont”): Mr. Brown,
    Ceramic garden stool: International Art Properties,
    Hanging lights (“Mini Stable” #UE-3700): Urban Electric,  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill


    A columned porch added to the back of the 1951 Atlanta home speaks to Southern style and hospitality, welcoming friends for alfresco gatherings. Barn-style doors in sophisticated black amplify the charm. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill


    “This is just such an inviting home,” Courtney concludes. “It’s a great house all the way around—the perfect first house for our family.”  

    Chris and Courtney Giles Decker with kids Whit and Mary Clayton.

  • John Granen