Worried about dark colors? Don’t be, says designer Kim Winkler, who painted nearly all the walls and trim in her home with earthy hues of gray, putty, and deep brown.
Winkler and husband Brad were newlyweds when they bought their 2,800-square- foot home in the historic Atlanta neighborhood of Whittier Mill Village. Built in the early 1900s by a mill owner for his bachelor son, the house had been well maintained by a previous homeowner. “I knew we couldn’t get a fixer-upper or we’d end up divorced,” Winkler says, with a laugh. “In my work, I’d seen enough of that.”
Painting, however, was doable. Previously, walls were pastel shades with white-painted trim—not her favorite color palette. “I prefer warmer, cozier spaces, and earthy, natural tones,” she says. “This house just felt better to me with darker colors.”
In the familly room, Winkler repurposed old iron sewing machine spools into candlesticks for the mantel. The painting is by Cooper Sanchez. To offset dark walls, Winkler upholstered furnishings in cream-colored fabrics. An antique Swedish cupboard houses the TV, and vintage chairs were re-covered for casual seating.
Deep baseboards, French doors, and crown moldings are a dark brown, giving them more definition than if they were painted white, Winkler says.
Winkler, who is a designer at Westbrook Interiors, says her clients often ask for light colors, until they step into her house. “I get a lot of compliments on the feeling of my house when people come in,” she says, “because it is very warm and very earthy.”
Branches in metal pails are artfully displayed on the living room mantel. Winkler creates cozy rooms with a mix of comfortable furniture and rustic antiques, such as the warehouse pallet coffee table, vintage end tables, and stools. “I like antiques and well-used objects,” she says, “and I like to mix them with unexpected furnishings, like the linen camelback sofas.” A dark brown sisal rug grounds the room and repeats the rich color of the linen draperies.
Rustic and well-worn antique furnishings and nubby textured fabrics on furniture, windows, and floors enhance that ambience. Not all is rugged, however. The designer brings dressier furnishings into the mix: a pair of camelback sofas face a rugged wheeled-cart table, and glass wine decanters sit on top of a battered merchant’s trunk in the dining room. “I like to mix together things you don’t expect,” she says.
The family often entertains in the spacious dining room, so Winkler asked her father to make an 11-foot-long pine table with a distressed surface. New dining room chairs are upholstered in ivory linen with nail-head trim that accents the furniture’s curves. An iron-and-glass chandelier bathes the room in candlelight when the Winklers dine.
Comfort and livability are a must, with a two-and-a-half-year-old son and five cats in the house. Plus, the Winklers love to entertain and enjoy leisurely dinners with friends. “I don’t want to worry about scratches or water rings, or about someone messing up a pillow,” says Winkler. “If someone spills wine, it’s not a big deal. That’s the way we live.”
Kitchen cabinets and trim throughout the house are painted Pratt & Lambert’s Obsidian.
In the adjoining breakfast room, vintage pub chairs provide comfortable seating.
A massive canopy bed anchors the master bedroom and provides a soft landing spot for Frank, one of Winkler's cats. Above the headboard is an old wood machinery part, a French flea market find.
“I’ve always wanted a black bathroom,” Winkler says. Now she has it in her master bath. Upper walls are painted black and lower walls are covered with wood planks painted white. She designed a rustic wood-and-metal vanity base and topped it with a large rectangular sink. Toiletries are stored in antique baskets underneath. A garden-style galvanized light fixture and round mirror pop against the black wall. “The crazy thing is, I feel like I can see genuine color better when the walls are black,” Winkler says.
A striped wool blanket and pillows covered in a mix of antique and new fabrics warm son Oliver’s bed, which is an antique that Winkler inherited from her grandparents. Above the headboard are framed pages from a 1950s children’s book.
What traditional means to Kim Winkler: Creating comfortable, usable spaces, without compromising style. It’s mixing interesting antiques with newer pieces, and mixing early American and European styles in fresh updated ways.
Photography: Emily Followill