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Simply Serene Atlanta Home
A casual design provides a serene respite to a full, frantic life
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Household serenity and teenage triplets sound like a contradiction in terms. Add a single mom, heaven help her, and the domestic scene potentially grows even wackier.
"We've definitely had our issues," laughingly concedes Atlanta homeowner Kathryn Kreimer, recently divorced mother of triplets Karl, Katrina, and Kimberly, and their older sister, Shelley, who lives at home between college terms. But life is good and relatively chaos-free. The triplets' individual iPods keep the daily decibels down, and a house redecorated in soothing water colors with splashes of sunshine turns the mood rings blue (that's good!) and spirits rosy.
An antique architectural remnant teamed with French boule balls on the mantel adds quirky, youthful character to the living room, painted "Palladian Blue."
Photography: Emily Minton-Redfield
Produced by Eleanor Roper
When her marriage ended, Kathryn, more than ever, needed the family's 1920s Craftsman bungalow in the city's Ansley Park neighborhood to be her sanctuary-serene yet playful, more like herself. In 2003, she called on award-winning designer Mimi Williams to begin the home remodeling. "I was starting over," Kathryn says. In no time, Williams picked up on Kathryn's pulse-every bit as idiosyncratic as her own. "I embrace quirkiness," declares the designer. "I would worry if everyone understood me." Kathryn considers herself among the lucky. "Mimi just has a style and an approach I like. I wanted a designer who's willing to get out there and take a risk," she explains.
Their authentic Craftsman bungalow in Atlanta's Ansley Park neighborhood.
Pairing the living room's small-scale antique Gustavian furniture, like a settee, with the mantel's oversize architectural tin piece-a bold triangle that sounds a modern note that has nothing to do with its age-comes second nature to Williams, as does including glass and mirrored tables and any number of light-reflecting blue spheres in the room's eclectic stew. Similarly, the pair of daybeds in the family room wouldn't be every designer's first choice for major seating. But Williams's keen eye saw them as more practical than whimsical.
Triplets Katrina, Kimberly, and Karl sprawl in the living room, which reflects their mom's love of blues and painted antique furniture mixed with such modern glass and acrylic pieces as the cocktail table. A Parisian floor lamp illuminates the Gustavian settee.
Living Room Details
"At our first meeting, it was obvious to me that Kathryn's lifestyle is full, frantic, and fun," Williams observes. "I naturally concluded she needed a casual design-out of both necessity and preference." The daybeds are a serious family favorite. "When the triplets arrive home from school, they sprawl out on them to crash, watch TV, study, and simply enjoy this relaxed space," notes the designer. Plus, the daybeds "have the bonus of being different as well as playful." Deservedly confident, Williams calls her time-tested technique, which can manifest itself any number of ways, a "hit of wit."
To better suit the petite owner, a curvy 18thcentury Swedish settee replaces an oversize California sofa.
As much as she does her own thing with home interior decorating, Williams first and foremost projects her client's personality and preferences onto the interior designs. With Kathryn, that meant paying tribute to the "beach girl" very much alive in a landlocked house. An Atlanta native, Kathryn spent summers as a child at the beach on Savannah's Tybee Island. "That's where I developed my love of the beach and of various shades of aqua and turquoise," she says. Even now, she hangs out, as much as she can get away with, at her parents' Blue Mountain Beach house, near Destin, Florida. During her visits there, she even manages to conduct her online business, Campus Cuisines, which brokers restaurant meals to private-school students.
A 19th-century French mirror and antique Swedish clock illustrate Kathryn's love of painted pieces. The buffet is topped with 19th-century painted and silver-leafed altar sticks and an old white urn with chipping paint.
"For this blue-eyed blonde who prefers the beach to just about anything and any place, I developed a palette from an existing tapestry pillow with different blues, teals, and turquoises," explains Williams. The designer had more evidence than the threads of a single pillow, though, to convince her she wasn't randomly spinning the color wheel. "I noticed Kathryn's choice of clothing. She was always wearing things like faded jeans with a gorgeous blue cashmere sweater."
The buffet is topped with 19th-century painted and silver-leafed altar sticks and an old white urn with chipping paint.
Blues abound in the design, many in the form of family art. "All of the pottery was designed by the triplets to go with our new decor," says Kathryn proudly. She finds the refreshed palette "relaxed and cheerful. The whites and creams are very relaxing, while the blues, yellows, and oranges lift my spirits."
Early 1800s Italian dining chairs in Louis XV style can be seen from the living room.
Comfy Family Room
In addition to reflecting her passion for clear sea colors, the decorating styles are trimmed down to suit Kathryn's petite frame. No more bulky sofa in the living room. The new de rigueur seating is a delicately proportioned 18th-century Gustavian settee. (Gustavian refers to Swedish furniture designed in the late-18th-century court style. An admirer of the fine furniture of his contemporary, Louis XVI, Sweden's King Gustav III commissioned pieces in the Louis XVI style, which the Swedish cabinetmakers greatly simplified.)
A pair of daybeds in the family room are favorite sprawl spots for the teenagers. They're also handy for overnight guests. Vibrant accents punch up the white fabrics.
"I fell in love with Swedish furniture because of its light color and classic design," Kathryn notes. She already owned the neoclassical side chairs, but they were in terrible shape. Re-covered in sexy turquoise leather and glitzed up with fresh silver gilt, they now exude envelope-pushing attitude.
One of the family room's focal points, the Gustavian apothecary cabinet is Kathryn's favorite Swedish antique. Introduced in the fun mix is a Directoire chair and an old iron cocktail table.
Kathryn's favorite Swede is the family room's apothecary cabinet, but she also enjoys its kissing cousins-painted French and Italian antiques in similar scale and shape. A 19th-century French armoire and floor lamp contribute to the living room's multilingual conversation. "The Italian enfilade in the dining room has the same soft blues and yellows as the apothecary," Kathryn points out, and her early-19th-century painted Italian dining chairs display Louis XV flair. "The design reflects Kathryn: petite, sophisticated, sexy. And fun," says Williams.
The triplets with their mother, Kathryn.