An inviting, light-filled family room is the heart of this family home.
Every mom knows: No one "lives" in living rooms. Backpacks immediately hit the floor when kids arrive home. Party guests always end up in your kitchen. And, finally--mom or no mom--you can never have too many shoes.
Designer and mother of two, Amy Bergman factored these truths into her plans when she and her husband, Bret, worked with Atlanta architect (and mom) Linda MacArthur to build a home in Atlanta's Buckhead district.
From the get-go, Amy put family first, asking MacArthur to center the home's design on an inviting family room that opens to the kitchen and a keeping room. "I didn't want to put the square footage into a living room. No one uses living rooms anymore," Amy says. "We wanted one main living area where we were comfortable hanging out together as a family."
Across the center of the house, MacArthur stretched a spacious 20x30-foot family room with dramatic arched French doors that open to a terrace. "We placed the family room across the back to get as much natural light as possible," adds the designer. A large-scale coffered ceiling with a warm whitewash finish bounces light and makes the family room feel cozy and inviting despite its size. Two wide doorways flanking the limestone fireplace step up to the keeping room and kitchen.
"We wanted a nice flow for entertaining because we love to throw a party," Amy says. "People can go from the family room to the keeping room and kitchen. The kitchen is where people always end up, so we made sure there was plenty of elbowroom for guests to spread out."
In the keeping room, four armchairs snuggle up to a fireplace that has a television mounted above it. Opposite is a graceful scalloped-back banquette designed by Amy for family meals or as extra dining space when entertaining.
MacArthur followed Amy's lead and designed a curvaceous wall behind the banquette to echo the furniture's sweeping lines. "That was such a strong, pretty shape and sort of sensual," MacArthur says. "We decided to make the most of it."
Circles, arches, and feminine curves are repeated throughout the house in textile patterns, window and door arches, transom mullions, and chandeliers. "The oval shapes and arches take the house to a more elegant design level, which was important to Amy," MacArthur says. "She wanted casual elegance."
The shingle-and-stone exterior of the house exudes a relaxed Long Island Hamptons style, which is also reflected in the white-painted tongue-and-groove ceiling in the kitchen. The ceiling was vaulted to capture light from a half-round clerestory window. A large window above the sink gives Amy a perfect vantage point for watching kids outside when she is working in the kitchen. "We brought in as much light as possible, and the room really feels light and airy," MacArthur explains.
Amy kept the mood light throughout the house, with a soft color scheme of taupes and pale blues. "It was important to have a very soothing palette--nothing too striking or too loud--so it made sense from one room to another," Amy says.
Draperies in the family room are a tone-on-tone bouquet pattern, hand-printed on Belgian linen. Facing ivory sofas with nailhead trim are in keeping with the scale of the room, but they are more than pretty silhouettes. "The sofas are great for lying down and watching the TV on the wall opposite the fireplace," Amy says. "There's a spot for everybody in that room."
A barely blue French fabric with a circle motif sets the color scheme in the dining room, where dining-chair upholstery and a grasscloth wall covering are a smoky blue-gray. A wool-and-silk rug has taupe branches winding on an ivory background.
Color in the kitchen is warm and rich, anchored by charcoal cabinets with hints of blue. For a pantry and coffee-bar area, Amy chose walnut cabinets with antiqued mirrors in upper door fronts. "I wanted them to have a furniture look," she says. The walnut-topped island sports a cream base that is "almost an extension of the floor," she says.
Daily life at the Bergmans' centers on the island, where Claire and Cole often eat breakfast and where they do homework after school while Amy fixes dinner. "This is a big kitchen, so we made sure there was a good work triangle. I didn't want to run laps around the room," Amy says. "I spend most of my time around the island. I have a sink here, and the stove and two refrigerators are behind me."
To ensure easy and kid-friendly access, MacArthur created a mudroom entrance near the kitchen. Jane Hollman, a mother of two and a millwork specialist, worked with MacArthur and Amy to outfit the mudroom with a built-in clock, a message board, and cubbies for everyone in the family. Now there's no excuse for not putting book bags away, the architect says.
The side entrance has a covered porch where Amy and the children wait for carpool rides and Amy can watch her kids playing outside. "The neighborhood was what sold the Bergmans on the lot," MacArthur says. "They really wanted a welcoming home." They apparently succeeded, Amy says. "Our house is like a revolving door, with kids coming and going."
Architect: Linda MacArthur, AIA, Linda MacArthur Architect, 942 Calvert Lane, Atlanta, GA 30319; 404/233-4771, lindamacarthur architect.com.
Interior design: Amy Bergman, A. Bergman & Co. LLC Interior Design, 404/423-4195.
Specialty millwork design: Jane Hollman, Studio Entourage LLC, 404/683-3889 and 404/233-4771, thestudioentourage.com.
Kitchen design: Design Galleria, 351 Peachtree Hills Ave. N.E., Suite 234, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/261-0111, designgalleria.net.
Landscape architect: Greg Arnold, ASLA, Garden Architects Inc., 678/358-8004.
Landscape installation: Yates Landscape, 404/271-9764, yateslandscape.com.
Contractor: Ladisic Fine Homes Inc., 404/495-0708, ladisicfinehomes.com.
Photography: Emily Followill
Produced by Lisa Mowry
Dining chairs from the Thomas Pheasant Collection by Baker surround a walnut table. The chandelier and foyer lantern are from Niermann Weeks.
Walls in Bret Bergman's home office are "Library Pewter" by Sherwin-Williams. The narrow ottoman features a sliding table top.
Amy Bergman and husband Bret with children Cole and Claire on the back porch.
A scalloped stair wall in the keeping room follows the curved lines of a banquette upholstered in Donghia fabric. The stairs lead to an upstairs playroom.
The architect vaulted the kitchen ceiling to capture light from a half-round clerestory window. The Wolf range is vented by a custom stainless-steel hood.
Blue-gray cabinets and a stone tile floor ground the kitchen. When Amy works at the Rohl farmhouse sink, she has views toward the front yard.
Curves, circles, and arches, such as the arched porch above the main entry are motifs repeated throughout the house. A family entry with covered porch is to the right of the front door and near the end of the house.
Wheat-colored bed curtains add height and drama to the master bedroom. The coffee-and-cream color palette is accented by a painting by Christina Marie Long.
An arched marble backsplash and paneled tub surround showcase the whirlpool tub. Iron casement windows are topped by a Nina Campbell fabric shade.
Architect Linda MacArthur captured space upstairs for a walk-in closet designed to store Amy's shoes and handbags.
Columns lend a gracious look.
Carved table legs, fringed pillows, and tufted upholstery work together to create appealing layers of detail.
Lime green hydrangeas and blue tableware make a pleasing combination.
Stacked pillows look inviting in the bedroom.
The arch in this children's room echoes arches elsewhere in the house and creates a cozy nook for homework.
A trio of airy light fixtures offers a geometry lesson.