The architectural duo of Spitzmiller and Norris combine their talents with interior designer Teri Duffy to artfully rework an Atlanta home while maintaining its vernacular integrity.
Text: Robert C. Martin
Photography: John O’Hagan
Existing homes that have potential, particularly older ones, are often said to contain “good bones.” What’s commonly understood with this lively description is that although a house may be dated or rough around the edges, it possesses enough attributes and sound features to translate into an improved, better-than-ever makeover. And sometimes, a full-fledged overhaul is in order. Such was the case with this Atlanta Craftsman bungalow and adjacent guesthouse/garage.
Built in the 1920s, the home and guesthouse reflected a time when tight, compartmentalized rooms with limited access to the outdoors were the norm. To undo this awkward arrangement and bring life back into both structures, the homeowners called upon well-known architects Frederick Spitzmiller and Robert Norris. Having worked with the owners on a previous residence, the architects welcomed the opportunity to embark on this twofold project.
To round out this noteworthy design team, interior designer Teri Duffy and assistant designer Ashley Pendleton Shannon joined in. Together, these professionals made it their mission to fuse the original character of the two structures with the homeowners’ lifestyles and tastes.
“It was important to this couple that they achieve a comfortable home that was respectful and appropriate to its period architecture,” says Duffy. “Ashley and I had the opportunity to start fresh with the furnishings, so we selected traditional pieces intermixed with antiques.”
The architects started by assessing the strengths and shortcomings of the two structures and evaluating their overall style and integrity. “While it displayed many of the hallmark features of a bungalow, the main house house also exhibited a series of graceful, semi-Tudor components,” says Spitzmiller.
“Its exterior materials, such as quarry-faced stone, stucco, half-timbering, and tapestry brickwork, all represent an aesthetic that was popular in the early 20th century.” And while the the home appeared relatively intact, its faults became evident once inside with a series of dark, cramped rooms that lacked any sense of flow and continuity.
“In addition, despite the wonderful property around the house, the homeowners, who are both avid gardeners, couldn’t enjoy views of their handiwork from the inside,” Spitzmiller adds.
“Instead, they had to literally be standing in their garden to appreciate it.”