Text: C. Brandon Ingram
Photos: John O’Hagan
Built in 1939 in Atlanta’s Buckhead community, a grand, classically built home fell into a near state of disrepair after sitting vacant for many years. While the house exuded an air of sadness—its Greek Doric columns, rotting cornices, and sagging shutters all in desperate need of tending—there were still hints of its former glory on display. Having built a career out of designing classic new houses and renovating historic ones, architect Brandon Ingram knew that there was a relatively easy path to breathing new life into this home. “I would have advised any client to buy it in a heartbeat, but things get very personal when you’re talking about your own house,” says Ingram.
When Ingram first walked through the door, he was taken aback by the beauty that was hiding in plain sight. The rooms had a proportion and scale that felt just right, and architectural details were subtle yet elegant. “I could immediately picture our lives playing out in each of those spaces,” he says. “Where the Christmas tree would go, where the kids would do homework, where our favorite pieces of art would be hung, and that was all it took. We bought the house in November of 2017.”
After months of tedious behind-the-walls work that included updating mechanical and electrical systems, adding insulation, and repairing the slate roof and its built-in gutters, Ingram was finally able to turn his attention to making the house a home. From an architectural perspective, it was Ingram’s goal to not be too heavy-handed with major changes to the house. “It’s fascinating, really, how well an old house can function for families today when given the chance,” he says. “So, we decided to let the floorplan stay exactly as it was, adjusting our lives to the house instead of the other way around.”
For the interiors, Ingram insisted on remaining respectful to the house and its history while also insuring it would be filled with things he and his family loved. The goal was to allow it to feel current, fresh, and livable for a young family. Enter Ingram’s friend and frequent collaborator, Mallory Mathison Glenn. “We knew her trademark use of color and pattern would be the perfect complement to our style and our collections, and a comfortable foil to the formality of the home,” says Ingram. Glenn helped to weave a common thread throughout the interiors, telling a story of who the family was and what they love.
The living room, with its stunning Greek Key mantel, has a color palette of yellows, reds, and blues that was built around a large painting of Elvis Presley by Steve Penley—one of Ingram’s most prized possessions. On the opposite side of the house, the dining room’s rich blues, corals, and greens were pulled from Ingram’s wife Katie’s collection of antique Rose Medallion. In the den, which the family calls “the green room” wood walls and bookcases are swathed in a rich green with a wallpapered ceiling and some sentimental art. The family room was given a slightly quieter, soft green palette and fosters the ethereal feel of an English club room.
“Katie and I love the thought of teaching our children to live with nice things, so we are always careful not to over-think kid-proofing,” says Ingram. “There is a conscious mix of high and low throughout—we want every room to be beautiful, of course, but we want them all to be used, too.” While the family is only four years into living in the historic home and there will always be improvements and updates on their to-do list, they take great pride in having answered the call to bring the diamond in the rough back to life and calling it their home.