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Design Ideas
House Tour: Southern Tradition Meets Modern Comfort
A Georgia home is infused with modern touches while maintaining its Southern character.
Homes south of the Mason-Dixon line are steeped in history. A look that has stood the test of time, Southern tradition doesn’t always play well with modern minimalism. But interior designer Lauren Davenport Imber of Davenport Designs, Ltd., says all you need to create a contemporary look imbued with Southern sensibilities is a clear focus... Keep Scrolling
Written by Elise Portale
Photography by Emily Jenkins Followill

Homes south of the Mason-Dixon line are steeped in history. A look that has stood the test of time, Southern tradition doesn’t always play well with modern minimalism. But interior designer Lauren Davenport Imber of Davenport Designs, Ltd., says all you need to create a contemporary look imbued with Southern sensibilities is a clear focus and a keen eye for balance.

Bright Ideas

When the owners of a home in the historic Brookhaven neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, came to Lauren, they wanted a fresh, livable look that respected the home’s history. “We wanted to keep the integrity of the home in terms of the architecture and the footprint, but just reallocate some spaces and open it up so it was more cohesive,” Lauren says.

Part of achieving that openness meant keeping spaces illuminated—a common thread in nearly every design decision. “Keeping things light and bright and letting in as much natural light as possible was very important to my clients,” Lauren says.

The use of shiplap in the kitchen provides a distinct cottage touch, but Lauren made a simple tweak to this classic look to ensure it matched the clean aesthetic they were going for. “We added the shiplap detail in the kitchen for bringing in the natural elements and giving it some architectural detail,” she says. “We went with a wider plank of shiplap to give it a more of a modern look versus your traditional shiplap, which tends to be a little smaller.”
Lauren wanted these windows to seemingly disappear as you stand and look outside. “In order to do that, we needed to go with darker colors on the windows so that it didn’t obstruct your view,” she says. The result is a beautiful touch of repeating contrast throughout the kitchen.
The dining room is a triumph of size and juxtaposition. Large pieces give the space presence and scale, while fine details keep the scene from feeling too heavy. “We wanted to keep it comfortable and casual, and by doing that with the neutral chairs with the little tufting detail, it flows well with the upholstery that’s in the adjoining family room,” Lauren says. “We needed to incorporate a large-scale chandelier to make it feel grand and open without it feeling like a formal dining room.”
The dining room is a triumph of size and juxtaposition. Large pieces give the space presence and scale, while fine details keep the scene from feeling too heavy. “We wanted to keep it comfortable and casual, and by doing that with the neutral chairs with the little tufting detail, it flows well with the upholstery that’s in the adjoining family room,” Lauren says. “We needed to incorporate a large-scale chandelier to make it feel grand and open without it feeling like a formal dining room.”

​In the kitchen, arguably the hub of any Southern home, the windows blend the nature outside with life inside, grounding the bright white space while melting into the wall. This contrast created by the dark-brass window frames became the starting point to the striking black and white drama of the kitchen—an effect that is seen throughout the home.

Fresh & Cool

Color and contrast are essential ingredients to a balanced interior, and when used effectively they can unify a home’s décor as well as its mood, but moderation is key. “We used the color blue as our contrast color throughout the house; you’ll see it in the family room and then you see it in the bedroom,” Lauren says. “We did it sparingly so that it added some interest and some detail, but it wasn’t the main focus of the room.”

The light coming off the French doors in the living room was too enticing for Lauren to resist. She added a small, casual sitting area off the side of the living room as a place where someone could be a part of the action while enjoying a serene view of life outside.

You’ll also see examples of layering, from the bold juxtaposition of flame stitch, stripes and abstract patterns in the living room to the kitchen’s palette of neutral colors, which, when stacked, give the space a litheness and depth.

For the living room, Lauren started with one element and built on it. “The first thing that I pulled together was that curtain fabric; I just loved how light and airy it was, which was in keeping with the ethereal lighting for the family room. And that became our bold pattern statement in the room,” she explains. “Then, pulling in more neutral textures with the linen and the woven fabric on the chaise and that slight stripe on the chairs allows for it to all really work well together.”

Modern Magic

​The success of this modern look is a compromise of what may at first appear to be conflicting styles: Nix the intricacy of a traditional crystal chandelier, but keep the scale. Wrap the walls in shiplap, but clean them up with wider planks and crisp lines. But perhaps the idea of the contemporary Southern home isn’t as strange as it first sounds. For Lauren, the aesthetic is easily distilled down. “Southerners are known for grand, well-decorated spaces,” she says. “Just purposely and well-appointed furnishings—very clean yet textural and inviting.” Modern or traditional, the success is behind the intention. And in Brookhaven, it shows.


Want the full tour? Click here  to buy the latest Summer 2018 issue of Southern Cottage!

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