A PLACE OF HER OWN
A longtime Morningside resident gives her old home a new look
STORY: Lia Picard
PHOTOS: Erik Meadows
Tucked away off the beaten path in Morningside sits the home of Susan Barnett. A white brick bungalow dating back to the 1940s, the house is welcoming with a big front yard and stairs leading up to it.
Barnett moved into the house five years ago. A Morningside resident since the 1980s, she was happy to leave behind the hustle and bustle of main thoroughfare Rock Springs Road, where her previous house was. She was looking to downsize but didn’t want to give up the neighborhood she had come to love. “Morningside has always had a great reputation in my mind. It’s a very eclectic community with places to shop and eat and enjoy intown living,” she says.
The house was dated, though, and Barnett was excited to make her own mark on it.
“I consider redecorating a continuous process; it’s never done. I’m always redecorating. You can ask my son,” she says, laughing. Right out of the gate she made small, basic changes. The floors were changed to a darker wood, the wall color was freshened from its darker hue to bright white and basic window treatments were added. About three years ago she enlisted the services of Jenny Warner, founder of J. Thomas Designs Inc. and a Virginia-Highland resident. Warner says, “Susan has a good eye and had a lot of great items already. She really wanted help with her dining room and making sure the table was the right size and wanted to make sure she wasn’t making a mistake. It started as a small project, but over the years we’ve layered things.”
Barnett describes her style as traditional but with an eclectic flair. This is especially noticeable in the dining room, where a dark wood round table with an embellished perimeter sits. The only original lighting fixture in the house is the this room’s crystal chandelier. It’s a fun surprise, though, to notice the fabric on the dining chairs—a black-and-white leopard print.
Warner says, “She’s willing to take a risk if she knows it’s going to be interesting. Some of our risks have been neutral (i.e. black and white) but strong.” She also has a penchant for French country decor, which is seen in the keeping room’s red-printed accent pillows, and in the green, earthy tones throughout the house.
The kitchen originally had amber brown stained cabinets that Warner suggested should be painted a lighter, neutral color instead. Barnett also changed out the lighting fixtures to reflect her feminine style. Made of stainless steel, the fixtures resemble rings encircling planetary orbs with crystal pendants hanging from the bottom. Her favorite feature of the house is the window treatments in the kitchen. A nod to chinoiserie style, they’re emblazoned with red pagodas that punch up the room and tie in the colors from the adjacent keeping room’s rug.
The deep backyard has a wooden deck that looks over lush greenery. Shaded by trees, you may forget that you’re in the heart of the big city. “She has a secluded oasis in the middle of Morningside,” says Warner. When Barnett moved in, she had White Builders Inc. construct a pavilion adorned with a cupola. Outside the pavilion is a vintage garden table, and strands of bistro lights add a festive twinkle even during the day. Warner worked her magic inside the pavilion. “It had good bones with the couch and vintage rockers,” she says. “It needed some pop, so we added the orange-hued rug, a garden stool and pillows.”
In the living room at the front of the house, Barnett looks content in her space. The statement piece here is a coffee table she found at an estate sale. As with other elements throughout the house, it has a French feel that’s reflected in its gilded finish.
The house may be almost 80 years old, but thanks to Barnett’s knack for redecorating and her collaboration with Warner, it’s a fine fit for an established neighborhood.
J. Thomas Designs Inc.
The foyer’s Thibaut Wallpaper
Wallpaper Plus Atlanta
The living room’s green candlesticks
Dining room chairs
Dining room centerpiece
Kudzu Antiques + Modern
Kitchen window treatment
Lewis & Sheron