Seth van den Bergh and Daniel Zimmerman, founders of Atlanta interior architecture + interior design firm The Drawing Room ATL, wanted to bring a fresh perspective to historic homes in Atlanta. So often, designers and developers will opt for an on-trend approach, destroying the elements that add character and history to a neighborhood in the process. This home, located in Midtown, had been passed down through generations, accumulating quick renovations over the years and lacking a sense of cohesion.
The Drawing Room ATL wanted to modernize the space while honoring its story and past. By doing a little research, they realized the best way to do this would be through natural stone. Specifically, Polycor’s Georgia Marble – Pearl GreyTM. Polycor is the world’s leading natural stone quarrier, and their Pearl Grey marble hails from a small town called Tate, just about an hour outside of Atlanta. The marble itself has white, gray and black veining, which results in interesting surface movement and its thin, closely-packed and homogenous grain structure gives superior strength and resistance. It’s no wonder that the marble has been used for over a century in indoor and outdoor architectural projects. We’re not talking small landmarks either — the U.S. Capital building, the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, New York’s Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, MOMA’s sculpture garden, and the facade of the New York Stock Exchange all feature Pearl Grey.
Seeing it come to life in a residential home is just an added bonus. In a recent interview, the designers told us more:
Tell us about The Drawing Room. How would you describe your aesthetic, and your approach to design?
We are driven by a global perspective. Continental. We work together to solve design problems, and create innovative solutions for our clients. We believe it takes time to develop and curate a truly authentic home. Modernist driven by classical design principles.
We are inspired by those who want to be different and those that are innovators. The Drawing Room doesn’t play into the hand of “design trends.” We draw inspiration from European architecture, and how historical and modern elements can live in tandem. The homeowner wanted to create a home that was modern, and forward-thinking. An interior with courage.
Tell us a little about this property. Where is it located, what condition was it in at the start and what was your vision for the space?
The Drawing Room ATL took the opportunity to show Atlanta – specifically Midtown – there is another way to renovate historical architecture within the city. You do not need to create another “Urban Barn.” You do not need more ship-lap, reclaimed wood, or white subway tile. Rather, let’s modernize them. Juxtapose the historical characteristics of these properties through a modern lens and create interiors that inspire.
The home is a classic 1920s Bungalow in the heart of Midtown – blocks from the highest density of cultural destinations in the Southeast. The home had been neglected – passed from family-to-family through the decades. The kitchen was last updated with an out-of-box solution likely installed in the late-80s to early-90s. Foundation issues and a one-story home, our directive was to enhance the architecture during the addition of a second story, bringing the home from two-bedrooms & one bath to a four-bedroom & four bathroom property.
The home was a two-bedroom, two bath, one-story home. Now, the re-appointed floor plan, developed with an enhanced main suite, as well as add a second floor featuring two additional bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a generous-sized laundry room. Architectural details abound including impressive 12.5′ ceilings, four fireplaces, a meticulously crafted trim package, and a modern approach to combining the kitchen and dining areas. The kitchen is decadent in both style and function. Modern cabinetry and inset antique mirrors are juxtaposed against an impressively detailed window and door casements. The bath is awash in marble and features a generous walk-in shower. Solid oak hardwood floors are newly installed showing attn to craftsmanship in the form of chevron inlay in both the dining room and main hall. Every marble fireplace, countertop, and the tiled surface was born from a single block sourced at a local quarry infusing a timeless sense of place. The attention to detail is undeniable and amounts to no less than an unforgettable home that sets a new standard in Midtown.
The property feels historic, yet features a lot of contemporary art and modern furnishings. In your opinion, why do these contrasts work so well together?
Maintaining a wide lens is an important part of our aesthetic as it allows different genres of design to be juxtaposed against one another – layer upon layer – in a composition that ultimately tells the story of each client’s personality. We pull from our clients’ preferences as well as our collective well of design experiences to develop a style both eclectic and metropolitan. Our preference is the path of creativity and innovation when possible. An underlying current of curiosity and excitement flow through each dimension of an interior as it is explored by the viewer.
The juxtaposition of design styles work well with each-other because they allow you to appreciate each-style for their unique time period, influence, and styling.
How did you make the Polycor Pearl Grey marble connection? Why was it important for you to use this marble in the design of the space?
While enhancing the period-architecture we thought it would be equally interesting to incorporate a stone widely used around the city and Southeast — Polycor’s Georgia Marble – Pearl GreyTM. As we are influenced by European-design we are also inspired by their extensive use of marbles; commonly detailed and used on nearly every surface in bathrooms. With this in mind, we looked to how we could create a North American approach – a Georgian approach – using a material equally beautiful. The stone offers a unifying language to the home. No gimmicks. We look to the stone’s natural beauty – application – and volume – to create a timeless and current residence.
What are some of the ways you brought Pearl Grey into the property?
Every marble fireplace, countertop, and the tiled surface was born from a single block sourced at a the local Polycor quarry in Tate, GA infusing a timeless sense of place. The attention to detail is undeniable and amounts to no less than an unforgettable home that sets a new standard in Midtown.
What was it like working with Polycor? What surprised you about their approach to stone?
Our working relationship with Polycor is unlike any from our past. There is an understanding and shared respect for the natural beauty of stone, and we were equally surprised to learn of the custom capabilities: coordinating countertops with tile. What started as a tour of their Tate, Georgia quarry and a lesson of the stone’s historical place on our national monuments, has become a rewarding and powerful resource for stone. Like The Drawing Room they are modernists – forward thinking creators – with an appreciation for classical design materials.