Meet Chris Heard, our client and a fellow Atlanta-based architect and co-owner of Hendrick, a commercial design firm. Why are we working with another architect? We’re glad you asked!
Chris and Jones Pierce’s Bryan Jones go way back to when they met at Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. Fast forward from college to three years ago when Chris and Bryan reconnected at a mutual friend’s party. Long story short, Chris told Bryan he could use help getting a home redesign project off the ground. Soon, our residential team began collaborating with Chris on the interior design — and our very own Jones Pierce Structures build group — to bring Chris’ dreams for a forever home (and one with higher ceilings) to life.
Good Bones, Great Location
When Chris first bought his home, he used it as a rental for several years before deciding to renovate it and move in. The home, located in the historic district of Ansley Park, is a typical 1940s home — classically quaint with lots of small rooms. It sits on a peninsula of residential properties surrounded by the Ansley Golf Club on a unique street that feels more like it’s in Highlands, NC, and not Intown Atlanta.
Chris’ home was an amazing find, with its walkability and proximity to Piedmont Park and the BeltLine. It was a great candidate for a beautiful transformation that we were excited to take on.
Goals for the Project
Chris had many ideas for what he wanted to see in the home redesign. At the top of his wish list was that Chris wanted to claim his “air rights” — meaning, a more fitting space for the 6’-7” height he inhabits. Chris had lived with low ceilings and 6’-8” door trim his entire life and wanted more vertical space so his house could become his forever home. (Sidenote: Initially, we proposed a less-expensive option to Chris that would have kept the living room ceilings at their original height. But Chris persevered and asked us to find cost savings elsewhere. Now, we’re quite glad he was persistent!)
Chris’ other goals for the home renovation project included:
- Restyle the front elevation – Add new windows and relocate the front door to create better curb appeal.
- Expand indoor/outdoor living – Reengineer the front of the home with new doors opening up from the living room and downstairs family room and an outdoor living area in the front yard.
- Correct past renovation sins – One was to remove the step-up shower feature in the downstairs bath.
- Open up and refine the late 1940s living compartments – Redesign the lower level to add space to the kitchen and bath to create more breathing room. Enlarge the cased opening, recess headers in the floor system and add a more gracious stairway.
- Increase bedroom and bath count – Make the home an official three bedroom/three bath should Chris ever want to sell it in the future.
- Create a lifetime home – In everything we do, our recommended design changes should meet Chris’ goal of wanting the home to work for him for the long term.
- Take a phased approach for the redesign – Focus the design work on key sections of the home that needed to be addressed now vs. later, saving some projects (like replacing windows) for Chris to address later.
Come on in and Look Around
Ready to see how Chris’ home turned out? Let’s take a tour of his beautiful, what’s-old-is-now-new home.
Redefine the front door – The most frequently used entrance door to Chris’ home was close to the driveway. We eliminated the actual front door and relocated it, so it was closer to where Chris parked his car. The home’s new porch is now defined with styled timbers.
The exterior prescription – We added a glazed-boxed bay window to provide a 180-degree view of the nearby golf course, which creates a heavier center massing for the house. The boxed bay is a brick box with a higher plate height than the existing home. (This tricks the eye to think the home has a bigger “chest” than it actually does.) The new bedroom gable dormer stacks over new glazed doors opening to an east-facing terrace.
The interior prescription – The higher wall height and now-taller ceiling create a light-filled, vertically pleasing space for Chris. We also removed the cased opening and trim to give the interior spaces better flow.
Greater functionality – We added a small, 42″-high island to the kitchen, which doubles as a working space for Chris when he does video calls.
Plan for long-term use – Chris uses the upstairs bedroom as the home’s primary suite. We added a new dormer window facing east to the golf course. (In the future, Chris plans to convert the downstairs den to his primary bedroom suite.)
Dual-purpose space – Here, we recreated an idea that Chris discovered on his travels that combines a room-sized shower with a wall-mounted toilet.
Finding more green in the backyard – Chris’ property is one of the few in Ansley Park where the neighborhood zoning committee could utter the words “This is actually an atypical lot” when granting a setback variance for the front and backyard additions. (The back of the house is 20 feet from the parking lot of nearby condominiums.) We reestablished the property’s drainage and installed new brick walls and planting to provide views to the backyard.
Showcasing Chris’ great taste – The renovation gave him an opportunity to feature several well-loved classic pieces from his collection in the renovation, including a Knoll Eero Saarinen Tulip table and Frank Geery bentwood Hat Trick chairs and custom wallpaper for the powder bath, designed by Chris’ artist-friend Brett Smith.
Over to You, Chris
We checked back with Chris recently to see how he’s been enjoying his home since we ended our awesome collaboration — and here’s what he had to say:
“Having the same architecture education from Auburn, I knew that Bryan and I would be great collaborators. Our design philosophies are rooted in architecture despite our different career paths. This made for an exciting and fun project for me. The JP Studios team are wonderful professionals and helped my dream come true! I still can’t believe the transformation … neither can my neighbors.”
Until we meet again on this blog … we’re signing off with one more photo of Chris’ home with its night-time glow.