Designer Anna-Louise Wolfe Gave This 1920s Condo the Ultimate Refresh
The Atlanta-based designer decked out her home with her favorite things: colorful fabrics, chinoiserie, and collected porcelain.
“I had no intention of living in a condo when I first started house hunting,” says Atlanta-based interior designer Anna-Louise Wolfe. But a 1929 Colonial Revival condo in Buckhead caught her eye. Its hardwood floors, original millwork, and old-school glass doorknobs checked off the items on her list. “It had all the historic charm I was looking for,” she says. Twenty years of renters had turned the 810-square-foot, one-bedroom place into a dirty, dated hangout spot. “It was a nightmare,” Wolfe recalls. First step: Repaint every inch. Decorating with her favorite things—chinoiserie, bold animal prints, vibrant fabrics, and cherished rose medallion porcelain—she turned the blank space into an ultrafeminine home in the city. Here, Wolfe shares her favorite small-space decorating ideas.
Design a Happy Room
“The sunroom is the perfect spot for morning coffee. I covered my paternal grandmother’s camelback sofa, which had been sitting in my parents’ basement, with an iconic chintz fabric, Hollyhock by Lee Jofa. Window treatments make a room, and these blue linen valances won’t block any light. I added a leopard-print rug because I think every room needs an animal pattern. I consider them neutrals, like natural woven shades and bamboo chairs.” Wolfe kept the walls neutral in Benjamin Moore's Pink Damask (OC-72).
DIY Decor Solutions
“I wanted something to cover the radiator in my sunroom, so I cut off the bottom shelf on a console table from Mainly Baskets Home. (Because I never turn on this radiator, it’s not a fire hazard.) I spray-painted the light fixture (found at a local antiques shop) blue.”
“My father and I made the shelves for the living room. I wanted them to feel original to the rest of the home and thought it would be fun to add something unexpected with a pink backdrop [Sherwin-Williams Rose Embroidery (SW 6297)]. The color peeks through behind the books and helps elements of the decor (including my Foo dog collection) stand out.”
Learn the Art of Arranging
“As a design assistant, I learned that bookshelves need a balance of tidiness and symmetry. An old boss taught me to always bring items forward to the front of the shelf,” says Wolfe.
Refresh Vintage Pieces
“I love, love, love fabric. It combines so many colors. I wanted to take something traditional and use it in a more youthful, girly way. I reupholstered a pair of slipper chairs (from an estate sale) with a velvet fabric, which complements the yellow table lamps.” Wolfe painted the walls in Benjamin Moore Rocking Chair (CSP-400) for a crisp and clean backdrop multiple shades of pink in the room.
Make an Entrance
Turning the sofa’s back to the door creates an entryway, along with a gallery wall anchored by a contemporary Mallory Paige painting.
“My maternal grandmother collected rose medallion china, so at a fairly young age, I started too. I’m a porcelain devotee and like hanging some of my plates on the wall. I’m a big believer in using what you have—like pieces from my china collection. If you arrange items properly, you can make anything look beautiful.”
Have Fun with Tiny Spaces
“A large pattern can help a compact room seem bigger and come alive, so I covered the kitchen in Thibaut’s Ming Trail wallpaper. It’s a wipeable style that’s more durable than others. Vintage-looking brass finishes and glass knobs keep the 1920s feel. Because my kitchen is the size of someone’s bar, I saved by using a remnant of honed black granite for the countertops. In small areas, you have to be creative with storage. You need to think smart and simplify.” The white cabinets [Benjamin Moore White Dove (OC-17)] don't distract from the bold walls.
Reinvent the Bar Cart
“Because the dining room is small, I also use the bar cart as a buffet. Pretty bottles of S.Pellegrino and liquor are musts for guests. Use Revere bowls for nuts; the silver adds sparkle. I also love to set out pretty cocktail napkins.” A portrait of Wolfe’s aunt, flanked by two chinoiserie panels, hangs above the bar cart.