This Traditional Georgian Home Got a Colorful Makeover

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Home Makeover Exterior
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Atlanta attorney Molly Weathington always liked her Georgian-style house, but now, thanks to a remodel designed to loosen it up a little, she feels right at home.

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On Second Thought

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Home Makeover Exterior
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

For 10 years, Molly Weathington had been living the dream in the Georgian home she had built in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood in 2005. But as her family grew— she and husband Paul share his five adult children along with their two kids—they needed more casual spaces. While standing during dinners in their tight kitchen, she plotted out gathering areas suited to her family's constant get-togethers. Not wanting to move, she enlisted architect Frank Neely and builder Patrick Davey to craft a basement hangout zone for teens Paul Jr. (17) and Katherine (15) along with an eat-in kitchen bookended by a big den and a wraparound screened porch. Weathington likes the functionality of the indoor-outdoor space and the sizable den. "It allows me to host both small and large groups," she notes. "It just works."

Next, Weathington asked designer Margaret Kirkland to infuse warmth and youthfulness into her traditional interiors without getting rid of her cherished antiques. Kirkland recalls, "Molly said, "I want it to be cozy and comfortable, whether Paul and I are here by ourselves or we have a big group of people over." That was our driver in everything." They filled the rooms with a mix of relaxed upholstered furniture and contemporary pieces. Here are Kirkland's best tips for creating modern comfort.

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Inviting Entry

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Entry
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A combination of black-and-white marble tile, an ornate mirror, and a vintage console made the foyer—the home's first impression—seem too formal. To help loosen it up, Kirkland swapped out the ivory paint for Benjamin Moore's soothing White Dove (OC-17), which provided a backdrop for abstract pieces. "Lively art sets the tone that this house is an upbeat traditional rather than the sedated kind," she explains. The modern portraits by Southern artists Sally King Benedict and fluted ceramic lamps counter the marble floors and gilt mirror.

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Fancy Dining Room

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Pink Dining Room
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A beautiful antique chandelier was already "the star" of Weathington's dining room, notes Kirkland. To let it shine—and help the space feel lighter and brighter—she selected Sherwin-Williams' pale pink White Dogwood (SW 6315) for the walls and Pearly White (SW 7009) for the trim. Weathington says, "With the room's previous green shade, the chandelier just didn't pop quite that much, but now I'm like, "Oh, I like that even more!"" To make Weathington's antique mahogany dining set more youthful, Kirkland painted the chairs and covered the cushions in a hot pink chenille (Bandol in Pivoine by Manuel Canovas).

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Standout Living Room

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Green Living Room
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Challenged with a "dark," formal chocolate brown space, Kirkland turned to green paint for its quick-changing powers (for a similar shade, try Benjamin Moore's Dill Pickle, 2147-40). She then unrolled a funky, fluffy Moroccan rug and threw in a barely there acrylic coffee table. "Now the room just seems edgy— even though it's filled with antiques!" raves Weathington.

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Homey Den

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Blue and White Living Room
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

To keep this new space from feeling immense, architect Frank Neely wanted to shiplap the walls, but Kirkland convinced him to limit paneling to the ceiling. "It brings the scale of it down," she says. "We wanted to make sure all the upholstery was inviting and soft." She covered Weathington's existing deep club chairs in a floral Manuel Canovas fabric (Manoir in Ceylan) and chose a velvet for the "supercomfortable" Hickory Chair sectional. Multiple lamps and sconces add a warm touch, but the rustic Paul Ferrante chandelier really stands out. At nearly 4 feet in diameter, it's big enough to be the focal point in such a sizable space.

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Secret Bar

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Blue Bar
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Sherwin-Williams' rich blue (Naval, SW 6244) completely transformed the den's bar. "It's an unexpected little jewel box," Kirkland says. "The deep color makes it feel hip, and the Dutch door is an interesting architectural detail."

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Spacious Kitchen

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Blue and White Kitchen
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Weathington wanted a kitchen that could house the whole family. The large space now encompasses a breakfast table and large kitchen island without disrupting flow or function. This bright white kitchen doesn’t lack any character. Light blue subway tile and a weathered copper vent hood bring in touches of color and texture. The built-in spice shelf next to the stove makes for easy cooking and a clean counter top.

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Breakfast on the Side

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Blue and White Eat In Kitchen Table
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The other side of the kitchen houses the breakfast table with seating for six. Built-ins were added for storage. Bookcases allowed Weathington to display her china collection which brings the den’s blue and white color scheme into the kitchen. The windows open out to the back porch which allows the built-ins to serve as a buffet when entertaining outdoors.

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Party Porch

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Outdoor Dining Room
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The L-shaped porch was built to be an entertaining area, with the kitchen windows serving as a direct pass-through to the dining area. Kirkland wanted it to have a lighthearted and celebratory feel. Parisian-bistro-inspired dining chairs and a petrified-wood coffee table exude what she calls a "relaxed but inspiring" vibe, while an extra-deep, sturdy daybed swing ensures that the area remains a popular destination even after the party is over.

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Cozy Corner

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Outdoor Porch Fireplace
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Guests can spill over to the second entertaining area of the porch. A Palecek sofa and chairs create the perfect spot for lounging around the fireplace, making this space usable year-round.

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Power Purple

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Purple Office
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Full of color and well thought out design, this office space works hard. Weathington said, “If I'm going to have to go work, then I want it to be something that I want to go in there and see it.” With purple walls, a blue ceiling, and extra touches of green, this small office is full of cheer.

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Playful Study

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Kids Playroom
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The kids’ study room upstairs is perfect for lounging, playing, and of course studying. The room is brimming with color not only from the blue sofa, lime chair, and navy polka dotted carpet, but also from all the framed artwork from the children throughout their years of school. All of the fabrics are stain repellent so the kids can have fun and mom doesn’t have to worry.

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Dreamy Master Bedroom

Margaret Kirkland Georgian Makeover Purple Master Bedroom
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Walls and an antique settee covered in the same lavender pattern (Balinese Peacock by Scalamandré) create a peaceful oasis. To help the dark wood rice bed fit better in this pastel scheme, they painted it off-white.

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