Instead of ordinary shelves flanking the fireplace, create a pair of window seats.
Not Your Basic Built-ins
Clever nooks for books, a large fireplace sans mantel, and an eye-catching piece of abstract art give this room plenty of individuality
| Credit: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

Home is where the hearth is--that's the idea these Atlanta homeowners wanted to share with their two teenage daughters. "We wanted the girls to have their own space where they could invite friends over and have fun here at home," says one of the homeowners. The room had to be a kick-up-your-feet, hang-out spot with plenty of space to put things--and the more colors in the room, the better.

When renovating this 1940s home, one thing architect Rick Hatch did not want to do was alter the roofline and exterior walls fromtheir original design. So he turned two small first-floor bedrooms into one big space and added a stone fireplace along the outer wall. At the homeowners' request, the fireplace has no mantel--thick, white molding sits flush against the wall and outlines the stone. Vertical paneling, also painted white, maintains the casual, cottage feel of the room.

Snazzy Storage
Now that the room had a fireplace, there was another challenge: what to do with the space on either side. The solution? Have friend and builder Tom Williams fill the depth with window seats, complete with inset bookcases.

"The window seats are the width of twin beds," says one of the homeowners. Large windows supply plenty of natural light for reading, while plantation shutters offer privacy.

Warm It Up
Fabrics from Ralph Lauren reinforce the cozy feel. Muted red floral and classic khaki wool cover the window seats and plush pillows, while moss green velvet adorns the ottoman. A vibrant painting above the hearth adds a touch of sophistication to the casual space.

The homeowners' daughters enjoy spending time with friends in this comfortable hangout.

Page 166: Builder was Tom Williams, Tom Williams Residential, Inc., (404) 869-0333.

"Not Your Basic Built-ins" is from the May 2006 issue of Southern Living.