Some people inherit a piece of furniture, maybe an antique watch or engagement ring, from their grandparents. Beau Allen inherited a house—one that was in such a state of disrepair that several family members thought it was a teardown. In fact, when Beau and his wife, Allison, held their wedding in the meadow behind the home in 2015, they threw the after-party in the mold-infested living room. "We filled it with a bunch of balloons and a disco ball. We didn't have to worry about anyone breaking anything," says Allison.
Beau's grandfather Ivan Allen, Jr., was the mayor of Atlanta and a champion of desegregation in the 1960s. He and his wife, Louise, loved to travel and filled the ranch-style, mid-century house with Asian- and African-inspired wallpapers and furniture. But after Louise died in 2008, the house sat unattended for years. Where some saw a lost cause, Allison—who had trained with designers J.D. Bell and Ashley Whittaker in New York—saw a treasure. Sort of. "We thought we'd come in to fix a few things, like a 10-year Band-Aid," she says. Their plan was to make it habitable—good-bye, mold and asbestos—and freshen it up without any major construction. "You don't want to put a ton of money into a house you might tear down one day," she says.
Spoiler: There are no plans to tear it down now. "I had to get creative, but we ended up having a lot of fun," Allison says. "There are so many unique details that I grew to love, like the crazy inlaid designs on the floors and even the old-fashioned hardware. It's such an interesting house." She helmed a furiously quick transformation that took just two months, and that time included a kitchen redo. "I was the general contractor for the project, and my handyman, William "T-bone" Bryant, basically lived here," she says. Color was one of her major changes. "I'm convinced people decorate in the shades that look good on them. Louise was an autumn, so there were a lot of reds and deep yellows," says Allison, who chose a classic blue-and-white palette. But she made sure to include chinoiserie accents as a nod to Louise's love of Asian antiques. Read on to see how Allison updated the 67-year-old home without knocking down a single wall.