A FAMILY OF FIVE FINDS A PLACE TO CALL HOME IN CHASTAIN PARK
STORY: Giannina Smith Bedford
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna
Amanda and Mark Brandenburg planned to build a house. In 2016, they were finally ready to tear down their Chastain Park bungalow and replace it with something new when Mark, a partner at estate planning law firm Abrams Davis Mason & Long, and Amanda, a legal staffing executive, started having second thoughts.
“We had the architect, the builder, the financing, and were ready to go,” says Amanda, “but we had our third child at that point, and I was traveling for work, and my husband works a lot, too. I knew I was going to have to project manage the whole thing.” Amanda, who recently started her own national legal staffing firm, OpusLex, and last year launched online boutique Boho Sophisticate, admits the work involved in building a house from scratch was a deterrent. “I like interior design but didn’t think I had time,” she says. “So we decided to see if anything [on the market] was available.”
The Brandenburgs wanted to stay in the Jackson Elementary school district and, after looking at a few options, found a home that had been custom built by another family. The open floorplan with five bedrooms, five baths and two half baths worked perfectly. At three stories and 5,800 square feet, the family’s new abode was more spacious than their previous 2,900-square-foot home.
The cohesive, airy design by architect Ross Piper was also a big change from the 1940s ranch they’d been living in. So when Amanda brought over the furnishings and custom draperies from their previous house, they just didn’t work. “Everything we did at the old house, we used a smaller scale,” says Amanda. “We’d buy older Baker chairs that had hunting fabric and recover them in a fun pink.
We needed the scale to be smaller because the house was smaller, the ceilings were low and everything was petite. When we moved the stuff in here, my friend came over and said, ‘This looks like neon Barbie furniture.’ My husband was like, ‘I think we’re going to need new furniture.’”
Although some of the items, including the pink Baker chairs, survived, the Brandenburgs bought “a ton” of new, more contemporary furnishings. “Since our house is a true farmhouse-style, I’ve stayed away from any obvious farmhouse decor and leaned far more modern to create contrast,” says Amanda.
In the living room, white shiplap walls, a rustic wood mantel and Moroccan mosaic tile surrounding the fireplace set the tone for the navy blue, black and neutral palette. A Lee Industries sofa and ottoman upholstered in stain-resistant Crypton fabric from Interior Philosophy sits atop a Layla Grace rug, creating 2-year-old Remy’s favorite place to watch cartoons.
The kids, including 8-year-old Naomi and 6-year-old Hyatt, love to huddle on the screened-in porch’s sectional. “They pile out there with their friends and watch movies. They really love it,” says Amanda. Their mom keeps an eye on them from the nearby kitchen, where Serena & Lily Riviera stools cozy up to the wood-clad island beneath oversized industrial light pendants—fixtures that wouldn’t have been Amanda’s first pick. “They are just far too masculine and industrial for my taste, but people love them,” she says.
Amanda also wouldn’t have selected the dark granite countertops in the kitchen because “they show every drop of water,” but she does love the room’s layout, butler’s pantry and Dutch door where the kids’ friends often come calling. The adjacent formal dining room showcases an antique Milo Baughman burl wood table surrounded by Restoration Hardware dining chairs. In the corner, a recovered armchair from Ballard Designs provides a pop of color with its India-inspired Manuel Canovas Dara fabric.
Step from the dining room into the entry foyer, where a Moorish star light hangs overhead like mistletoe. To the right of the entry is Amanda’s home office, featuring a stately barn door that opens to the master suite. There, a spacious bathroom done in gray and white Moroccan tile features a walk-in shower and standalone MTI bathtub overlooking the backyard through three large windows. A vintage Turkish rug adds bohemian flair to the spa-like space.
Next door, Mark and Amanda’s bedroom is anchored by a king-size bed with a custom-covered Lee Industries headboard flanked by black and gold Nate Berkus nightstands from Target. A sitting area is furnished with a Jonathan Adler sofa from the family’s previous living room. Although the couple’s bedroom is on the busy main level, the entire wing, including Amanda’s office, can be closed off via a door at the end of a short hallway. “We love the functionality of this configuration,” says Mark. “Amanda can be in her office and be separate from the rest of the house or the master bedroom, or we can incorporate the office into our master. We can also be in the master bath and close the large barn door to create privacy. It’s a full wing/suite for us with various configurations.”
The kids’ wing is upstairs, where a spacious landing with a window seat and framed family photos separates Hyatt and Remy’s boy rooms from that of their older sister. The kids all have their own bathroom, each with a different brightly hued vanity. “When we moved in, I thought, ‘This is so excessive,’ but it works great,” says Amanda.
When they aren’t hanging out upstairs, the kids are often in the basement, where the playroom is equipped with a piano, mini trampoline, tons of toys and other diversions. Amanda covered the finished concrete floors with three large Overstock.com rugs to make it cozier. The basement level also has a mudroom, an extra guestroom currently used by the Brandenburgs’ au pair and a former in-home gym that now stores the goods for Boho Sophisticate.
The Brandenburgs may not have realized their dream of building a home, but they found a place that fills their needs. Plus, they have come to love the street they live on and the friendships they’ve made with neighbors. “We spend a ton of time out on the front porch, and it’s indicative of the neighborhood,” says Amanda. “The location can’t be beat—a private street within steps from the park and all that it offers. We feel so fortunate to live here.”
AMANDA BRANDENBURG’S TOP 5 LOCAL PLACES TO SHOP FOR HOME DECOR
1. B.D. Jefferies: “My all-time favorite. They are a master of the neutrals game, and their ability to create and mix textures always amazes me. It’s a challenge for me to stop in and find anything in this store that I don’t want to bring home.”
2. Waiting On Martha Home: “Mandy Kellogg Rye has a great eye for scale and pattern, and her beachy, happy decor will lift any mood and space.”
3. Huff Harrington: “Classic French finds with a touch of whimsy and glamour.”
4. Atlanta Artist Collective: “Owner Laine Kilburn represents some of the best artists in the South. The bright, colorful abstracts work well in almost any space, especially one with lots of white walls like mine.”
5. Interior Philosophy: “[Owners] Mandy and Jessica have a strong eye for classic, neutral, slightly bohemian finds. I love their lighting options, pillows and furniture. And they often have great sales.”
Giannina S. Bedford is multi-faceted writer and editor. Her work covers design, travel, food and business. She’s penned Simply Buckhead’s home feature since inception and held a variety of editorial roles at the magazine. Her freelance work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Virtuoso Life, Hemispheres and TravelandLeisure.com. She also contributes regularly Atlanta Business Chronicle. Fluent in Spanish, Giannina was born in Miami and grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia. She currently lives in Dunwoody with her two kids and husband.