This art-filled, kid-friendly abode weaves together the pretty and practical.
Thomas and Debra McDavid’s love affair began with music. The couple of 25 years met on the campus of Yale University where Debra was studying opera and Tom classical violin. Over the last two decades, they’ve composed a life melody through various careers (including as professional musicians), cities and residences. In 1998, they settled in Atlanta, where Tom grew up and now works as a Morgan Stanley financial advisor. Debra stepped into acting and is currently the host of “Atlanta Shorts” on PBS-PBA30. In 2009, she also released a music album titled Sleep Little One, Lullabies of the World, that she produced and sang on (and Tom played on). This multi-talented woman also dabbles in interior design, which has allowed her to infuse her and her husband’s love of all things creative—and functional— into their stone and shake-shingle Buckhead home. They share the abode with their 6-yearold son, Mason, and Cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Toy Poodle mix), Jett.
The McDavids purchased the newly built, 7-bedroom, 7 ½-bath abode in August 2015 to be closer to Mason’s school, Westminster. They loved the home’s open layout, but upon move-in, Debra used her stylish eye to upgrade the back porch to match the rest of the architecture. The brown columns were encased in white, a new railing was added and the floor was painted a light gray to give the space a sophisticated feel. Outfitted with an outdoor sofa by Laneventure through Logan Gardens, a custom quartzite table fabricated by Iron Studios and a cozy cream-colored cowhide rug, the porch is just one of the many spaces the McDavids enjoy with friends and family.
Another favorite hangout is the downstairs basement, where Debra transformed an unfinished room into Mason’s “rec room” complete with a basketball hoop, stained plywood walls and cement floors painted with a shiny navy finish. “It’s very fun, like an indoor basketball court, or you can play tennis or golf,” Debra says. “When Mason has a play date, I just put them all in that room.”
But the hallmark is the state-of-the-art media room furnished with a lounge-on-me white leather sofa, Jonathan Adler chairs Debra recovered in black crocodile to “up the wattage a bit” and black-out curtains to create a theater ambiance when the feature presentation rolls on the drop-down screen.
“We love family movie night. Or after we put Mason to bed, Tom and I come here and watch an episode of something we are currently addicted to,” Debra says.
The McDavids are also addicted to beautiful art, and the 6,500-square-foot home is a testament, with each wall showcasing a show-stopping piece.
“I feel beautiful art makes a huge impact on the design of the home,” Debra says. “Our favorite, go-to gallery is Huff Harrington Fine Art.” The classic and contemporary pieces sourced from the Buckhead gallery mingle with other works from various sources: a Chinese silk painting in the basement gifted from a friend, a Steve Penley picked up at an auction and a soft, contemporary painting of a Mason jar that Debra found online and purchased from the artist when she visited Atlanta.
Fine art may not be something you typically find in large numbers in the residence of a 6-year-old, but Debra has made it her goal to create a home that is glamorous but livable. In addition to not shying away from hand-picked art, she does this by combining designer furnishings with fabrics that stand the test of time. She says guests often ask, “How can you have a young child in this house?” Her response: “I used livable outdoor fabrics that can easily be cleaned.”
In the nearly all-white living room with Amy Howard custom Lucite chairs, oversized floor lamps and a glitzy Ainsworth-Noah, quatrefoil drum light fixture, the custom sofa by Bjork Studio is covered in Perennials outdoor fabric. And the Brazilian cowhide rug dispels any liquid spills. In the family room, a Ralph Lauren sofa in cotton velvet flanked by gold floor lamps from Arteriors accompany a previously glass-topped Barbara Barry coffee table that Debra contracted DEX Industries to retrofit with a white cement top when Mason was 18-months-old so he could play with trucks on it. In the nearby kitchen, with granite countertops and Thermador and Sub-Zero appliances, the breakfast area features a Global Views Faux Bois marble dining table with iron “branch” legs surrounded by antique Ralph Lauren chairs that are upholstered in super-soft faux leather. On the other side of the table, a built-in bench is covered in Sunbrella fabric so it can be unzipped and washed.
For the more “adult spaces,” Debra let her interior design instinct run the show. The dining room with a half-shiplap wall and Circa Lighting chandelier features Jim Thompson fabric drapes that create a subtle backdrop for the striking blue Turkish rug Debra sourced from Scott Antique Markets.
In the master bedroom, the living room’s all-white theme continues with a tufted leather bed and alabaster lamps from Bungalow Classic and custom mirrored chests by a North Carolina artisan. White tends to be Debra’s go-to palette, but in the upstairs guest bedroom, she mixes it with touches of celery and sea foam to create a relaxing respite. The room includes a Moroccan-inspired burlap bed from Noir, glossy white chests from Bungalow 5 and turquoise lamps by Arteriors fronting a pair of silver-leafed mirrors by Bunny Williams for Mirror Image.
Not every inch of the McDavid home is kid-friendly, but it is all artistically inspired. Like the blending of their musical passions, the McDavids have flawlessly melded their elevated interests into everyday family life.
Debra’s Top Tips for Creating a Sophisticated, Family-Friendly Home
Use indoor/outdoor fabrics such as Perennials or Sunbrella for indoor sofas and chairs and cushion covers.
Make sure all your cushion covers have zippers so they can be washed, which I do frequently.
Use a hard surface, like the cement top by DEX Industries, on the tops of high-traffic tables.
Buy furniture that is distressed if you know your kids are going to distress it more, so it blends in.
I have found cowhide rugs to be very family and puppy-friendly.
STORY: Giannina Smith Bedford
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna
Home feature writer and design columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel & Business Writer. Mother of Two.