A BUCKHEAD FAMILY’S CUSTOM BUILD CHECKS ALL THE BOXES
STORY: Giannina Smith Bedford
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna
Mimi Thompson felt as if she spent all her time driving her two kids to and from their Buckhead school. Although she loved her New England-style home in Ansley Park, she and husband Andrew knew it was time to move closer to school. But after a failed two-year search for the perfect residence, they decided to build instead. In 2015, they worked with Muffley & Associates to find an almost one-acre plot on Blackland Drive near Chastain Park and hired Gargiulo Homes, architect Harrison Design and interior designer Traci Rhoads of Traci Rhoads Interiors to make their residential vision a reality.
“We were thinking about doing a ranch, but I didn’t know they’re more expensive to build because you have to pour more slab,” says Mimi. “So we gave [the architect a target] price range. When we first went in, we said, ‘We want this and this and this,’ including a library and a formal sitting area. He showed us our house plans and said, ‘You’re about $1.5 million over budget.’ So it increasingly got [pared down].”
The resulting 8,600-square-foot home is still very much a made-to-order masterpiece that fulfills all of the family’s needs and wants. Behind the picture-book, painted-brick façade are five bedrooms, five full bathrooms and three half bathrooms divided among three levels.
The main floor surrounds a jaw-dropping open kitchen with a 12-foot, Cambria quartz-topped island; glass subway and quatrefoil tile backsplash; dome Rejuvenation pendants; and a dark wood vent hood finished to look like metal. Nearby, a dining area with a Currey & Company chandelier overlooks the backyard’s saltwater pool and putting green. It’s all open to a formal living room furnished with a Lee Industries sofa and custom Vanguard Furniture coffee table.
“The style is an understated elegance that you still feel comfortable in,” says Rhoads. “You’re not afraid to sit on anything.”
Less understated is the elegance of the formal dining room that glitters with a Decorative Crafts chandelier, matching sconces and a subtle metallic wallpapered ceiling above the Century Furniture dining table and chairs. “There are five walls, not four,” says Rhoads. “You should never forget about the ceiling. You can always do something cool on the ceiling as well.”
Across the foyer from the dining room is where you can typically find Andrew, a commercial insurance broker, sitting at his walnut partners desk in a manly study done with dark gray paneling. The room’s decor pays homage to some of Andrew’s favorite leisure pursuits, from cars and hunting to golf and shark diving. “I asked him what his interests are and went and found books on shark diving, etc. to put on the bookshelves,” says Rhoads. “He also has a record player, and we planned a cabinet just for that.”
The home’s main level also includes many of Mimi’s must-haves: a spacious mudroom off the garage entry where all the coats, shoes and sporting equipment are dropped upon arrival; her cheerful office alcove done in navy and white wallpaper; a dog nook where the Thompsons’ pooches, Daisy and Hayden, nap or keep watch on the backyard; and a “pool bathroom” complete with a changing area, shower and blue glass-tile backsplash behind the vanity.
“We designed our home exactly how we wanted to use it. We thought through every single thing in how we go about our daily lives and have nooks for everything we needed nooks for,” says Mimi. “We use every square inch of space in this house.”
Another necessity was for 10-year-old Anabelle and 12-year-old Drew to have their own bathrooms—an upgrade from the Jack and Jill bath they shared in Ansley Park. In addition to a spacious all-white bathroom with vintage-style mirrors, Anabelle’s girly quarters feature tons of personality-driven decor, from a Society6 comforter sporting bubble teas and corgis to a llama-inspired sitting area where the family often gathers pre-bedtime to play Bananagrams. In Drew’s room, dark green walls and sports memorabilia convey his passion for golf, the Georgia Bulldogs and Atlanta’s hometown teams.
In the master bedroom, the theme is muted sophistication with grays and whites, a marble-framed fireplace and silver leaded-iron chandelier with crystal drops. In the apartment-sized master bathroom, his-and-her sections are connected by an expansive standing shower with three showerheads. Not a bathtub person, Mimi wanted to make sure the shower was more than adequate. “Almost every client now isn’t doing tubs,” says Rhoads. “A lot of people just say, ‘Make the shower huge.’”
While the master bathroom might be Mimi’s happy place, the basement has “man cave” written all over it. Done in a faux snakeskin wallpaper, it boasts a golf simulator, billiards table and backlit bar with a brick accent wall and chisel-edged quartz countertop. Andrew’s dedication to the game of golf is apparent by the wall of framed flags displaying famous courses where he’s teed off, from Augusta National to Pebble Beach. The basement even has a bathroom with a urinal for the boys.
“I hope my kids will look back on this house when they get older and remember how much they loved growing up in it,” says Mimi. “Yummy meals in the kitchen, movie nights on the couch, backflips on the trampoline, many friends coming and going, basketball in the driveway, comfy bedrooms and a house filled with lots of love.”
MIMI THOMPSON’S 5 TIPS FOR DESIGNING A FUNCTIONAL FAMILY HOME
1. “Don’t be afraid to add pops of color—not everything has to be in the same color family.”
2. “Put at least one item in every room that makes you happy when you look at it. This could be a family picture, a piece of art, or in my case, a glittery white fox statue that I have in my office.”
3. “Hire a designer you truly get along with. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them, and if you don’t see eye to eye, then the house will reflect that.”
4. “Walk through how you use your house in your mind and lay it out accordingly. This includes cabinets as well.”
5. “Have fun. Your house should reflect your personality. If you like that bright-blue pillow with sequined cardinals on it, then get it and don’t worry about what everyone else will think.”
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.