Ride-by: A Charming Italian City House

September 20, 2010 | 33 comments

A house nestled somewhere in the rustic Italian countryside?

Given the lush landscaping in the photo above, it would be easy to arrive at that conclusion; the photo is the ultimate illusion. Don't be fooled, however. This Italian stunner rests at the corner of a busy intersection just off of Peachtree Road near Phipps Plaza in Atlanta. I've known about the house for a couple of years and even had the fortune to see the inside of it when it was on the market in the recent past. I was quite enamored with the house then and am even more so now.

My re-introduction, if you will, to the house was driven by a mild kick for Italian architecture that I've been on lately. I've been seeking out Italian-style houses in Atlanta and studying them, trying to decide which details I love and which I loathe. This house proved to be a great case study for soaking in the details of, particularly now that my eye is much better trained than when I last visited it during its time on the market.

I told you it was situated near a busy intersection. Don't let that disappoint you though. The ample landscaping envelopes the house on all sides, yielding just the right balance between privacy and views of the Atlanta skyline. Behind the shorter cypress trees and below the row of transomed windows lies a hidden patio.

A close up photo reveals the architectural detail that abounds on this house. Notice how the windows and doors are surrounded by inset bricks. I especially like that detail and the visual effect it lends to the facade. It's ostensibly an inexpensive touch that really makes all the difference. Also notice the X-motif on the transom windows that is mirrored on the iron balcony railing. Again, a perfect detail. And the lanterns flanking the door, sold.

The house is a long, narrow rectangular structure; simple, but just right. Seen here is the left side of the house. The excellent brick work stands out here too. Notice the various bandings. The top banding is achieved by four rows of graduated steps, the top step having a bull-nose edge.

Under the 3rd story balcony on the left is the main entrance. It's not readily apparent, but the house is three stories on this side. The first level is below grade and houses the drive-under garage. There is an elevator from the garage to the 2nd and 3rd stories in case you're wondering.

This photo also highlights the excellent metal railing. If you click the photo to enlarge it, you can see that there is a round "bullet tip" detail at the center of where the bands of metal cross to form the X pattern. I really like that and the "squiggle" points atop every other post in the railing. The simplest details always do it for me.

Along with the front and rear facades of the house, the right side is two stories. Notice that the balcony wraps around from the left side, across the front and then around to the right side shown here. The balcony is perfect for entertaining a large crowd and I'm sure everyone leaves with a lasting impression of the view of the Atlanta skyline.

Remember the hidden patio I mentioned? Here is the exterior entrance to it from the side lawn. You can see that the excellent metal work design was carried over to the gate. The landscaping is fantastic, from the pavers  to the ivy growing on the house to the boxwoods.

And the landscaping keeps getting better as you enter the patio. A welcoming pea gravel lined sitting area centers the patio. I spy white hydrangeas in the background - another favorite of mine.

I do have pictures of the interior of this house and can share them in a later post. Because my current interest is with the exterior architectural details, I wanted to focus on that. I will tell you about a few salient features of the interior, though. The 2nd story (or ground level) has the bedrooms. The 3rd story is broken into two rooms: a library/study sits at the far left and a long, large room comprised of the living area, dining area and kitchen occupies the rest. The ceilings are 14 feet on that level - grand, but scaled properly.

A summary of the details that I love about this house follows:
  • The barrel tile roof. It sits in perfect color harmony with the brick. I really have quite a penchant for antique barrel-tiled roofs. Like their cousins slate and cedar, barrel-tiled roofs give houses that certain feel of authenticity that just can't be recreated with an asphalt roof.
  • The iron work railing with its subtle details.
  • The ivy growing all over the house.
  • The rectangular copper lanterns spread around the exterior.
  • The wraparound balcony.
  • The dark color of the window trim and eaves.
  • The detail in the brick. I have a love-hate relationship with brick. I love when it's done right with special details like on this house and hate it when it's otherwise bland.
Architecture by Lew Oliver of Serenbe and other planned community fame. All photos by me.

Fellow Atlanta-based architecture enthusiast Terry (Architecture Tourist) reminded me of a similar post he did on this house almost two years ago. Visit Terry's post to see the landscape evolution this house has undergone. His pictures are pre-ivy and highlight the difference that ivy makes.

One last thing, I wanted to thank everyone that has sent me emails of encouragement to keep this blog going. I'm flattered and amazed by the continued interest despite my lack of posts. Hopefully I can gain some momentum again and pickup where I left off, writing about the things I find interesting and inspiring.

** Don't forget that you can click the photos to enlarge them. Most of the photos I include in my posts are much larger in size than they are displayed in the post.

This post is part of a series titled Ride-by Architecture that is dedicated to interesting architecture that I find while riding my bicycle throughout Atlanta. Visit the original post for more information on the series. You can also view all posts in the series by following this link.


TSL said...

James, people love what you offer here despite your busy schedule! I love this post, it is a prime example of why they do, certainly a treasure, this residence, and I am so happy you posted on it. Continued goodness your way. Tina

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to find your new post! I've been checking almost every day!
Your photos and commentary are wonderful. I love, love, love this Italian house. Thank you for showing it!

Glamour Drops said...

Very thoughtful observations - despite the time in between, your posts are excellent in their detail so well worth the wait!

Anonymous said...

Please tell us who designed this house.

Terry said...

Bravo. Fantastic. I think this is a great house. Thanks so much for the research. I never noticed it being on the market. The longer you look the better it gets.

It couldn't be more surprising considering where it's located. I salute client and architect, this took some nerve. This could very well be hidden in the Buckhead hills and forests. Still, for being so "out there" in a busy place, it seems so private. The little park on the corner really works. I've stopped there to walk it.

I've always liked the little development that is home to this house's driveway.

Lew Oliver has at least one house in Glenwood Park. Elsewhere in Atlanta?

Terry said...

Here is my post about it.

Acquired Objects said...

What a beautiful home and I can see why you're enamored by it the windows are amazing as well as the ironwork, lush landscaping, it’s really beautiful. I would have never guessed it was in Atlanta.

James said...

@Tina Steele Lindsey: Thank you.

@Anonymous: Thank you.

@Virginia Blue: Thank you.

@Anonymous: The house was designed by Lew Oliver. It was late when I was writing the post and forgot to include that detail. I just updated the post with a link to Lew's website.

@Terry: It was on the market for quite awhile and was featured in the Beacham Series a couple times. I think Blayne may have photographed it. We'll have to check with her.

The previous owner of this house was the developer of the little development you mention. I was told by the agent that this was their "city house."

Lew Oliver has work all over Atlanta. Check out his website.

Thanks for reminding me of your post on the house. I had forgotten about that. Funny how we're drawn to some of the same houses.

@Acquired Objects: Thank you. Atlanta has quite a diverse selection of architecturally interesting houses and they're spread over of many miles of beautiful neighborhoods.

Rodolfo Castro said...

Great post as always! This house has been a favorite of mine for some time. It has gotten so much better with age as the vines have grown on it and the brick and tile roof have gotten a bit of a patina on them...

James said...

@Rodolfo: Thank you. The real estate listing for the house claimed that the tile roof was "antique." I'm curious if that is true or not. Regardless, the tile has the perfect patina as you mention. It really makes all the difference too. New tile roofs just don't have the same charm.

Doug Davis said...

glad to have you back! have never noticed this home but will look for it the next time I'm in town...I like EVERYTHING about it. thanks for sharing the photos and your studied commentary, I always enjoy what you have to say.

Karen said...

Hooray! I'm so happy you're back. Even if you only have time to post occasionally I'll be thrilled.


What a stunner! It's hard to believe the location. I'll definitely be on the lookout for it next time I'm in the area. It's nice to see you back!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for this, have always been curious about this house as I drive by it on a weekly basis. Always thought it was an odd location but a beautiful home nonetheless. Look forward to reading more in your blog!

Capella Kincheloe Interior Design said...

Welcome back! Love the detailed photographs.

Anonymous said...

I am anxiously awaiting the interior now! Beautiful exterior.

Niki P. said...

I love that house! I drive by it all the time and stare at those doors and wonder what it's like inside.

Things That Inspire said...

That little neighborhood it is next to (part of?) intrigues me as well. Zero lots, but the houses seem quite beautiful and well situated - taking your Italian theme a bit further, almost like an Italian village where you have houses that each have their own character and are well defined, yet distinct.

Back to the house in the post - I remember seeing the interiors in a magazine a few years ago. Maybe the defunct Atlanta Home magazine (it was a few times a year publication, part of Atlanta Magazine).

That iron balcony - no way this passes code - kids would be falling off that balcony constantly (so would pets). I guess this is a better house for a single person or empty nester (without visiting grandchildren!).

James said...

Thank you everyone for your comments.

@Things That Inspire: The house is part of the development. The driveway comes in from the developement. The previous owners of this home are the folks behind Hedgewood Homes which developed the community.

I never thought about the children / pet factor of the railing. Form over function again!

ZoeB said...

Think I could cope with losing a few children/pets if I could have railings like that! They are wonderful and if they suited my home I might be tempted. I am looking to replace the railings at the front of my home as during the second world war railings were taken from most houses to make ....? not sure really, something military I suppose. During my research I have discovered that different areas of England had different designs.

Helen Young said...

Hi James -
Love this house and love seeing the earlier photos over at Terry's blog too. Architectural details (even inexpensive ones, do make all of the difference).

Paige @ traceryinteriors said...

Great post James! I love this home as well. It reminds me of traveling Italy with all my friends in school and my days in Atlanta! Both of which evoke fond memories.

paula said...

the windows are quite incredible. Really can't get over them.

Francine Gardner said...

I absolutely adore this house, the architecture, the materials, the details and the landscaping is just perfect!!

Nita Stacy said...

I just found your blog. I used to live in Atlanta so I'm enjoying seeing glimpses of it. I just became your newest follower.

John J. Tackett said...

Although not an Atlanta resident, I have noticed this exceptional house and wondered about it. Those "X" railings would not pass any standard building code I know of, however, despite being attractive. A very interesting post indeed.

Design Elements said...

fantastic! quality post!

Anonymous said...

I would love to see this house for myself. It's beautiful!


Leigha said...

There's just nothing better than ivy crawling up bricks. Lovely.


Katie Kirby said...

Such a beautiful home! I love how private it looks!

bedroom chandeliers said...

amazing how it seems to be in the middle of the forest, when it's just near an interception. now that is what i call creating a private surrounding environment

Andrea said...

The lovely small park adjacent to this house (at the corner of Phipps Boulevard and Wieuca) is actually owned by the city and maintained by volunteers from North Buckhead.

Urban Designer said...

What an awesome house! If I am not mistaken, this house was designed for the owners of Hedgewood Homes - Lew Oliver has not gotten the recognition he deserves - He has done work all over the world, you can see some of his work in Vickery, Serenbe, Glenwood Park, Seven Norcross

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