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Curbed Inside: Touring an Expanded, Modernized Lake Claire Gem

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How one Atlanta firm blended a contemporary addition with design from the 1980s

Ahhhh ...
Photos: Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

To Atlanta's devout architecture snoops, this curvy two-story residence from 1987 at the cusp of Lake Claire Park may look familiar. Architect Dan White, who still lives nearby, designed this late-century modern and a few others as a departure from traditional styles that line Lake Claire's leafy streets.

But by 2011, this anomaly on a dead-end street was beginning to show its age, and thus lingered on the market for months.

Its current owners saw potential in the wavy facade and primo location, however, and after a few years of visioning, they brought in Atlanta's Dencity architecture firm to modernize and expand the property in a mellifluous, exhilarating way.

The results can be seen as part of this weekend's MA! Residential Architecture Atlanta, which will showcase more than a dozen modern houses around Atlanta (and Serenbe) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Others are in Old Fourth Ward, Morningside, and beyond.

In advance of the tour, homeowners Stacey Collier and Mark Nevins played gracious hosts, explained the addition's logic, and previewed future usage plans. The project, which wrapped in August, boosted the four-bedroom, three-and-1/2-bathroom home's square footage from about 2,700 to 3,200, and it succeeded in seamlessly fusing Reagan-Era and cutting-edge design.

The property circa 2011, as seen in a previous listing.
The property circa 2011, as seen in a previous listing.
The repainted and re-landscaped facade. Dencity's Bryan Russell wanted the new addition to contrast the exiting house in form, material, and color. The original house, he says, was such a strong design that trying to copy it would have cheapened it.
The fireplace was upgraded but the home's original curvature remains.
Big expanses of glass (plus clerestory windows and large screens) were an emphasis throughout the expansion, capturing the pool area and nearby woods. "We wanted as much glass as could fit," says Stacey Collier.
The flowing, dual-sink kitchen juxtaposes white cabinetry with darker soapstone countertops and white quartz. Appliances are Jenn-Air. Collier describes the previous kitchen as "very cottagey."
Views from the kitchen stretch into woods beside and behind the house. Cottagey no more.
An adjoined breakfast nook.
The master bedroom, which retained the original sloped, curved ceiling.
The master bathroom incorporates one of two original skylights in the house.
A new addition (and work in progress, from a functionality standpoint) is this rooftop deck, which could easily host 30 people. Future plans could include an herb garden and large outdoor TV.
The deck overlooks the saltwater pool, revived landscaping, and modernized hardscapes. Explains Russell: "There is a huge privacy issue with the three-story house next door, so I tried to focus the house towards the pool and park in the back and right side of the property. I created a high privacy wall on the roof deck that became an architectural element of the back façade and allowed them to have parties or casual gatherings on the deck in private ... We used cable rails on the other two sides of the roof deck to allow views to the pool and park."
Below the deck is this new screened porch (with a popular, swinging pod chair) that allows for nearly year-round, insect-free use. Common materials flow throughout the addition to blur the line between old and new.
"We didn’t want to mimic the original design yet they wanted something very modern," explains Russell. "So we went with very straight, strong right angles."

[Other credits: Landscaping: Scott Reinblatt of Big Blue Sky Landscaping. Contractor: Kelly Thacker, Team Effort Construction.]