Poker Face

An Eastover couple changes the face of a Georgian home – if not in face, in style.

Natalie Homesley and her husband, David, had been waiting for the opportunity to move. They’d been living in their Eastover home since 2004, a neighborhood they loved, and while they enjoyed the home, the family of four had outgrown it. So when a house just down the street went on the market, Homesley jumped at the chance to take a peek. But she didn’t go alone. Having already fallen in love with architect Ken Pursley’s work after walking through many of his past clients’ homes, the Homesleys knew that if they ever had to renovate or build new, they’d enlist Pursley. “Every house that I’ve loved, Ken designed,” Homesley says, who relied on Pursley’s discerning eye to look over the for-sale home to see if it had potential.

After walking through the circa-1940s traditional Georgianstyle property, Pursley was convinced that the home was not a teardown. In fact, he felt it had strong bones and a deep enough lot that would allow for expanding without feeling overcrowded in the backyard. “It had a pretty face, and I loved the little wing walls on either side, unique and elegant,” he explains. Within a few days, the Homesleys went under contract. Pursley’s goal with every project is to maintain the integrity of the original home while also modernizing it and adding to the home without it feeling tacked on. “Georgian architecture has a bit of a poker face,” Pursley says. “It doesn’t tell you a lot about itself from the front versus a Tudor-style home that’s more gestural in style. Natalie and David liked that it was unassuming from the front but that there was so much potential in the back. 

I really wanted to walk the line of creating something that’s contrarian but also would be relevant fifty years from now.” Toeing the line between tradition and modern meant keeping the existing architectural details and proportions in the home and maintaining the original footprint but with the addition on the back to create a more open floor plan. “A lot of times architects go in and try to turn a house into something it’s not,” Pursley explains. “If there’s something that’s already working why undo it? I didn’t want to change it for change’s sake.” By painting the interiors the same color, it gave the home an edge and made it a little quieter and understated and, in some ways, more modern and less busy. The upstairs catwalk to the master bedroom in the back of the home was one area of Pursley’s design that really opened up the home and modernized it. As you pass over the bridge to the master bedroom, you walk by a dramatic wall of windows that are dressed with three-story-high custom draperies, an idea by interior designer Heather Smith of Circa Interiors.

“It creates this treehouse experience with lots of light, but it’s done in a mature way,” Pursley says. “Sometimes with a more restrained language with Georgian classical architecture, you lose some of those moments. So, I like that there are these emotional experiences within a fairly restrained architectural language.” To help bring to life Pursley’s architecture, the Homesleys reached out to Heather Smith of Circa Interiors, who had designed their previous residence. “We loved what Heather had done in our original home, and we knew we wanted her to work on this one,” Homesley explains. This time, though, the Homesleys wanted a moodier, darker interior that felt dramatic yet comfortable. Having installed the interiors on their last home, Smith was able to seamlessly transition those pieces into their new house. “We chose things that were truly timeless, which is why they work so well in this new space, too,” Smith explains.

The designer’s approach was to start with lighter interiors in the front of the home, and as you transition to the back of the home, you end with darker hues and furnishings – the perfect complement to Pursley’s dramatic architecture. With two young sons, the Homelseys needed function and comfort in not only the layout of the home but also the finishes. Concrete kitchen counters with a subtle mushroom hue are durable as well as complementary to the marble backsplash. Slipcovered double benches at the kitchen counter by Lee Industries “keep it cleaner and less choppy in the space,” Smith explains. The home is the result of both Pursley and Smith seamlessly weaving traditional with modern. “I like that there are these emotional experiences within a fairly restrained architectural language,” Pursley says. “The project felt successful because it all goes together, but it’s not boring or predictable.”