Homepolish designer Savannah Metcalf helped an NYC food editor shape a high school auditorium in Atlanta into the antique-infused apartment of her dreams.
Photos by Sarah Dorio.
Atlanta is known for a few things (hip hop, the Braves, the Coca-Cola headquarters, traffic), but to a space-strapped NYC resident‚ the headline advantage was room. Julia Bainbridge’s goal: to indulge her previously cooped up whims with a minimal, eclectic interior that flipped the city’s signature classic, new regency style on its head.
“I wanted to live large while I could,” Julia shares. “I mean that literally: I wanted big, open rooms! It’s a great dinner party apartment—and I have lots of those.”
To help that space—which, oh, also used to be a high school auditorium—become an entertaining destination, she called on Homepolish designer Savannah Metcalf.
“The building, which dates back to the 1920s, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” Julia tells us. “The Bass Lofts used to be Bass High School, and the rooms still embrace their past lives; I live in part of what was the auditorium, which is why my ceilings soar so high.”
Julia knew her move was temporary (she’ll boomerang back to NYC eventually), so she wanted a design that celebrated the tall, sky-high ceilings and expansive floor plans she wouldn’t have found in her former Brooklyn neighborhood. Savannah was up to the challenge.
“I’ve designed several lofts, but never one that is inside the original theater of a former high school,” Savannah explains. “The space has so many strange and awesome features—the client’s master closet is the old AV Room.”
To twist the vibe from high school hangout, Savannah leaned into her client’s lifestyle—and her propensity to the avant garde.
“Julia is an editor, and she does a lot of reading and writing,” Savannah shares. “There isn’t a TV in the space, so the lounge and dining areas are designed for conversation. She also entertains a lot, and her book collection in the dining space is definitely a conversation-starter!”
After establishing what Julia needed, Savannah pushed her on what she wanted.
“She tested me on the first day to see how weird I was willing to get by showing me those shiny black Panton chairs on her computer,” Julia recounts. “The answer: very weird. We were both excited to work together from then on, knowing that we were both willing to go for it. I had already bought that Parsons dining table, and I loved how those chairs paired with it.”
“Weird” but not without a reason. Like many writers (cough, cough), Julia has a soft spot for the sentimental, which meant she was on the hunt for beautiful vintage and antique pieces that had a story to tell.
“Like myself, my client is also super passionate about vintage, antique, one-of-a-kind finds,” Savannah explains. “We had a lot of fun collaborating on the use of several really funky pieces.”
Savannah paired the patina with industrial textures and clean lines.
“Most of the pieces of furniture and artwork are vintage, but they are punctuated by modern pieces with really interesting silhouettes,” she explains. “The wooden ‘ball’ coffee tables and stark black Panton chairs, and the oversized concrete ‘nightstand’ contrast the many antiques in the loft.”
The clean and collected vibe wasn’t Julia’s natural setting, but she felt that it was the best to match the unique structure of the loft.
“My style changes—I have a taste for a lot of different looks—but for this space, I wanted to keep things pretty neutral and minimalist,” says Julia. “My former apartment in Brooklyn was intensely colorful and feminine, which suited the tiny space—it was like a little jewel box. But since this space is airy and full of light, I wanted to keep the décor simple, gender-neutral, and, honestly, a little more grown-up.”
“Bright colors aren’t appropriate for every design project,” she tell us. “Julia has a really sophisticated eye, and we wanted to focus on subtlety. We also wanted the color in her artwork and book collections to speak the loudest, so decor-wise we opted to only include color in the vintage Persian rugs.”
That clean, muted look is showcased especially in Julia’s bedroom. With select sculptural accents and a neutral color palette, Savannah shaped a sleeping space that felt zen and considered, while meeting Julia’s needs.
“The bedside table upstairs was a sore spot for me,” shares the client. “I had a dinky table that didn’t make use of all the space there; the whole corner felt dead. Savannah came up with a solution to two problems (the lackluster corner and the fact that I didn’t have a desk) that I never would have thought of myself—suggesting a larger, round table that could double as a work space (and, frankly, storage for my stacks of nighttime reads). Combined with that sconce and a chair that I can pull up to the other side of the table, it’s one of my favorite areas of the apartment now—but there are a lot of them!”