Photography by Haley Lamb
A Riverwood Plantation couple enjoys the planning and design process of building a home as much as they enjoy the end results
Interior designer Brittany Wallace might spend most of her time in sweats or yoga pants, but there’s nothing she enjoys more than dressing up a home. In fact, the guiding principle of her business is “making the world a prettier place, one room at a time.” And that philosophy begins at home.
Brittany and her husband, Chad, moved into their Riverwood Plantation home in May of 2015, and they collaborated on the design and décor every step of the way. Something that Chad still can’t quite believe.
“I used to hunt and fish. Now we go to Atlanta and go to antique stores,” says Chad, who works at TaxSlayer. “I’ve been brainwashed. I never would have thought in a million years that I would care about things in the house, but I guess it just grew on me.”
Breaking the Mold
Funny how marriage can change things. Brittany, however, has construction and design in her blood.
“My dad is a dry wall contractor. He does lots of custom projects. That’s where my love for construction and design started,” she says. “I was the little kid that wanted to go on job sites with my dad.”
When the Wallaces were building their home, she visited the job site daily to see that every detail was executed according to plan. If a contractor told her, “I’ve never done this that way before,” or “This isn’t the way we usually do it,” well, let’s just say there’s a first time for everything.
“It’s great to have a vision or idea in your head and see it become reality,” says Brittany. “When it looks like it’s supposed to look, that’s even better.”
Her vision and creativity are on display throughout the house. While the furniture is a mix of contemporary and traditional styles, she has definite ideas when it comes to construction.
“I like traditional construction as far as details like molding are concerned,” she says. “I am a freak about trim and molding.”
For instance, all of the doors in the house have plinth block molding at the base, which Brittany says is “an old, traditional detail.”
In the dining room, the walls feature tall judge’s panels. Brittany originally intended to take the panels up to the ceiling, but she decided to put cove crown molding around the ceiling instead. The walls are dark slate blue-gray with silver detail in the pencil molding.
“I ended up repeating the color in several places,” says Brittany. “All of the interior doors are the slate blue color, but the trim in the house is white.”
The china cabinet is nestled in a recessed area along one wall. “You can have a china cabinet, but it doesn’t intrude on the room,” Brittany says. Arched entries lead into the room, and the dining room table has an inlaid design.
The table in the breakfast room belonged to Brittany’s grandparents. “It was one of the first pieces of furniture they bought when they got married,” she says.
Brittany was at her grandparents’ house when she was looking for furniture for their previous house, and she said, “I need something like this.” Her grandparents gave her the table.
The table is round, but it has two leaves that she put in to fit the space in their new home. She also added the leaves to lengthen the table because she wanted to put a settee on one side.
The built-in wet bar in the breakfast room includes corbels that extend from the bottom of the glass-front cabinets to the countertop. The backsplash features a diamond mosaic pattern with dots that match the color of the wet bar.
“Originally, I thought we would put a piece of furniture there, so I wanted to make the wet bar look like a piece of furniture,” says Brittany.
Classic and Creative
The stained heart pinewood flooring extends from the breakfast room into the adjoining kitchen, which is full of fun features and design details. The space includes glass-front cabinets, open plate shelving, granite countertops with a brushed finish, a farmhouse sink and a pot filler faucet.
A pewter glaze softens the look of the white perimeter cabinets. “We wanted it to look classic and timeless, but a little different,” Brittany says.
The hardware on the cabinets highlights her creativity as well. The hardware on one of the glass-front cabinets above the sink is shaped like a knife, and a fork-shaped piece of hardware opens the adjoining cabinet door. She reserved a special place for the matching spoon hardware – it’s on a lower cabinet door that shields the trashcan. “I like things that are fun and unexpected,” says Brittany.
The island features a marble countertop and panels with antique mirrors on one end. Brittany gave an aged finished to the pair of lanterns that hang above it.
Her father built the stovetop hood, which she designed and finished, and the marble backsplash features a herringbone accent. He also helped her build an archway in the kitchen. Although the archway resembles reclaimed brick, it’s actually made of drywall mud, paint and glaze.
“We wanted a brick archway in the kitchen that looked like the reclaimed brick outside,” says Brittany. “But reclaimed brick is so brittle that it’s hard to cut, so my dad and I made it look like brick.”
In fact, after their brick mason saw it, he thought it was made of real brick. “If you can fool a brick mason, that’s something,” says Chad.
A wine cellar room off of the kitchen originally was supposed to be a pantry and a garage closet. The space features a root ball light fixture, built-in wine racks, a wine cooler and two walls of cypress wood.
“We had gotten cypress for the porch ceiling, and we had some extra pieces. We wanted wood with knots and holes,” Brittany says. “I did a wash on the cypress to give it an aged look.”
In another change of plans, they hung a light fixture in the great room instead of a ceiling fan. The orb – which Chad calls a “disco ball” – features vertical strands of turquoise stones with a horizontal row of antiqued mirror pieces around the center.
“Lighting is a huge thing to me. I love it,” says Brittany. “I love the impact it can make in a room. It can make a space feel really different.”
The room also includes exposed ceiling beams, a mirrored entertainment center and a textured finish on the walls. The finish on the ceiling resembles vintage stucco or plaster, and the stone finish on the mantel looks like sandstone or limestone.
“After I planned the color palette and picked out fabrics, I realized I needed a warm color to go with all of the slate blue and gray,” Brittany says.
She chose coral accessories – from blankets to pillows to paintings – to accent the room. A barrel dog bed next to the fireplace offers a stylish spot for one of their three dogs – beagles Hunter, 11, and Stella, 7, or Shih Tzu Lilly Kate, 7 months – to curl up and take a nap.
The office has a masculine touch with accessories such as skulls on the wall, cowhide on the floor and, in a nod to Chad’s angling hobby, antique fishing lures. The pine walls have a grayish whitewash on them. “The office is a fun mix of rustic and contemporary,” says Brittany.
The master bedroom includes a four-poster bed, demilune end tables, mirrored dressing table and a ceiling fan. “You can’t sleep at night in the South without a ceiling fan,” says Chad.
Instead of bedside lamps, small chandeliers hang from the ceiling on either side of bed. “It frees up your bedside tables for other pretty things,” Brittany says.
No Tile Unturned
Tending to each and every detail in her designs, Brittany left no tile unturned in the bath décor. “I had a lot of fun with the bathrooms,” she says.
The master bath includes a freestanding contemporary tub, walk-in shower, double vanity, antique mirrored cabinet doors, marble countertops and marble flooring.
Although the six-paneled doors that are found throughout the house have lever door handles with an antique silver finish, Brittany added a different touch to the hardware in the master bath. She put crystal knobs on its six-panel doors and cabinet doors.
The powder room features white marble flooring with a marble basket weave rub and a clear vessel sink. “We originally had a white marble vessel sink, but it covered up the faucet,” says Brittany.
She wanted a “cool, different medallion” for the ceiling. However, when she couldn’t find anything she wanted, she created one of her own. She removed the glass from a mirror, attached the frame to the ceiling and hung the chandelier from the middle of it.
Each of the upstairs bedrooms has a walk-in closet and a private bath, and Brittany showcased her creativity and attention to detail with the tile in the bathrooms.
“Tile in bathrooms is so fun,” she says. “It’s something people forget or neglect.”
The inlaid tile in one shower has a basket weave design. Another bath features rows of vertical tile in the shower that extend to the floor and a matching tile backsplash arranged horizontally above the vanity.
“The more you do, the more you start to notice and appreciate all kinds of details,” says Brittany.
The home theater, which includes reclining leather theater seats, wall sconces and a star-studded ceiling, illustrates their attention to detail as well.
To create the “stars,” Chad used a rotary tool to bore 400 tiny holes in the ceiling from the attic. He drew circles around the tiny pinhead-sized holes so he could find them, slid fiber optics through the holes and glued them into place.
“It’s not all that difficult. It’s just meticulous, painstaking work,” says Chad.
The columns on the theater room walls were once doors in an old house where Brittany’s father had worked. To extend the columns from the floor to the ceiling, they added trim to the top and bottom of the doors.
The theater also includes a wet bar in one corner, which is accented with framed pictures of New York City and framed Broadway play posters.
“We love New York, and we like to go every year or every couple of years. We like to go to Broadway shows,” says Brittany.
The Wallaces also enjoy spending time on their covered porch. The space includes pine deck boards, a stained cypress ceiling, two ceiling fans, wicker furniture in a seating area and wood-topped table with an iron base.
On the Move
It would be understandable to think that Brittany and Chad are planning to stay in their home for a while. After all, it’s their fourth house in 11 years of marriage. But what fun would that be?
“When we designed the house, the two main things we had in mind were resale and Masters rental,” Brittany says.
Besides, they know the drill.
“We move every couple of years. We’ll wake up one morning and say, ‘Are you ready?’” says Chad. “I like drawing floor plans. I already have the next two houses drawn up.”
By Leigh Howard
Photography by Haley Lamb