Orli Ben-Dor: Must be fun to have clients who are so adventurous with color — right?
Turner: We have a great relationship! The owners are Leah and John G. “Gee” Aldridge. She is a businesswoman and politician, and Gee is an attorney. I had just designed a bright, fresh beach house for them when they realized that their Atlanta home felt outdated. Gee was the one who decided it needed to be redone — Leah was initially hesitant. She loved her red living room and had collected so much over the years. When I promised to keep all of their favorite art, rugs, and furniture, we were in business.
Was it challenging to work with so many existing pieces?
In some ways, yes, but it turned out to be helpful in determining our scheme. We photographed everything they were keeping. When we laid out the images, we noticed color themes — blue in the rugs, rosy tones in the art. That became our palette.
The navy blue-lacquered dining room is a dramatic statement.
I’m a huge believer in creating rooms that have multiple uses. But this is a night room, and the weight of the velvet curtains just felt lush, like you’re wrapping yourself in a cloak. The artwork and saddle-colored leather dining chairs add warmth against the blue. That combination became a common thread in much of the house. Color is a great way to establish links from one room to the next, but it’s important not to be too matchy. There are variations on blue — deeper, lighter, brighter — throughout.
The red living room is history. How did you convince her?
Leah realized on her own that it was time to modernize the space. First, we painted the walls and trim a crisp white. I added two chandeliers, which help give the large room a more human scale. The sofas, which used to face each other, were there already — the family was attached to them for their comfort. I had them reupholstered and then broke up the pair to create two main seating areas in the room.
The alternating of dark and light spaces feels like a signature of yours.
I go dark with small rooms or evening rooms. Here, you have that beautiful, light living room and a study that’s really only used after work or on the weekends as a place to hide out and watch golf! I’ve been dying to do black grass-cloth walls for a client for a long time, and Gee let me do it. Grass cloth lends an earthy sense of comfort to a room, while black takes it to a new level of sophistication.
Things definitely lighten up in that gorgeous kitchen, though.
I like to evoke different emotions from room to room. With three children, the family obviously spends a lot of time in their kitchen, and Leah likes to cook. The island was designed with tons of storage; it holds silverware, pots and pans, and dishes. It eliminated the need for upper cabinets. The windows’ mullions were painted black, so they look like leaded windows —it’s an easy, inexpensive trick.
The powder room is small but exquisite.
It’s so tiny, we had to mount the faucet on the wall! But I made the most of it by decorating every surface I could get my hands on, including the door. I’ve always wanted to do a padded door, and I chose this beautiful blue faux leather that’s easy to clean — which is handy, because the kids use it daily.
And that floral dragon wallpaper! Sounds like despite her initial hesitation, this client was won over.
Once Leah was on board, she went for it. Just days after I presented my plan, she organized a house sale and cleaned out everything she didn’t want to keep. She did not hesitate. It was refreshing!
See more before-and-after photos of this home:
This story originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of CQ.