Magnolia Park: In the Groove

- by

Magnolia Park midcentury home in Savannah, Georgia. Photography by Richard Leo Johnson

Thanks to the owner’s masterful eye, this Southside sun-drenched space in Magnolia Park (built by architect and designer John Ahern in 1956) has all the hallmarks of a modern millennial oasis: shearling accents, cow skulls, pet-friendly nooks, a bounty of plants and, yes, enviable closet space. As ever, it’s all about the mix — and here, original wood paneling, Savannah grey brick, and authentic midcentury furnishings are juxtaposed by of-the-moment visual art and accessories, throwing period style a curveball and bringing the Atomic Age into 2019. This fall, the owner, a prominent Savannah entrepreneur, sat down with us to share a bit of backstory on how she made her house a home.

On the thrill of the hunt: “I had been looking for two or three years and put a bid on a couple of homes that were gone in two days, but I wasn’t in love with them. Someone suggested this house to me, and I looked at pictures and said, ‘Yep.’ My Realtor said, ‘You haven’t even seen the house!’ But I didn’t have to. I had already planned out the entire house in my head. I instantly just knew. I couldn’t imagine moving out of downtown and never saw myself living on the Southside, but Magnolia Park is this hidden gem.”

On bold moves: “I made changes some people weren’t OK with! When I first came in, the ceiling was an off-white, and the beams were Cherokee red — a Frank Lloyd Wright color you’re not supposed to touch, and it had been like that forever. But it was too dark for me. In the kitchen, I painted the wood paneling, switched out the countertops, painted the cabinets and tried to brighten things up. I’ve never been a pink person before, but I kept the original pink General Electric oven, and the original GE freezer and fridge, too. I’m praying that they don’t break down. I replaced the original stovetop and put in a new dishwasher. The washing machine was next to the kitchen sink when I first moved in, and the dryer was in the utility closet. It was pretty funky.”

On collecting: “I had my Eames chair before I moved in. One really good find is my set of Milo Baughman dining chairs that I plan to recover. I like midcentury, but I don’t like everything to be midcentury. I have an eclectic taste when it comes to furniture in general. I like piecing things together. I got tons of furniture from Clutter and from a couple of places in Miami. I do a lot of traveling, so I pick up pieces along the way. I like vintage, antiques, anything that I can refurbish and turn on its head.”

On entertaining: “I entertain a lot. You won’t find me at the bars, but you’ll find me here hosting small dinner parties. Something I love about this house is that you can naturally move from outside on the porch to the dining room to the living room and back outside to the fire pit. The flow is a total vibe in it and of itself.”

My real estate agent said, ‘You haven’t even seen the house!’ But I didn’t have to. I had already planned out the entire house in my head.

On future projects: “There’s a hidden closet in the master bedroom that extends the length of the wall. My long-term goal is to blow the whole thing out and make a glass closet, pushing it out into the yard and retaining a bit of privacy by planting bamboo so eventually, the whole house will be encompassed in it. I’m also working on a glasshouse in the backyard as a third bedroom for guests. I was considering a pool, but with so many guests, both family and friends, a private guest room makes much better sense.”  

Youthful elements and on-trend materials pump up the vintage chic in a Magnolia Park midcentury. Photography by Richard Leo Johnson

On the best parts of her home: “My favorite accessories are things I didn’t purchase. They came with the home! The doors throughout the entire space have the original Soss recessed hinges and flush door levers. I also love the Savannah grey brick, the curved indoor planter, the enormous skylights, and the intricate wall paneling that everyone suggested I paint white — my instinct told me don’t mess with perfection. This house is both serene and a bit formidable, and it’s definitely private, a perfect place for creativity and inspiration. From certain angles, I could be in L.A. and never know the difference, but when you see the moss outdoors, you can’t forget you’re in Savannah.”


Year built: 1956

Year purchased: 2015

Square footage: 1,984

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, 1 screened-in porch

Time to complete renovation/remodel: 1 year

Architect/planner: John Ahern

Interior designer: Owner

Contractor/builder: Alchemy Restoration

Tile/flooring: Terrazzo and American slate

Paint: Benjamin Moore Simply White, Snow White, Classic Gray, Black; PPG Pittsburgh Paints Cherokee Red (front door)

Kitchen design: GE wall-mounted refrigerator/ freezer and pink GE oven, original to home; Bosch induction stove and Bosch dishwasher from Livin- good’s Appliances & Bedding

Bath design: Grecian tub, original to home Landscape and hardscape design: Keldric Brown,

Quality Lawn Care & Maintenance Electrician: Trinity Electric
Audio/visual: Bell Integrated Home Solutions

Furniture: Italian Pol-Flex Artegna lucite chairs, travertine coffee table, marble side tables and marble spherical lamps from Art Modern (Miami); saddle and ladder, Pace dining room table, Persian rug, lucite bar, bedside table and bedframe from Clutter; Milo Baughman chairs and dresser from Sandfly Antiques; Ron Arad Driade rocking chair and Moroccan rug from Jayson Home (New York); Eames chair from eBay; Fornasetti bench from Italy

Accessories: Animal skulls from Clutter; Rene Lalique dish, family heirloom; vintage lucite spherical building blocks from Gallery Vermillion (Miami)

Art: Art Modern (Miami), Clutter, Sobe Art (Miami), Jayson Home, homeowner’s personal collection