“An artist is not paid for his labor, but for his vision.”
Interior designer Stuart Pliner and wife Barbara Bing felt the timing was right to downsize from their 1920s Georgian Manor home where they lived for over 20 years on North Muscogee Avenue to high-rise living two blocks away.
Here Pliner gives us a rare look inside his private world, a careful tableau of responses to space, reflecting his creativity, tasteful design, and constant attention to scale and proportion.
“After thinking about it more and more, we felt the timing was perfect to do this project for ourselves versus an investment opportunity,” he said. “It met our key objectives of an original condo never renovated, high floor and beautiful views. We redefined our lives, ridded lots of unneeded “stuff” and set out for a new adventure in two different places. We traded one home for a condo in the city and a house in the country.”
Barbara added, “The concept of downsizing was refreshing, and we made it fun. That’s not to say that it was perfectly orchestrated and easy, yet it all worked … two different lifestyles, never needing to make reservations!”
Tune into the Pliner duo.
Marcia: How do you work as a team?
Stuart: Often great, … sometimes, not so great, but we always resolve in harmony, maximizing each other’s strengths.
Barbara: Stuart is a trained designer with incredible vision and impeccable taste. He has an uncanny ability to maximize every inch of space and understands the importance scale and proportion play in the design process. He recognizes there are clients who want to keep heirlooms and furnishings of sentimental value and is skilled at taking these older favorites and making them into new pieces.
Marcia: I’ve seen your work in high profile homes. Can you name names?
Stuart: We work on referrals and are sensitive about mentioning specific projects, except to say that we have done a multitude of projects in and outside Atlanta and out of state. While our focus is primarily residential, we have done a number of commercial and hospitality projects. We also participate in numerous show houses, most recently the 2020 Cashiers Historical Society Designer Showhouse and support many local events with ADAC [Atlanta Decorative Arts Center], Art Papers, and others. I have also contributed my expertise and time over the years, speaking on many aspects of interior design.
Marcia: Why did you select this particular location?
Stuart: We wanted to remain in the neighborhood located on a residential section of Peachtree. We chose the building for its iconic mid-century architecture. We chose our condo for the spectacular unobstructed views of west and north Atlanta, with 9-foot windows that were the inspiration for the design of our space. Here we were able to expand volume within the space without changing the footprint. We were also successful in maximizing space and storage by creating space within space.
Marcia: Elaborate on your art here.
Stuart: We collect special pieces and artists that make us feel good. Our home was designed to give prominence to our art. Some of the artists collected are Thornton Dial, Andrew Bucci, John Harvard, Jack Spencer, Will Clift and John Gibson to name a few. One of my favorites is the “The Elephant” by Kelly Fearing that we discovered at an estate sale.
Marcia: How would you categorize your furnishings?
Stuart: Transitional. Our goal was comfort, function and beauty with clean lines. Fabrics were selected for texture, color, and pattern and how they all work together. We used Romo, Lee Jofa, Phillip Jefferies, Jim Thompson, Pierre Frey, Schumacher, and others.
We like to mix eras: Circa 1920 lamps; Knoll high back leather chair, circa 1980; Arthur Brett vintage bench covered in Metaphores Paris cotton velvet horizontal stripe; A. Rudin tufted sofa, upholstered in Jim Thompson mohair fabric; Eames lounge chairs; and French pier mirror, circa 1875. Another favorite piece is a cocktail table custom designed by John Saladino. A must-mention is our custom designed Savoir bed, first experienced at The Savoy Hotel in London when we were newly married. I love wallpaper and I used everywhere it fit; and where I could not, used marble and porcelain. A consistent comment made by guests to our home is the unexpected of what they see and a sense of calm they feel here.
Marcia: You are quite the chef?
Stuart: Our kitchen is where it all happens, and custom-designed for the space. I love to cook. Barbara plans and we love to entertain ourselves and others. My two favorite appliances are our AGA stove, which anchors the kitchen and our Miele steam oven, which not only cooks great, but does its own cleaning too! We consider our OCHRE lighting fixture in our dining area as art and part of our collection. Anyone that knows us, knows we have a passion for food and wine that began during our first bicycle trip touring Bordeaux, Chateau Ducru Bueucaillou is a favorite. Others are Turley wines, and the namesake for one of our Westies: Turley Zin Peabody Pliner!
Marcia: How would you describe your role and vision as a designer?
Stuart: I only work on two to three projects at one time so I can give my personal attention to each one. I work in collaboration with each of my clients, understanding their objectives and how they want to live in their home. I love blending old with new, mixing eras, styles, colors, and textures, creating beautiful, timeless and comfortable spaces for everyday living.
Marcia: Last word on design.
Stuart: I am influenced by artists such Picasso, Stella, Rauschenberg, Hockney, and architecturally by Renzo Piano, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Gehry, John Portman, Neel Reid.
Most importantly, Mother Nature is my most prolific muse. It always amazes me what she can do!