Chai Style Home: Dose of Midtown Dash 
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Chai Style Home: Dose of Midtown Dash 

Philip Rafshoon and Robert Gaul have created a loft style condo in the historic 1951 Social Security Administration building that represents their lifestyle.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

  • Photos by Dark Rush //  Gracious hosts, Philip and Robert share the Midtown skyline view from their patio.
    Photos by Dark Rush // Gracious hosts, Philip and Robert share the Midtown skyline view from their patio.
  • Painting by Cuban artist William Acosta from the couple’s travels.
    Painting by Cuban artist William Acosta from the couple’s travels.
  • Collectables that appeal to Robert are at his desk. His own “Figure With Stick” drawing is on the right.
    Collectables that appeal to Robert are at his desk. His own “Figure With Stick” drawing is on the right.
  • Philip’s workspace mirrors Robert’s in their office study.  In the foreground, a Dora Maar vase (head) by Jonathan Adler. Left: Photo of Philip’s father, photographer Charles Rafshoon.
    Philip’s workspace mirrors Robert’s in their office study. In the foreground, a Dora Maar vase (head) by Jonathan Adler. Left: Photo of Philip’s father, photographer Charles Rafshoon.
  • Shades of aqua vintage glass from New York flea markets top the cabinets. The wine rack houses 120 bottles; globe fixtures are from Artemide.
    Shades of aqua vintage glass from New York flea markets top the cabinets. The wine rack houses 120 bottles; globe fixtures are from Artemide.
  • West side of the great room: graphite work by Atlanta artist Brett Smith.  Top left original photography: “Fish Gill” by Lisa Johnson. Flower by Atlanta artist Murphy Townsend. Center: Murano glass vernaise vessels etched with the couple’s wedding logo. Lavender plastic  “Dr. No” chairs by Phillipe Starck for Kartell. Pillows in forefront left by textile artists/designers Timorous Beasties of Glasgow, Scotland.
    West side of the great room: graphite work by Atlanta artist Brett Smith. Top left original photography: “Fish Gill” by Lisa Johnson. Flower by Atlanta artist Murphy Townsend. Center: Murano glass vernaise vessels etched with the couple’s wedding logo. Lavender plastic “Dr. No” chairs by Phillipe Starck for Kartell. Pillows in forefront left by textile artists/designers Timorous Beasties of Glasgow, Scotland.
  • In the great room, Robert repurposed the overhead lighting (circa 1965) from a church in Ohio. Philip’s love of books fronts gold wall covering by Innovations-Gilded Cork metal leaf on cork far wall.
    In the great room, Robert repurposed the overhead lighting (circa 1965) from a church in Ohio. Philip’s love of books fronts gold wall covering by Innovations-Gilded Cork metal leaf on cork far wall.

Some want the best of cosmopolitan Manhattan to settle in with the streamlined casual formality of Atlanta. Philip Rafshoon and Robert Gaul have created a loft style condo in the historic 1951 Social Security Administration building that represents their lifestyle. They know what they have, what it means, and from where it comes. There is process and craftsmanship that combines six white, circular light fixtures from an Ohio church with coffered cast concrete ceilings. In three months, they moved walls and made a sanctuary that is attuned to their “walk about” Midtown lifestyle.

Jaffe: Describe your role in Midtown and your former role in the retail bookstore.

Rafshoon: My work in Midtown began in 1993 when I opened Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse.  It became one of Atlanta’s most visible cultural centers and a landmark for the LGBT community, changing hearts and minds for a generation. After we closed in 2012, I went to work as programming director for the AJC Decatur Book Festival.

Since 2016, I have been the director of member engagement for Midtown Alliance, a nonprofit business and residential coalition that has been a driving force behind the revitalization of Midtown. I foster community by keeping our businesses and residents connected through events and programs.

from top down: hand colored vintage print, works on leather and wood by Robert Sherer.

Jaffe: What are you reading now?

Rafshoon: While out of the book business, I still love to read. I just finished Andrew Sean Greer’s “Less,” a hysterical novel that won a Pulitzer, and am starting on my friend Jessica Handler’s “The Magnetic Girl.” I am also in the middle of the fascinating final interview of legendary urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs.

Jaffe: You have a particularly illustrious family history in Atlanta. Tell us about your father and uncle.

Rafshoon: My family moved to Atlanta in the 60s and joined The Temple on Peachtree. My father, Charles Rafshoon, was a photographer, and my uncle Jerry Rafshoon had an ad agency. Jerry began working with and creating ads for Jimmy Carter. For Carter’s successful 1970 gubernatorial and 1976 presidential campaigns, my father was his campaign photographer. Jerry served as communications director in the White House. In the 80s, my Dad was the photographer for the Atlanta Jewish Times and covered virtually every Jewish event in the city. Mom, Charlotte, worked for many years as the secretary/ administrator for Congregation Or VeShalom. Between the two of them, if they didn’t know everyone in the community, they knew who they were.

Jaffe: When you designed the loft in 2014, what was it like decorating with Robert? Was he the creative engine?

Rafshoon: Robert was reared in Ohio and, coincidentally, his father is a retired photographer. Robert moved to New York City in 1980 and graduated from Parsons School of Design, department of architecture and environmental design. When we met in 1994, our life together in Atlanta began. We inherently both have an eye for photography.

Robert designed the loft and is always the creative engine. He has a natural eye for color and style and knows instantly what will work and what won’t. I put my two cents in every now and then, but we rarely disagree on what should happen in our space.

In the master bedroom, the “Raindrops” wall sculpture by Curtis Jere (circa 1970). Above the bed are two pieces that were purchased separately and combined. Wall paint is Benjamin Moore “Newport Blue.” Close-up of bedroom art

Jaffe: What types of other venues/projects has Robert designed?

Rafshoon: Robert is the principal of his company, Robert Gaul Architectural Design, with offices in Atlanta and New York.

His projects mainly include high-end residential homes in Atlanta, New York, across the country and internationally. In addition to residential projects, his work includes boutique retail, galleries, restaurants and contract spaces.

Recent projects include a 45-acre family compound resort with multiple homes in the British Virgin Islands and a 6,900-square-foot mountain home near Lake Tahoe. With most projects, Robert is involved at conception/pre-groundbreaking through final implementation of furnishings.

Many of Robert’s projects are for long-term clients for whom he has done multiple homes over the course of many years.  His marketing is all word of mouth.

The couple favors pinot grigio and full bodied cabernets. Art wall by wine. Oil painting from Hudson New York, photo by Harold Daniels, plate from Paris, sardine ceramic from Lisbon. Ink drawing by Provincetown artist Pat de Groot, 1961 (bottom).

Jaffe: Everyone uses the term “eclectic.” Give more detail on this label?

Gaul: “Eclectic” can sometimes be used as the go-to word to describe a room with a mishmash of furnishings. The beauty of a successful eclectic interior is deriving ideas and collecting objects from a diverse range of sources yet having an underlying theme or thread that ties it all together with a juxtaposition of styles complementing one another.

Jaffe: What do you collect?

Gaul: Be it a beautiful antique object or a funky piece of kitsch, we collect art to provide enjoyment. Much of our art is by contemporary, upcoming artists.  Gertrude Stein said, “One should collect art by good artists your own age.” Some we have are Robert Sherer, Jim Oliveira, Michael Gibson, William Acosta, and John Dowd.

Arranging fresh flowers is Robert’s forte. Background Japanese Tansu cabinet with Keyaki (elm) and Matsu (pine) wood. Saarinen dining table by Knoll with Arabescato marble. The wood chairs are from the Ohio Taft Estate. The plates are Fornasetti. Gourds on top (not visible) are from the Kusama collection.

Rafshoon: Many times while traveling (Cuba, Paris, Lisbon, Tel Aviv, Provincetown), we will purchase art for future hearkening of fond memories.

We also collect vintage Italian glass and, naturally, have a good collection of first edition and author signed books by, for example, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, John Waters, Erica Jong, Stephen Colbert, Edmund White, RuPaul, and Bette Midler.

Jaffe: Are you done adding to or changing things around? If you could wake up tomorrow and have one more “thing,” what would it be?

Rafshoon: We are never finished changing things. One new object provides change that leads to another.

If we could wake up tomorrow and have more “things,” it would be a steady bounty of flowers. We always have fresh flowers in the house.

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