Chai Style Home: Young Family Honors the Original with Seamless Retrofit
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Chai Style Home: Young Family Honors the Original with Seamless Retrofit

Lauren and Mark Chekanow honor the original craftsmanship of their Candler Park retrofit after a nine-month process.

Marcia Caller Jaffe

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).

  • The Chekanows are proud to show the original drawing of the Candler Park home they rebuilt in nine months using much of the original material.
    The Chekanows are proud to show the original drawing of the Candler Park home they rebuilt in nine months using much of the original material.
  • Lauren selected an eclectic orange fabric for the comfy sectional. The credenza houses antique dolls and clock.
    Lauren selected an eclectic orange fabric for the comfy sectional. The credenza houses antique dolls and clock.
  • The guest bath counter is made from recycled wood. The light fixture was the first item the couple bought for the project.
    The guest bath counter is made from recycled wood. The light fixture was the first item the couple bought for the project.
  • The spacious kitchen has stainless steel fixtures and Lauren’s specially-selected quartz transported from New Jersey.
    The spacious kitchen has stainless steel fixtures and Lauren’s specially-selected quartz transported from New Jersey.
  • The art room overlooks the outdoors and has ample storage for toys in cubbies made from reclaimed wood, old windows and tin panels.
    The art room overlooks the outdoors and has ample storage for toys in cubbies made from reclaimed wood, old windows and tin panels.
  • Photos by Laurie Sermos // Lauren and Mark Chekanow relax on the repurposed wood stairs in front of the brick wall that was restored from the original fireplace.
    Photos by Laurie Sermos // Lauren and Mark Chekanow relax on the repurposed wood stairs in front of the brick wall that was restored from the original fireplace.
  • The couple wanted to “mix up” the dining room with new and old: a birdcage, grandmother’s china and a rug from West Elm. The two photos are the couple’s originals taken while road-tripping across France.
    The couple wanted to “mix up” the dining room with new and old: a birdcage, grandmother’s china and a rug from West Elm. The two photos are the couple’s originals taken while road-tripping across France.
  • Mark inherited this original painting of Humphrey Bogart, “Play It Again Sam,” by Ferdie Pacheco, Muhammad Ali’s “fight doctor.”
    Mark inherited this original painting of Humphrey Bogart, “Play It Again Sam,” by Ferdie Pacheco, Muhammad Ali’s “fight doctor.”
  • A faux cow print bench sits alongside a bar constructed from an old door with an ice storage cabinet. Lauren saw the idea of a bar with an inlaid ice bin, and worked with a reclaimed furniture carpenter to design it using an antique door, custom-formed galvanized steel trays and glass panels.
    A faux cow print bench sits alongside a bar constructed from an old door with an ice storage cabinet. Lauren saw the idea of a bar with an inlaid ice bin, and worked with a reclaimed furniture carpenter to design it using an antique door, custom-formed galvanized steel trays and glass panels.
  • Lauren and Mark bought this original Buddha in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
    Lauren and Mark bought this original Buddha in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
  • Crimson paintings by Bordeau Macio share a front entry wall.
    Crimson paintings by Bordeau Macio share a front entry wall.
  • The sun porch looks out on fig, blueberry, pomegranate and lemon plants. The family also rents chickens.
    The sun porch looks out on fig, blueberry, pomegranate and lemon plants. The family also rents chickens.

Lauren and Mark Chekanow studied the craftsmanship, process and details leading to the demolition and rebuilding of their Candler Park home. This “new generation” couple had the insight into how to rear children in a meticulous architectural restoration in which the house was essentially rebuilt with upgrades. One wall at a time, each piece captures the feeling of world treasures from faraway places with textures and the richness of materials.

Both University of Florida “Gators,” the Chekanows escaped Wall Street and Madison Avenue to settle here. Mark is director of investor relations at SWM (Schweitzer-Mauduit International), and Lauren heads the Marcus JCC Intown Outreach for Young Families.

“Our goal was to have an open, inviting space with a good entertainment flow and the ability to see throughout. … Our children and their friends love to play outside and we wanted an easy indoor/outdoor feel where we could see all the outside activity from anywhere in the house,” Lauren said.

Marcia: What is the history of the home’s project?

The spacious kitchen has stainless steel fixtures and Lauren’s specially-selected quartz transported from New Jersey.

Mark: We began in 2013 and completely tore down everything to the foundation by working closely with Richard Stevens, our architect, and Century Craft Homes, our builder. And interior designer Chelsea Dunbar helped us incorporate and bring all of our ideas together. It only took nine months. Many of the original elements like bricks and fireplace structures were taken off site and rebuilt in what you see here. The wood steps are reclaimed from the original house. Even the hinges on the cubbies in the art room are recycled.

Marcia: How did you work together as a team?

Lauren: Mark has a strong voice and leans towards bolder colors than me. I am more classical. So, I kept him from going overboard and we met in the middle. He likes orange where I temper it with gray and pale blue. Ultimately, we like the same things.

Mark: Lauren is the project manager, and I’m in charge of sourcing, which means anything from the copper kitchen fixtures from eBay to finding unique vintage items at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, to getting great deals on high-end brands on Amazon. Great efforts were made to restore things like the huge 20-foot exposed steel beam that separates the kitchen from the living room. It was brought in by a commercial crane. It was one of the first structures to come in that we built around.

The guest bath counter is made from recycled wood. The light fixture was the first item the couple bought for the project.

The guest powder room console is from reclaimed wood from the original floor system. We found an amazing carpenter, Justin Rishel, who built several custom pieces. It was really fun to brainstorm, sketch ideas, and see him bring them to life using all reclaimed materials. Also, we like to patronize merchants where some profits are plowed back into charitable endeavors.

Marcia: Describe your back yard.

Lauren: We wanted an indoor/outdoor feel. Beyond the screened-in patio are the tree house and garden, where often blackberries, strawberries, broccoli, pomegranates, Meyer lemons, tomatoes and figs grow.  It took 50 dump truck loads to flatten the dirt grade.

Marcia: What did you want your décor to “say”?

Lauren: We collect art from all our travels: China, France, Spain, Italy, Arizona. The Buddha came from Chiang Mai, Thailand. We’ve gotten into some fun ‘pickles’ getting artwork home, especially from a long trip through Europe.

We have some shabby chic things: a birdcage from a garage sale, the horizontally-placed door that is the bar and handily stores ice. The framed butterfly drawings were from an old French textbook that we bought at a street market in Nice, France, which we then had a local art shop frame. A clay-fired mask from Sedona is next to a Dali.

Mark: We mixed it up. Rug from West Elm, chairs from IKEA, and Lauren’s great- grandmother’s Gold Symphony china, which we actually use. The dining room is very transitional from old to new. We like a blend, so things are changeable.

Marcia: What goes on in the kitchen?

Lauren: I used to have a specialty dessert business.. Now I cook primarily for family and entertaining. I spent a lot of time selecting just the right counter quartz from pictures of slabs. I wanted something in my color palette that was calming, earthy and not too busy. We had it driven down from New Jersey.

The art room overlooks the outdoors and has ample storage for toys in cubbies made from reclaimed wood, old windows and tin panels.

The adjacent arts and crafts room, our “mudroom,” has built-in counters with old tin sheets pressed into recycled window frames.

Mark: The screened porch is used for book club meetings and as an entertainment gateway to the outdoors. The furniture is from AuthenTEAK and Angel Market in Decatur.

Marcia: What’s very unique art-wise?

Mark: My grandfather gave me this original drawing of Humphrey Bogart entitled “Play It Again Sam” by Ferdie Pacheco, Muhammad Ali’s ringside “fight doctor.” Also, the crimson oils were from a small boutique in Bordeaux, France.

Lauren: We bought a very unusual copper, curved roll sculpture at a gallery in West Palm Beach. It was originally over our master bed, but had to be moved as I was concerned it could fall in the middle of the night!

Marcia: What are your most unusual, bizarre repurposed items?

Mark: The light fixture with Edison-style bulbs over the bar is constructed from an old chicken feeder.

Lauren: I think it’s pretty cool that we rent real chickens. Can’t get more practical and bizarre than that!

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