Glamour Blends Artful Setting, Museum Magic
By Marcia Jaffe | firstname.lastname@example.org
A warm welcome emanates from Robyn Spizman Gerson and Dr. Edwin Gerson, a creative couple who crafted an oasis in the middle of Sandy Springs. “We merged our lives and created a home to embrace the things we love that define us,” Robyn said.
An accomplished author and publicist, she knows what she likes, where to acquire it and how to share it. The challenge was to blend Ed’s love of history and the origin of things he collects with her appreciation of sleek modern lines.
Robyn said with a laugh: “It’s the 21st century meets 1890. While we love our collections, a home is not only about things, but about people. We love to entertain and have our family and friends here often.”
Jaffe: You had quite a team in creating this house. What did they do for you?
Spizman Gerson: We were wowed by Bryan Kirkman’s interior design at the Decorator’s Show House. I loved his energy, vibrant use of color and lush fabrics. We needed someone to do a seamless job of pulling everything together; he buttoned it up and made it feel calm. The walls are gray tones, a backdrop that allows the art to shine. William Baker, author of “Great American Homes,” was our architect and a master at interpreting our vision.
Jaffe: When we enter the foyer, the curved staircase is a knockout.
Spizman Gerson: We wanted the first impressions to be that of an open penthouse. We wanted guests to walk in and immediately be able to see the expanse of the outdoors glowing from the rear windows with a backdrop of trees.
By the door we have a cubist-style Kimo Minton sculpture from Santa Fe. Then the huge head clay sculptures [Polly Cook] are placed throughout the house. They are half-black, half-white, dramatic, blue-eyed brunettes.
Jaffe: Yes, just like the lady of the house. I was fortunate enough to be a guest here for an intimate New Year’s Eve party, and it was evident that this is designed for entertaining.
Spizman Gerson: We wanted open areas for entertaining and more intimate areas in which to live. We like built-ins: places to write and work and enjoy the mirrored entertainment center. We want our home to tell a story around every corner. The huge photograph above the bar is a castle in Cuba [Michael Eastman]. There is a second master upstairs so visitors can be comfortable. We have a media room upstairs with space for grandchildren and toys.
Jaffe: Yes, dramatic photography shows so well with your other art.
Spizman Gerson: I research photographers I deeply admire who are highly collectible. “Chocolate Emulsion” is a suite of six photographs by Joyce Tennison, a legendary female photographer. We adore the photography of Kiko Guest, who was a former dancer in Atlanta. Another level of photography is the “blooming flower heads” throughout the house. It’s collaborative photography I designed with artist Thomas Gibson.
Jaffe: Your kitchen surfaces are so unusual and striking. Can you elaborate what your goal was in here?
Spizman Gerson: We started with the tigerwood cabinetry, rich vertical grains of brown and black providing a modern feel against all the white. I wanted the kitchen to flow with light, bright and clean lines, so we blew open walls. This counter surface is not granite but Hanstone, a man-made, indestructible stone. Note the silver flecks within.
Jaffe: I am getting a retro feel with your fixtures.
Spizman Gerson: We wanted to mix modern with a retro vibe. The dining room chandelier is circa 1950. Its ribbon effect is similar to the Murano glass sconces in the guest powder room we hand-carried back from our honeymoon in Santa Margarita, Italy, wrapped up delicately to survive the journey. The Greek Apollo head in the powder room is one of my favorites … an estate photo  from the cover of Robert Maplethorpe’s catalog.
Jaffe: Your collection of mercury glass is breathtaking.
Spizman Gerson: In times past, it was considered to be illegal because of the mercury content. It is very rare, fragile, and took years to collect.
Jaffe: The curved wall in the dining room is an architectural feat.
Spizman Gerson: It was Ed’s idea to display glass in front of the natural light and to curve the wall to add interest. The Totem Pole [Richard Jolly], Chihuly and Maslach’s “Hand of the Artist” boldly take their places here.
Jaffe: Your master suite is truly Hollywood.
Spizman Gerson: Entering you see the Sneiderman mixed-media painting titled, “Expectant Mother.” Over the bed is “Perfectionist” by Sara Hobbs [featured in the High Museum Collection]. We re-covered the vintage-1950 barrel chairs in irresistible velvet. We sought a spalike feel in the bathroom with his/her sides. White Carrara marble is the backdrop. The mirror tile panels over the tub create a reflective look.
Jaffe: Your downstairs is really whimsical!
Spizman Gerson (laughing): We call it Ed’s World. We agreed that I would decorate the main floors, and he would take over the lower level. It was my job to organize Ed’s massive antique telephone collection into a museumlike display. Add his merry-go-round horse, a cash register from his father’s clothing store and phones galore!
She added that they go to the Scott Market monthly. “It’s our tradition to walk the aisles, something I did with my mother for many decades. Ed and I learn from each other and love every minute of treasure hunting.”
The Gerson home is a masterpiece of passion, history and art. In what other house could you find a 1948 Atlanta phone book on display?
Don’t forget Molly, Ed’s coral classic 1956 Nash Metropolitan. Beep when you see them riding around.