Chai Style Interiors: Understated Glamour in Buckhead

Chai Style Interiors: Understated Glamour in Buckhead

By Marcia Caller Jaffe |

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The dining room is visible from the kitchen, where a crystal chandelier from Moss NYC adds the right amount of bling. (Photos by Ivan Ivanov)

Sara and Armand Harris are a vibrant couple who brilliantly showcase their carefully curated Mid Century furniture collection with modern fine art.

A total renovation of the 1960s home maintained its architectural footprint. Armand, a commercial Realtor, said: “There was nowhere to expand outside the existing footprint. We were fortunate to have our friend Bill Stewart consult on the architectural details and seek out special pieces for our newly designed space, maintaining the integrity of the era.”

Sara, who has an M.F.A. in sculpture, is a double entrepreneur in a creative agency (Quadras Integrated) and jewelry (Deux Filles). Because her eye is so trained, she selected every detail, from the colors of the hand-painted butterflies on the de Gournay silk curtains to her favorite collections of rare, colored, vintage Murano glass.

“I take the most pride in seeing all of my treasures gathered lovingly over the years artfully arranged on every tabletop throughout. … I am a stylist at heart,” she said.

Entering the house feels like taking a time machine into “Mad Men,” and I envisioned Diana Vreeland sitting on the curved sofa amid the Andy Warhol, zebra rug and life-size Barbie Polaroid. The stark white spiral staircase gives a Guggenheim feel and provides the perfect gallery backdrop for a modern 2015.

Jaffe: This foyer sets a playful yet soigné tone.

Sara: Our music room surrounds the piano. The Carolyn Carr painting was commissioned for the space. The furniture is by Platner for Knoll — seen throughout the house. The blue Post-Pop relief (Robert Melee) is positioned under a vintage Venini crystal chandelier. The wood floors are cerused, indicative of the Mid Century era. You can feel the texture contrasting the liquid marble “Smurf” (a folded swirl) by German artists Venske and Spänle.

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The loggia includes an Edward Wormley reissued Dunbar sofa and Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs.

Jaffe: The living room is spectacular — intimate yet light and open.

Sara: We treasure Robert Rauschenberg’s “Star Quarters,” a serigraph on mirror-coated Plexiglas, along with John Baldessari’s “The Studio,” a black-and-white offset lithograph with color screen printing. The bronze LaVerne cocktail table is Asian in feel (1960s).

Jaffe: Did you incorporate any sentimental family pieces?

Armand: The living room sofa was my mother’s (by Gilbert Rohde, a great example of American Modernism). The bronze poodle sculpture resembles Paris (the family’s black standard poodle, who tried to photo-bomb every picture). The driftwood lamp is from my family’s Tybee Beach house, which Sara reinvented with silver leaf on Plexiglas.

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Andy Warhol’s “Kimiko” dominates the entrance to the home, which also welcomes visitors with Robert Longo dancers and a Smurf floor sculpture at the base of the staircase.

Jaffe: This sideboard tablescape covers many continents and periods.

Sara: When traveling I try to return with a coveted keepsake like these jade pieces (India and China). All are displayed on vetted vintage furniture in its original state and not refinished. I feel as if the patina on the Maison Charles et Fils of Paris lamp tells its own tale that I am not the first owner; the Tommi Parzinger buffet from the ’50s evokes my Hollywood Regency fantasy when there were real movie stars. The Matt bone china from Rosenthal fits the period. The pastel dot painting is by Damien Hirst.

Jaffe: The ram’s head on the wall is startling. You could blow your own shofar!

Sara: A few of my favorite pieces in here are the Warhol “Kimiko” (the wife of the most comprehensive Pop art collector, John Powers) and Herb Ritts’ “Male With Tumbleweed.” The Barbie Doll large Polaroid format is by David Levinthal. The dining room furniture is by Saarinen (Knoll 1950s), the silver-leaf breakfront with carved bamboo by James Mont.

Jaffe: Quite a glamorously tailored, pristine kitchen! It reeks of mise en place.

Sara: I cook for my family mostly. … People always stop on the way to dinner, as we are geographically desirable! The backsplash is stainless steel positioned between the two vintage glass trees (1940s). The cabinets are stained gray matte, accented with basket-weave stainless insets. The German crystal chandelier (Moss NYC) adds just the right amount of bling that makes this kitchen mine since a little jewelry makes everything better. The overall look of the space was collaborated with my friend and esteemed kitchen designer Matthew Quinn.

Jaffe: The loggia (sunroom) overlooking the pool portends an Architectural Digest shot from old Hollywood.

A Carolyn Carr painting commissioned for the music room and a Platner for Knoll chair offset the piano in the music room.
A Carolyn Carr painting commissioned for the music room and a Platner for Knoll chair offset the piano in the music room.

Armand: Friends pile onto the Edward Wormley reissued Dunbar sofa covered in a family-friendly boucle, since we actually use everything. This is our real TV room, and the pair of Barcelona chairs were originally designed for the Mies van der Rohe (1929 Knoll) German Pavilion International Exposition. Nothing is off limits, including the Harvey Probber side tables, which hold beers for Georgia games! Everything here is beige, grey and taupe. Sara thinks it works visually with the colors she wears and finds it relaxing amidst all she is juggling.

Jaffe: Your master suite brings baby-boomer memories.

Sara: The photograph over the bed is from the original set of “Valley of the Dolls” I found in Palm Springs. “Three Stepsisters” is from Wegman’s “Cinderella Suite” (he’s famous for photographing Weimaraners in costumes). The chair is from Armand’s mother — transformed in a pale blush leather, adding a Pucci scarf pillow for impact. The lamp is vintage Tommi Parzinger (and a rare color).

Armand: “Marilyn” by Bert Stern — look closely to see the scar from her gallbladder surgery. The chandelier is Mercury glass from the 1920s.

Paris, the Harrises’ standard poodle, poses next to bronze poodle.
Paris, the Harrises’ standard poodle, poses next to bronze poodle.

Jaffe: The long, narrow view into the master bath is breathtaking.

Sara: Bill designed the custom furniture for the space; the vanity mirror is mint 1940s. The Murano glass pieces are atypical in lilacs and mauves.

Jaffe: Who is the fetching lady in the guest powder room?

Sara: 1960s French actress Anouk Aimée (William Klein) we purchased in Paris.

Jaffe: You both explode with creative energy. What’s next?

Armand: We bought an historic place on a square in Savannah and will utilize our French antiques currently in storage, which will be perfect there, and we’ll mix classic modern pieces for a “twist,” as Sara would say. Growing up there, I have roots, but it’s not the same place. It became a creative mecca; we have friends there who share our passions for collecting and the arts.

Jaffe: Armand, after all these years with Sara, what say you about her taste?

Armand: Sara has the most impeccable sense of style and is the epitome of good taste.

Sara: Armand has always been ultrasupportive. He exudes his own of style: Levi’s, white shirt and leopard Stubbs & Wootton slippers.

Jaffe: I’m aggravated I didn’t save my parents’ 1941 LaGrange furniture.

Photos by Ivan Ivanov

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