Downton Abbey a la Old South

If I had the opportunity to host Lord and Lady Grantham and their daughters and of course the Dowager Countess too, I would hope they could feel right as rain and completely at ease in the Butler’s Pantry at the ASO Decorators Showhouse.

Whatever would I do without the amazing talent and charm of Mrs. Maggie Griffin?! I am quite the lucky man to have TWO Maggie’s – a sister and a BFF! Growing up together in Hawkinsville, we share a reverence for classic style and tastes such as chinoiserie, blue and white china, fun color and a gorgeous table setting. Besides, it is just too much fun to work with someone so talented – I love learning from her and she tolerates working with me! Ha! I needed a helping hand for this showhouse and thankfully Mrs. Griffin answered the call!

The home itself is reminiscent of the fine homes dotting the Atlanta landscape and those English manor homes such as Highclere Castle, where Downton is filmed. A Philip T. Shutze design, the home boasts fabulous Georgian architecture, balance and scale, deliciously proportioned moldings and built-ins, and now, thanks to Design Galleria , a modern kitchen (that this Farmer would give his eye-teeth for) and baths. Open through May 13, 2012, the showhouse is worth traipsing to Atlanta and soaking in the multifaceted design schemes throughout the home.


I channeled my inner Anglophile and ardently embraced my Southern heritage and filled the Butler’s Pantry, which the family who once resided in this home would use as a family dining room or casual dinners, with collections of collections that we Southerners share an affinity for. Blue and white Canton-ware, blanc de chine and creamware and white Limoge china with gold rims yet complemented with blue plaid linens, stacks of cookbooks from every Junior League and Lady’s Sunday School Circle throughout the last century, French chairs with their luscious original blue velvet, a divine Oushak rug, and oils depicting the finest of England’s bucolic farm land in gold frames. A nineteenth century lantern from Foxglove Antiques and Galleries commands from the ceiling with all its verdi gris glory and newly framed pages from an antique book of ornithology depicts eggs now set in birch frames.

David Austen garden roses scent the room with a floral/citrus/spicy scent and opened to saucer-sized blossoms down the table. Hydrangeas and terra cotta jardinières from one of my favorite haunts, Boxwoods, spill from planters and tureens and bring the garden indoors. Black, nearly lacquered, Chinese Chippendale chairs anchor the host and hostess ends of the magnificent Italian farm table from Beckett Antiques. I love the contrast of the rich patina that glows from this table and the black chairs anchoring either end – all connected with blue velvet!

Anyone from upstairs or downstairs I hope would relish the opportunity to sit at our table in the Butler’s Pantry. Whether Lady Mary or Daisy was joining this Farmer for supper, I would surely show some true Southern hospitality in this room – or in any Southern home, at any Southern table for that matter. This space just happens to be that fun mix of English, Continental and Southern flair for this fantastic showhouse. Come one, come all!

PS… one of the great perks of working with Southern Living is meeting wonderful photographers at the photoshoots. Enjoy these pics from the darling Emily Jenkins Followill I met at one our shoots– she’s a delight and she captured the room perfectly! Another Southerner herself, this gal knows how to capture the feel of a room. Thank you my dear!