Welcome! You’ve made it to this, the 6th installment of READ. You’re comfortable with my inability to use commas correctly, you’ve accepted the level of snark and hopefully you’re both in it for the long haul and down for more questionably relevant music video links.
Eat, Stay, Love will be a regular segment focusing on what to eat, where to stay and what we love about a different city with each installment.
For the last several weeks, we were on site in Atlanta working on two projects ITP. That’s 'inside the perimeter' for you non 404, 678, 770 folks. Having grown up outside of Atlanta and calling it home at times, I had many preconceived notions about what the time spent in town would be like. We strolled the beltline and we power-walked Piedmont Park. We survived the I-20 and I-85 detours and we ate a shameful amount of frosted oranges from The Varsity.
For a moment, we were starting to forget the smell of pluff mud at low-tide.
If you too find yourself in Atlanta, outside the confines of Hartsfield Latoya Jackson Interagallatic Spaceport and Nail Emporuim and you're hungry, thirsty, or without fabric, furniture or inspiration, have I got the guide for you.
First, you should feed yourself. You are a total grump when you are hungry and Atlanta ain’t having none of that!
Think about eating at Bacchanalia if you have no budget and want to do something very Atlanta. A culinary landmark since 1993 (99’ in its last location), their new digs alone look like reason enough for splurging at this celebrated spot.
Consider, instead, your looming mortgage payment and think about The Optimist, not far away and also in West Midtown.
I dig everything about the interior and I like the no frills approach to what is really a pretty down-to-earth menu. The food is fantastic, but this blog is about interiors, and that’s what you’ll fall in love with before you eat your first oyster there.
I am aware that these are not ground breaking Atlanta food recommendations, but rather tried and true spots that you never have to think twice about. I could also add Two Urban Licks and Taqueria del Sol to that list.
Stay in and around midtown. It could be argued that some of the best hotels are in Buckhead, but if you’re drawn to Buckhead as a destination, I’m guessing I lost you as a reader several weeks ago when I suggested that you change the color of your grout on your own….and cook for your own dinner party. Don’t get it twisted, we’ll stay at The Saint Regis Buckhead any day, but car-centric Buckhead makes it hard to get a feel for Atlanta at her tree-lined, craftsman-home-having, glass & metal-high-rising, Piedmont Park-ing, cultural best.
Far more interesting are neighborhoods like Edgewood, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward and Grant Park which are treasures, though their hotel options slim. A stay in midtown puts you close to many of Atlanta’s neighborhoods that need to be explored. Hop on and off the belt line and see for yourself. It has transformed the city, challenging the status quo and driving up real estate values as it presses forward.
That said, there is this tree house in Buckhead that I've always wanted to stay in. Apparently I am not alone, as it's the most desired Air-bnb property.
Lots to love about a city that’s given us Coca-Cola, CNN, Civil Rights Heroes, Chic-fil-a and Baton Bob.
I’m loving the work of R. Land. Pray for ATL has got to be one of the best pop art campaigns to ever come out of Atlanta. The man behind the prayer hands couldn’t be a more interesting person and celebrates the new-comer melting pot that Atlanta has become in brilliant ways. If I had it my way, every project would have their own set of Pray for ATL prayer hands.
You’ll also love the High Museum. Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, opens June 3rd and you best believe we will be there when we are back in Atlanta this summer.
You may love West Midtown.
I’ve always had a heart for West Midtown, which somehow has both an up-and-coming and she-done-already-done-had-herses feel to it. Walking south near Howell Mill, there is a goat farm from which you can see a three-story Room and Board store. The juxtaposition of old Atlanta and new. Looking across the street, you squint, thinking to yourself, “that is an Anthropologie.” Crossing the street, you notice sidewalks, nostalgically peppered with random chicken bones, but there in the distance, you see the beauty that is Sid Mashburn.
There is not an occasion for which one could not dress themselves at Sid Mashburn. Their sales people are beautiful and brilliant, their interior flawless and they know it. But, not in that way that is obnoxious. They are cooler than you, but they don’t have to tell you that. And by you, I certainly mean me, too.
They have tailors on site, the most thoughtful offering of accessories and small goods you can imagine and they have a firm handle on what will look good now and stand the test of time.
Try convincing yourself you don’t need everything in the store, or that Sid’s salesmen don’t look badass and chic with their above-the-ankle-pant-break.
Tucked not far off Howell Mill Road are two other must-stop institutions on the Atlanta design map, Forsyth Fabrics and Lewis and Sharon Textiles. As a kid, I spent countless hours here with my mom parsing through aisle after aisle packed with bolts of fabric. If you are seeking inspiration for a project, between the two of these places, you are bound to find the inspiration you’re after. If instead you know exactly what you’re looking for, chances are they’ll be able to snag it for you. Lewis and Sharon tends to be more forward-thinking in their selection and is often where I find fabric that best fits my clients' and my own taste.
You’ll really love Scott’s Antique - second weekend of every month and worth the trek.
Need a taxidermy zebra bust? Are you hoping to find a full size 1950's vinyl upholstered lunch counter? Searching for boxes of old Nat Geos? (I could go on…) Between the North and South buildings, you will find the most eclectic mix of antiques, furniture, upholstery, rugs and art running the gamut from true treasures to just plain junk.
Scott's is where I find a lot of unique, finishing pieces that give the room a sense of place and a sense of history. I love using vintage school room maps to do just that and Scott's has several vendors that carry them.
Unlike a lot of antique malls and shops, filled to the gills with walls of chalk-painted dressers stripped of their hardware, Scott’s tends to attract many vendors with a real commitment to and knowledge of their niche. Though there is plenty of hobby-level/DIYer pieces sprinkled throughout, you’ll find that there is a great variety of original antiques, quality reproductions, original art and straight-from-NC upholsterers that come and present their wares each month.
Here are some of my favorite finds from some recent trips:
Scott’s is a lot of fun - I have lost track of time and money there more often than I haven’t. If you’re into interiors that are collected and thoughtful with fun, vintage items, then you will be among your people.
The diversity of what’s available is a great way to open your eyes and shake up preconceived notions you may have about your own space, or a project you’re working on. Quite often, we institute rules for our spaces, whether conscious or not. We decide what is and what isn’t allowed. We set these same rules for ourselves, too. Sometimes the rules are of our own creation. Other times the rules we have set for ourselves are silently adopted as we grow up and aren't questioned until years, maybe decades later, as has been my experience.
To spend a day walking through Scott’s is to blow up your ideas about what is and what isn’t allowed in your space and to see all the possibilities - every color available in the biggest box of crayons there is and a hundred examples of coloring way outside of the lines, using every last crayon!
This visit, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Carson Kressley whose whole career, really, is all about telling people to go for it when they need to hear it the most. The only hard rule he embraces is that it's got to be fun, and maybe it's got to push you a little bit out of your comfort zone, too.
Scott’s Antique market is the second weekend of every month. Plan your trip, eat some great food and get to breaking all those rules you’ve set for yourself. No guarantees that you'll run into these two though.....