Designer Jan Ware Adds Bold Style to a New Build

With a little color and a lot of bold choices, designer Jan Ware adds custom touches to new construction, taking it from spec to spectacular.

The steel-framed front door opens to the entry where artwork by Michele James, a vellum console table, and an antique plaster bust foreshadow the interesting mélange of items throughout the house. Photos by Jean Allsopp

Finding a home with instant character usually means taking on a custom build or buying an older, updated home imbued with layers of history and patina. And finding that home in the neighborhood you want to live in can be as challenging as uncovering the proverbial needle in a haystack. Such was the case for these longtime, Atlanta-based clients of interior designer Jan Ware. “My friend and her husband had been wanting to build a house in Buckhead for years,” Jan says. But when a spec home became available on a desirable street, the couple nixed the idea of starting from scratch and decided to massage the finishes to suit themselves and their four sons. 

“The house was still in the very early stages of construction,” Jan says of the cottage-style plan designed by Amanda Orr Architects. Fortunately, that gave the couple plenty of time to step in and add their own touches. It also helped that Jan was willing to make the trek down I-20 from her Birmingham headquarters. 

Jan converted the home’s designated dining room into a sitting room because of its proximity to the wine cellar. Now the owners use this space for entertaining. The designer added drama and depth with wainscoting and a custom blue color on the walls that matches the Hermès fabric on the bolster and dining chairs. Other rooms are painted Snowbound (Sherwin-Williams). The settee and sofa, covered in outdoor fabric and performance velvet, are by Jan.
The sitting room’s walls perfectly complement “Fluttering” by artist Yury Darashkevich.

Still in the framing stages with David Siegel Design and Construction, the house was set to take on the classic, cottage architecture exhibited by the other homes on the street, but the owners wanted to move it in a more contemporary direction. With a few smart tweaks, Jan pushed the structure across the line by adding some striking appointments and dramatic finishes to create a California contemporary feel while still allowing the house to harmonize with its neighbors.

Architecturally, the designer introduced custom floor-to-ceiling, steel windows and doors across the front and rear of the house to open it up to the outdoors. She withheld ornate mouldings, opting instead for wide casings. Sheetrocked walls became canvases for color and drama.

- Sponsors -
The dining room houses a live-edge table with iron base. Chairs are bleached oak frames with brass detailing. The leather chandelier was handmade by women artisans in Africa. Lacquered vintage chests inset with brass flank the dining room window. Italian art deco mirrors and matching lamps put the spotlight on works by Arthur Price.
Every hour is happy at the built-in bar, which features custom black-plaster walls, sleek black cabinetry, and brass appointments, including the brass-wrapped shelf and gleaming hardware.

Jan also wasn’t shy about swapping rooms around. For instance, the dining room was much better suited as a sitting room thanks to its adjacency to the glass-paned wine cellar. “My clients host a lot of events, so I really concentrated on how all the rooms were going to flow when they entertained,” says Jan. With the exchange, the formal living room became the dining room, a welcoming space just inside the entry. 

Certain upholstered items offer transitional style while other pieces, such as the dining chairs and tables, lean midcentury modern. Contrasts and black accents play to the edgy look, giving the interiors depth while also emphasizing the gleam of metallic accents in the light fixtures, art, accessories, and furniture. As Jan explains, it’s that level of attention to every detail that made this spec house feel extra special. 

Mixed Metals: Jan created a jewel box-like powder room by hanging a dreamy, abstract wallpaper with the slightest silvery shimmer. Brass accents add even more shine.
Natural materials, such as the cedar beams, white oak shelving, live-edge sofa table, and polished wood bowl by Moulthrop Studios, bring the outdoors in. A seagrass rug underfoot grounds an assembly of brushed cotton and tweed upholstery—all performance fabrics.
Warren Platner-style, Italian chairs pair with a tulip table in the light-and-bright, eat-in breakfast spot overlooking the covered porch and pool.
Silver, gray, and white accents create a sublime scene in the master bedroom.
The tub enjoys sweeping views.

Clever Haven

A new collection for the home by Jan Ware

Designer Jan Ware is committed to turning homes into havens—those personal, private sanctuaries where owners can find respite yet also graciously welcome friends and family. She knows that it’s the curated mix of antiques, one-of-a-kind accessories, and classic comforts that truly bring warmth to a home. With Clever Haven, her new homes line, Jan’s favorite things can now become yours. 

1. Candles create a transformative experience. Try the Cereria Molla Bois de Santal 4 Wick Candle. It’s spicy, earthy, and sensual with a hint of patchouli and vanilla.

2. One-of-a-kind finds such as this antique Louis Philippe Commode with black marble top create storied rooms with individual style. 

3. This rattan mirror is equally at home at the lake or the beach. Try a pair above bedside tables for extra punch.

4. Vintage European bike tags offer color and invoke curiosity. 

5. A finial-shaped sculpture (or two or three) is always a statement maker on tabletops or mantels. The top of this 10-inch tall onyx piece lifts off so it can double as a container.

Jan Ware Designs:; IG: janwaredesigns

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!