Jewelry designer Mark Edge creates one-of-a-kind accessories in his Midtown Atlanta studio. On the weekends, he travels all over the world to antique stores in search of treasures. When Mark purchased his 4,400-square-foot 1909 craftsman home, he was determined to adequately display each and every one of his pieces. "Although the entire house showcases my collection, no room does it better than the library," Mark says. To get the remodel started, he hired Amy Wikman, an Atlanta-based interior designer and owner of Bjork Antikt & Studio.
"I'm a collector of just about every kind of antique there is, but over the years I've been most attracted to mid-century pieces," Mark says. "Amy and I agreed that the house was a big, heavy, dark antique and we wanted to play off that." The project took 18 months and Amy was perfect for the job, since she’s an antique expert who has as much experience with restorations as she does with renovations. "She loves my jewelry and I love her interiors," Mark says.
In its existing state, the room left a lot to the imagination. It was really hard to picture the old space as a sophisticated library. The wallpaper was peeling off the walls, the hardwood floors needed to be refurbished, there was water damage around the windows and there was absolutely no storage space. Although Mark and Amy had a lot to tackle decoratively, the room was in excellent shape structurally. Once the room was restored to a blank slate, a plan was mapped out for custom, library-style shelving. “I have great vintage books to display but I also wanted to intersperse my favorite objects,” Mark says. Shelves were configured to be adjustable so that years down the road things can change as his collection grows.
During the remodel they came across a spacing problem. “There’s an area of wall space between a window and the fireplace that was way too tight to actually store books, but we definitely needed shelving there to keep the wall balanced,” Amy says. “The solution was to build a column strictly dedicated to displaying objects instead of books.”
One key element of the bookcase is its bold orange background color. Since Mark loves Hermes so much, the iconic orange from the designer's brand was used throughout the design. Originally the color was intended for the house exterior, but "Mark's neighbors held an emergency meeting to discuss the colors of the house they saw being put up as samples outside," Amy says. "We loved the orange color so much on the exterior that we wanted to bring it inside." An eggshell finish applied behind the bookshelf provided a complementary punch to the darker wood in the room.
Mark's antiques aren't limited to the displays on the bookshelves; with the exception of his sofa, Donghia chaise and ottoman, every piece of furniture came from an antique market, estate sale, thrift store or the side of the road.
Amy made all the pieces in the library work harmoniously. "I have some really high-end pieces but I also have quite a few pieces with a much more humble provenance, especially my plaster Elvis bust," Mark says.
Although friends and family members suggested Mark brighten up the space by painting the darkly stained trim a lighter color, he and Amy both decided to leave it the way it was. The same tone of the trim was used on the casing and fascia on the new shelving.
Lighting plays a big part in the design of the library, including a vintage bronze Arts and Crafts-style chandelier centered above the room and hung upside-down, brass swing -arm lamps over some of the bookshelves and a repurposed parking-meter-turned-table-lamp next to the sofa.
Mark found the parking meter lamp in Birmingham, Ala., where he grew up. In order for the light to turn on, the lamp requires a nickel, which provides an hour of light . Although the repurposed parking meter is functional, Amy and Mark both love how much conversation it provokes. The chandelier shows its age, but the jewelry designer refused to polish it. "The patina of the brass is really beautiful," Mark says. "I like how dull it is, plus it adds an interesting texture to the room."
With the project complete, the jewelry designer is getting his fair share of use out of the new library. "It's perfect for reading and conversation," Mark says. "My favorite time of day is early morning when the light hits the orange walls and makes the entire room glow."
Although Mark claims there’s nothing he would do differently, he did learn a few things.
Amy painted the ceiling in a light pink, which scared everyone at first, but it turned out to be the perfect complement to the orange walls. "Funny enough, after we hung the art, we realized that the pink is almost the same shade of the shirt on the street performer featured in the oil painting," Mark says. "From now on, I'm always going paint my ceilings instead of leaving them white."
Now that Amy has put her interior designer stamp on Mark's home, the jewelry designer has been inspired by his home's decor to incorporate the look into his latest line of accessories.
Inspired by antiques, a jewelry designer transforms a crumbling guest bedroom into a library