In 2005 pop artist Mark Boomershine purchased his 5,000-square-foot Northern Italian-style villa in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Although the house was, for the most part, his dream home, its 22-by-30-foot study was too formal for his taste.
Passionate about art, Mark saw the study as a place to display his growing collection, one that ranges from fine antiques to flea market finds, pop-art pieces he created to framed 1950s paint-by-numbers he picked up at estate sales. He also wanted the space to double as a lounge where he, his wife, Cinda, and their dog, Bentley, could watch movies and hang out in front of the fire.
An upgrade of the room's function as well as its form would make it the center of the home's social life. As it was, Mark explains, "It was too dark to display art, the electrical plan needed to be updated in order to accommodate the state-of-the-art media components correctly, and the wood-burning fireplace needed to be changed out to gas." These changes would upgrade every aspect of the room's use, including providing proper lighting to see the true color values in the art.
Mark and his team of contractors completed the following punch list in eight days.
Originally, the elm-paneled walls had a dark finish that Mark decided to make lighter through whitewashing and glazing. Determined not to sand 600 square feet of wood paneling, Mark decided to try his own refinishing approach by using acetone.
Mark set aside three full days and tackled the project in four steps: He applied the chemical to the wood to remove the existing sheen; diluted basic white primer with water to create a custom white tone; applied the whitewash with a brush starting at the top and working down toward the bottom; then applied pearlescent, water-based polyurethane to seal it and give it a sheen. "The pearlescent sheen really brings all the millwork details to life," he says.
Mark chose to only use water-based products because he sees several advantages over oil-based options. "As an artist, I work with water-based paints, and I really despise having to clean brushes with chemical cleaners," says Mark. "Oil-based paints take forever to dry, they're harder to work with and they have a really strong odor that's hard to live with. Water-based dries quickly, it's forgiving and there's no smell involved."
With the paneling updated, Mark turned his focus to the audio/video wiring needed to put his new 63-inch flat-panel TV to good use. "I didn't want media components to be seen," he says. "The room is so sophisticated and clean and its focus is meant to be on the art and architecture. It was super important that the wiring remain hidden and the components stay concealed inside cabinetry."
In meeting with contractors, Mark learned that the room was actually built directly on top of the concrete surface of the house's rear courtyard, something Mark wasn't aware of when he bought the house. "It's amazing what you'll discover once you start tearing things apart or crawling under small spaces in a big, old house," he says.
In order to properly outfit the space with cables and wires, the electrician worked in the crawlspace between the room’s floor and the exterior concrete. "The electrician definitely earned his fee," Mark reflects. "There's no way I'd ever have worked in that tight of a space for a full day. It definitely would have made me claustrophobic."
With dust behind him and the project now complete, Mark doesn't regret any of his remodeling decisions. While the biggest masterpiece in the space is his own four-by-four-foot pop-art interpretation of Wonder Woman hung above the fireplace, Mark only included three of his own original pieces into the space.
"I didn't want it to be all about me but more about my favorite pieces, whether they're my own work or part of my collection." With so much visual stimulation packed into one space, Mark often finds himself unsure of what to focus on: his newly curated art collection or his brand-new 63-inch flat-panel TV.
Whitewashed walls and curated artwork bring life to a formerly stuffy space.