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In Good Taste
By Phebe Wahl | Photo: Jeff Wolk | January 2, 2015
Celebrated chef Ford Fry enlists in-house designer Elizabeth Ingram with serving up a sophisticated and serene space for his family’s Roswell home.
Known for his empire of renowned restaurants that range from Peachtree to Krog Street, the chef behind hot spots King + Duke, The Optimist, St. Cecelia and JCT. Kitchen & Bar is deeply dedicated to authenticity when it comes to both cuisine and design. “My goal isn’t to be restaurant of the month,” Fry declares of his distaste for flash. “I have been known to rip out $30,000 of light fixtures and replace them on the fly with something more true and timeless.”
Fry’s taste for the timeless extends to his home, where he asked his in-house designer, Elizabeth Ingram, to transform his new Roswell abode into somewhere his family could escape the daily hustle and bustle. Fry had already successfully wooed Ingram from her position as an upholstery designer with Mark Sage’s BoBo Intriguing Objects, a shop he often scouts for home and restaurant furnishings. “That’s the stuff I like because it’s real, naturally aged and weathered,” Fry explains. “It doesn’t look Disney.”
After meeting Ingram at Sage’s store, Fry knew her aesthetic and authentic sensibility were a perfect match.
“Design for me is very important,” Fry explains of establishing Ingram as his in-house designer. Outsourcing the design for his restaurants didn’t suit the creative chef. “It was the translation from the designer to the purchaser that would fail,” he remembers. Fry now enjoys having the opportunity to have a heavier hand in the design process. “I want to design around the function of the food and the flow of the kitchen. I want it to look authentic,” he says.
For the home project, Ingram began by melding Fry’s strong design sensibilities with considerations for family and children. “Like anything residential, it is essentially marrying all strong points of view together,” Ingram says.
“It was just a blend of her personality and our personalities,” reflects Fry. Ingram enjoyed the challenge and the freedom of working with an essentially blank canvas, as the Frys kept very few furnishings from their previous home.
The designer carefully shifted gears from her commercial work to the residential project. “With restaurants, you can take a little more of a risk because you are creating an experience, almost like theater,” Ingram offers. “Whereas [with] a home, you have to live in it for a long time—so you need to be a bit more sure of the things that you do.”
Ingram took her cues from the plantation style of the home, created by architect Lew Oliver, best known for his eco-conscious developments at Serenbe and Rosemary Beach. “There is a lot of largess to the spaces,” Ingram notes. “It just feels really good in the house.”
Ingram selected a color palette of gray and off-white that was “easy and clean” to craft a country-house atmosphere of refuge. “Ford and Stacy have a really hectic life, so when they are home, they wanted it to be a serene space where they can relax,” Ingram shares. The designer worked diligently to find the perfect shade of gray-brown for the floors. “It was a process, but the color is gorgeous and makes the spaces flow beautifully together,” she boasts.
Ingram punctuated the open spaces with art that reflects the Frys’ love of flora and fauna, like the diptych in the dining room by Atlanta artist Cooper Sanchez (who also is the head gardener for Oakland Cemetery), and an oversize photograph of a sheep by their friend, Atlanta photographer Gary McLoughlin. “For restaurants, or a house, I tend to tell myself a story about the history of the house. Then I fill in kind of like an actor does, with a character to give them a backstory, and flesh out what the whole archeology of the space is,” Ingram reveals. Fry’s favorite spots in the home include a leather upholstered nook in the entryway and his basement guitar room, where he and a friend slatted the walls with cedar planks. “It is kind of my little den to get away from things,” he says.
Of course, the kitchen and dining areas are designed for entertaining family and friends. “It is set up [so] I can talk and cook at the same time without being afraid of burning something,” Fry chuckles. The chef’s list of must-have kitchen items included a Sub-Zero refrigerator, an ice maker, a wood-burning hearth and a commercial BlueStar range. “That thing is like a wild horse,” he laughs. The word-burning hearth is a version of the one at King + Duke and is outfitted with a hand crank to raise and lower the grill. Chef Fry is already planning the meals he will cook up for the holidays: “leg of lamb or roasts, or maybe whole chickens and let them slow, slow cook.”
Unfortunately for us, they don’t take reservations.
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