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Kate Abney | Photo: Jeff Herr | January 2, 2015
For a worldly couple’s lofty country-club lot, modernist Jeffrey Bruce Baker delivered every luxury they desired—and then some.
Life is a vacation for Ashley and Jorge Ocampo, the discriminating and fashion-forward couple behind Ocampo’s Inc., an Atlanta-based company that creates manufacturing equipment for the paper and textile industries. Both worldly and well cultured, with strong opinions, the couple met after Colombian-born Jorge completed studies at Georgia Tech, and then they started a family that now includes two teens, ages 14 and 16. All avid travelers, they were accustomed to fine hotel amenities and wanted the same for their Atlanta home, which they consider their primary residence.
After finding the perfect wooded lot on the Atlanta Country Club, the Ocampos set to work, compiling a houzz.com profile with thousands of images of modern elements they loved, then emailed inquiries to 30 local folks. The couple’s list of desires was, by many accounts, ludicrous, and a few architects told them as much. “But I saw opportunity,” says Jeffrey Bruce Baker, an on-the-rise Atlanta architect, and interior and furniture designer with an impressive portfolio of choosy clients—most of them international transplants. He was the 13th and final candidate the Ocampos interviewed, and the only one with the gumption to realize their unconventional requests. “Jeffrey had the passion, attention to detail and, most importantly, he listened,” Ashley says.
“It’s crazy, but I did go through all of [the images],” Baker recalls. “I really wanted to understand their [design] vocabulary, to speak their language.” What Baker found was a wealth of flying staircases, flush-mounted fireplaces, sleek Italian kitchens… and a definite common thread. “When people give me so many diverse images, it’s most important for me to determine the recurring theme,” he says. “Because in the same way you cannot wear all of your jewelry at once, too many features in a house is just… too much.” Baker returned just three days after their Friday-afternoon consultation with a detailed schematic—and a few fresh ideas to boot. Sensing a strong synchronicity, the Ocampos were sold on Baker’s concepts. They granted him carte blanche, along with a nearly boundless budget to carry out their dreams.
First, there was the little matter of the house’s perch atop a 55-foot incline—essentially a cliff. Despite this constraint, the Ocampos had insisted on a pool that would peer across the lush vistas. “Everyone had said a pool wouldn’t work on this lot, but I had an idea,” Baker says. “Since I worked in commercial [business] and hospitality for so long, where it was never unusual to build an amenity deck 10 [or] 20 stories up, I’m very comfortable working in heavy concrete and steel, and I often need these materials to make my designs reality.”
Baker’s team promptly poured a stalwart foundation into the hillside, where it soared to 30 feet at its highest elevation. He then outfitted the new terrace with a depression to accommodate a 6-foot plunge pool and hot tub, illuminating its depths with color-changing LED lights. Accessible directly via the living space (“You literally walk right out to the pool,” Baker says), the clever feature is flanked by a dramatically lit wine room some 1,000 bottles strong—a collection curated by the Ocampos’ personal friend Perrine Prieur. Unsurprisingly, it’s inspired many fabulous parties by the pool.
The rest of the home’s modern-Mediterranean architecture proved just as impressive. The front facade displays stacked stone, glass and exotic Brazilian ipe-wood planes intersecting in precise geometry; its steeply pitched roof recalls the silhouettes of its more traditional neighbors; and its cantilevered front porch hides one of Baker’s biggest trade secrets: concealed doors. To the left is the main entrance, of course, but in the middle lies an invisible passage to the home’s catering kitchen, where service staff can easily drop off provisions or do party prep without access to the rest of the techno-equipped “smart house.”
The main kitchen, for that matter, is the heart of the home’s open-format living-and-dining space, touting chef-quality appliances (Sub-Zero, Wolf, Miele), a sophisticated coffee station and Gatto cabinetry in walnut and white lacquer. It’s also a great room in which to admire Baker’s expert handling of the ceiling, where a Futuro hood drops down dramatically. Throughout the building, ceiling planes soar past one another, staggering in height from 8 to 13 feet above the floor. Coupled with skylights, soffits, clerestories, cantilevers and—count ’em—five precise layers of lighting, the effect is incredibly rhythmic. “I think of architecture like music,” Baker explains. “Music is not always the same; it has many highs and lows. Architecture should too.”
That effect is nowhere more evident than in the crown jewel of the house, a three-story glass-shrouded floating staircase that leads upstairs to four of the home’s five master suites, each with its own full bath and walk-in closet. Ingeniously, Ashley and Jorge’s separate baths and closets are one full floor apart. “Two of everything… that’s the secret to a happy marriage,” Baker laughs. “And they’re one of the best couples I’ve seen yet.” Located beneath her husband’s, and accessed by a staircase, Ashley’s master bath features a futuristic marble-and-mirrored glass mosaic, one of a dozen rare stones she picked out for the home herself. His boasts silver travertine and a fireplace-flanking BainUltra soaking tub with hot steam injection.
Notably, the always-thorough Baker surveyed the Ocampos vast collections of designer fashions—Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Christian Louboutin—then designed custom closets to accommodate their inventory. He added an outdoor space to nearly every room too, from the ground-level Zen garden to the third-floor office to Jorge’s indulgent double rain shower, which makes users feel like they are showering in the open air.
“I want all of my clients to feel like they’re living in a resort. That’s why I put a pool in every house, so I always have one to visit,” Baker laughs. He even added an outdoor cabana bar and grill with all the amenities the Ocampos’ could ask for. “All that’s left is to hire a bartender and someone to feed you grapes,” he jokes. And that love of leisure is a good thing, considering Baker’s already been asked to build the Ocampos’ future home in Miami. And he knows, when he’s not away working on his next masterpiece, he’ll always have a spot to staycation right here in Atlanta.
Jeffrey Bruce Baker
Artwork throughout the home
European Sink Atlanta
All plumbing fixtures
Guy Gunter Home
Oregon Lumber Company