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By Travis Neighbor Ward | Photo: Joshua Vick | April 22, 2015
Melinda Chandler and Mikel Muffley convert their 1920s bungalow into a sophisticated, modern family retreat.
When Melinda Chandler first moved into her Georgia Revival bungalow in Virginia-Highland, it was 1997 and she was a single professional running her corporate branding agency Get Fresh Creative. The one-story layout and in-town neighborhood of the home were perfect for her needs then and continued to be even after she married real estate impresario Mikel Muffley 10 years later. (Chandler is also now the director of brand marketing at Muffley & Associates Real Estate.) But in 2012, with a baby daughter on the way, they decided it was time to renovate.
“We needed more space but loved the proximity to the park and [the] skyline view,” Chandler says. “We wanted to maximize those things.”
The couple has what she describes as “an affinity for things that are luxurious, and we both skew more contemporary.” Muffley, who specializes in luxury residential properties, wanted the house to be “light, bright and white.” To help turn it into a two-story home with a more open floor plan conducive to entertaining, they turned to their good friend Yong Pak, a principal at the Pak Heydt & Associates architecture firm.
“Yong has such an eye for design and the play of light,” says Chandler. “He looked at our ideas and opened them up.”
Ultimately the redesign involved taking the house down to its original studs. To build it, they employed Muffley & Associates’ Custom Dream Home Program, which constructs new houses from the ground up based on clients’ desires (the firm even scours the city for lots on their behalf). For the interior design they hired Stanley Ellis, another good friend. “Stanley has a wonderful signature style I’ve always loved and admired,” says Chandler.
That admiration is clearly mutual. “Melinda’s style is very clean and classic, nothing fluffy whatsoever,” Ellis says. “She’s much more understated than Mikel; he likes things more dramatic. So the blend of their styles was very important. The fact that they had a child on the way and a dog took precedence.” In order to keep the elegant, light-colored furniture easy to clean, they opted for indoor-outdoor French acrylic fabric wherever it made sense.
From a design standpoint, Ellis says the greatest challenge was the front entry, which was original to the house. Because there isn’t a foyer, visitors must walk from the front door straight through the living room. “It was causing traffic patterns through the middle of the room,” he explains. “I wanted to furnish it so they’d actually use it often.” The solution functions “more like a cocktail lounge,” with four armchairs facing an ottoman. “You can have a cup of coffee with someone or a cocktail before dinner there,” he says. “It works well.”
Because both Muffley and Chandler love water (she grew up in south Florida; he grew up in Michigan), adding a swimming pool and a fantastic grill out back was a must. Now, she says, the house “has a nice spaciousness and invites the outdoors in. We love to entertain here, especially in warmer months. It’s a little oasis.”
Pak Heydt & Associates
Muffley & Associates