Home & Design | Georgia is on the spirit of this house
Designer Linda Engler vividly remembers the moment she received a call from Cindy and Jeff Holker, who had fallen in love with a neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia. “‘You’re not even going to believe this place, Linda,'” she recalled Jeff saying of the place he and Cindy were considering for a second home. “’It’s surreal. You have to go down and see it.
A few days later, Engler and fellow designer Jenn Taft were there, at the Ford Field and River Club about 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, where the homes are nestled among century-old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. “The setting and the architecture were beautiful – it looked a bit like a movie set,” says Engler.
The deal was sealed, both for the purchase of the house and for Engler and Taft as interior designers. “They didn’t want it to be straight from the traditional south,” Engler says. “They wanted there to be a surprise.” From her work on their current home in Excelsior and a former home in Edina, she knew exactly what they meant: it had to be colorful. “They’re both in color to a point where I actually have to scale them down a bit,” Engler laughs.
It’s a trait Holkers possess easily. “We love color, so you’ll never see us in a house with gray walls and dark granite,” says Jeff.
But first, Engler had to create a foil for the color – a bright, airy backdrop of slatted walls painted in Benjamin Moore Cloud White and wide-plank white oak parquet floors. Surfaces, which also provide a classic low country look, span much of the 2,800 square foot home, including the main level living room, where a newly open floor plan maintains a comfortable scale.
“I think we ended up walking that line pretty well,” says Engler. “It doesn’t feel like an HGTV ‘Let’s do an open plan,’ where everything is just blown away and you have no idea of the spaces. He definitely has intimacy.
From there, it was time to have fun with color. In the main living space, it started with Pierre Frey fabric on the sofa cushions. “We call this our ‘glue fabric,'” says Engler. “It holds everything together, and that’s what we rely on.” The turquoise blues, emerald greens and corals of the fabric make appearances – in just the right amount – in the carpet and other furniture in the living room. They also appear in art, including a pair of colorful botanical works on metal behind the sofa by Minneapolis photographer Natasha D’Schommer. “It’s a modern graphic at an exploded scale,” says Engler.
The results suit the Holkers perfectly. “There’s enough color here to make us happy,” says Cindy. Jeff agrees. “Minnesota isn’t a stressful place, but we’re both very busy and always on the go,” he says. “But when you come here and walk through the door, it’s just… ah.”
“Benjamin Moore Cloud White has been my go-to white for about 30 years. If it’s walls, it’s ceilings, it’s cabinets – you name it – if it’s white, it’s probably Cloud White.
—Interior Designer Linda Engler
Interior design : Linda Engler and Jenn Taft, Engler Studio Interior Design, 7562 Market Place Dr., Eden Prairie, 952-564-6488, englerstudio.com // Architecture: Joye Reno, Reno Architecture, 50 Ford Way, Richmond Hill, Georgia, 912-713-4041, renoarchitecture.net // Builder: Brian Grant, Grant Homes, 50 Ford Way, Richmond Hill, GA, 912-507-8657, granthomesinc.com
From daily architectural tours to dozens of home décor stores, this stylish and eclectic city is a treasure trove for design lovers. Here are some notable sources.
- shopSCAD: Some of the house’s art was uncovered at this charming boutique (above left) on Madison Square, which is filled with works by artists from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). 340 Bull St., Savannah, 912-525-5180, shopscad.com
- Hamilton Turner Inn: This meticulously restored 1873 French Empire mansion (above middle) is home to 17 lavish guest rooms and regularly receives accolades from the press like Conde Nast Traveler, Bridesand planet alone. 330 Abercorn Street, Savannah, 912-233-1833, hamilton-turnerinn.com
- Circa lighting: This chic source for all types of lighting — with a showroom that opened in 2020 in Minneapolis’ North Loop — got its start in Savannah, where the flagship has long been a beacon for designers . 405 Whitaker Street, Savannah, 912-447-1008, circalighting.com
- Forsyth Metal Works: Jeff Holker is full of praise for the metal shop that made his kitchen’s range hood. “I described what I was looking for and one of them drew me a picture. And I said, ‘This is it.’ It’s spectacular. 111 Lissner Ave, Savannah, 912-438-6183, forsythmetalworks.com
- Savannah heritage tours: Tours of historic homes and gardens abound in Savannah. Among them are this company’s guided tours of Mercer House (top right) and Bonaventure Cemetery, sites made famous by John Berendt’s novel. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. 912-224-8365, savannahheritagetours.com
- Peridot Antiquities: Designer Linda Engler describes the finds here as “equal parts antique and vintage” and “in a building with sky-high ceilings and a kind of creepy staircase, but definitely with Savannah charm.” 10 Liberty Street West, Savannah, 912-596-1117
- The Paris market: As its name suggests, the treasures in this vast Victorian display case from 1874 are reminiscent of the famous “flea markets” of Paris, as well as an extensive selection of art and design books and magazines. 36 W. Broughton St., Savannah, 912-232-1500, theparismarket.com
- One Fish Two Fish: Furniture anchors this staple of Savannah design, but it’s fun to browse (and easier to stow in carry-on) a range of linens, books, candles, and tableware. Find casual-chic clothes at sister shop The Annex across the street. 401 Whitaker St., Savannah, 912-447-4600, onefishstore.com