In the heart of Serenbe—a sustainable, community-oriented farming collective located outside of Atlanta, Georgia—stands a European Country-style residence, home to the founders of this sequestered suburban paradise. An example of New Urbanism, Serenbe has garnered national attention for its development-supported organic farms, critically lauded farm-to-table restaurants and quaint design sense. Each one of its four hamlets focuses on a different element of well-rounded living: “arts for inspiration, agriculture for nourishment, health for well-being and education for awareness.” To date, Serenbe has over four hundred permanent residents, leading The New York Times to call it, “a utopian experiment […] molded out of Georgia red clay.”
Saarinen Dining Table at the Nygren Residence at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. Photograph by Amy Neunsinger.
“The Saarinen Dining Table, set in the breakfast room adjacent to the kitchen, is an original that the client owned from the first years Knoll started making the table.”
As such, this picturesque town house is as much a flag-in-the-ground as it is a residence—an advertisement for the kind of lifestyle the Nygrens are cultivating on the outskirts of the Southern metropolis. “We were going for a European country-house mood,” says Smith Hanes, the home’s designer. Based in Atlanta, Hanes is responsible for some of the city’s most beloved restaurant interiors, including three of Ford Fry’s owned-and-operated establishments: The Optimist, No. 246 and JCT Kitchen & Bar. His approach is informed by historic-regionalism, as evidenced by his recent restaurant, Le Fat, a West Midtown brasserie that channels the aesthetic of French-occupied Vietnam.
This project, on the other hand, is a delicate exercise in restraint, as it is the Nygrens’ collection of treasures that tells the most compelling story. “The house is meant to feel casual and easy to entertain, while showing off the impressive art and furniture collection from their world travels.” Pieces of particular interest include a pair of plaster side tables by sculptor John Dickinson, paintings by Cy Twombly and an original Saarinen Dining Table from the 1960s. “The Saarinen Dining Table, set in the breakfast room adjacent to the kitchen, is an original that the client owned from the first years Knoll started making the table,” says Hanes, adding that its sentimental value made it the perfect anchor for the room. “It’s theirs,” says Hanes, “Mr. Nygren bought that table very early, brought it into the marriage, and since used it for years.” Now rough around the edges, the circular table is exemplary of the kind of simple, egalitarian living the Nygrens have engendered at Serenbe.
Design: Smith Hanes
Photography: Amy Neunsinger