First Place

On a post-college budget, Holly Hollon filled her Highland Park condo with style that is second to none.

by Mary Ellen Stancill, Photos by Jeff Williams

After graduating from Auburn University and taking her first “real” job as a graphic designer for a local advertising agency, Holly Cook (now Hollon) began to dream of having her own home. To save money, she moved back in with her parents for a year and started looking for the perfect place. “I would love the old, beautiful architecture and my dad would say, ‘It’s falling to pieces,’” says Holly with a laugh. “Then he’d find something structurally sound, and I would think, ‘Blah, that’s ugly. Too new!”

But parents and daughter finally agreed on an updated condo on Highland Avenue in a building originally completed in 1915. “The first time I walked in I thought, ‘This is not where I live. This is where Meg Ryan lives in movies,’” Holly recalls. The third floor corner unit, with original hardwood floors, working fireplace, thick crown molding and tall windows overlooking towering trees peaked her interest. But an exposed brick wall, large kitchen and master bedroom with three—yes three—closets sealed the deal.

Next came the fun part—furnishing the space. Though she painted several rooms—yellow in the master bedroom, Robin’s egg blue in the kitchen, a soft pink in the bathroom—Holly left the living room and dining room dark gray. “I got really lucky,” she says. “I knew wherever I was going, I wanted dark gray walls.” To select furniture and accessories, Holly trusted her artist’s eye for affordable pieces with good bones and plenty of potential. “In college, I started thrift store shopping,” she explains. Her collection of antique china began with treasure hunts through Auburn thrift stores. A chair purchased for $40 at another Auburn shop and recently recovered now finds a spot in the living room.

Holly also became a garage sale pro—scouring the newspaper and searching for estate sale listings online to map out a game plan for Saturday mornings. Her dining room china cabinet, now filled with bargain pieces as well as her wedding china, is her prized garage sale purchase.

But Holly was also willing to wait for just the right piece. “I have always loved [faux] bamboo Chippendale chairs,” says Holly. “When I started looking for dining room chairs, I knew that’s what I’d want.” With the help of her mother, Holly searched Ebay and other online sites, local antique stores and thrift shops to no avail. Then finally after a year, they found a set of eight chairs at Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta. She left the chairs painted black and added a vibrant Trina Turk fabric to the seat cushions. After searching out deals on upholstered pieces as well as fabric (most fabrics she found for a steal at $3 per yard in a bargain bin at a favorite interior design shop) Holly spent her money wisely by hiring a quality upholsterer.

Cherished family pieces are also found throughout the home. A dresser that belonged to Holly’s grandfather was updated with new hardware and serves as a sideboard in the dining room; a chair from her grandmother’s dressing room is tucked away in a bedroom.

To achieve the mix of modern with traditional furnishings that Holly prefers, she purchased a glass topped dining room table from CB2. “I chose the modern glass table because with the small space, the glass made the rooms feel more open. The glass is also useful because I can use the table as a light table for my designing and illustrating by just placing a lamp underneath.” An Ikea bookshelf in the living room and mirrored bedside tables from Target provide additional modern touches.

After decorating her apartment and living there with a roommate for a year and half, Holly married Charlton Hollon in October of last year. While the pair have made a few design compromises—the extra bedroom is now Charlton’s decidedly more masculine, history book filled office—Charlton’s a good sport and highly supportive of Holly’s love for design. “Until I started dating Holly, I never knew a bookshelf could be a work of art,” he says. “I’m getting more into plates; she’s getting more into history,” he explains with a smile.

Now the couple enjoys entertaining together with regular gatherings including “crepe night” each Wednesday when Holly prepares crepes at 9 p.m., and friends know to bring their topping of choice. And Friday is reserved for date night, which usually means a walk through the neighborhood to Bottega Café. “I have always been so fond of the area,” says Holly. “Charlton and I just love everything about living on Highland.”   •

Want to see more of Holly’s design ideas?

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2 Responses to “First Place”

  1. Pat Kirky says:

    I love your mix of color and styles. What color is the yellow in the master bedroom?

  2. Holly says:

    Thank you Pat

    The yellow in the master is Benjamin Moore, Provence Creme, No. 2021-60


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