Although still in her early 30s, Atlanta interior designer Allison Hennessy has already made her mark in a crowded field, first working with boldface names such as Phoebe Howard and Meg Braff, and then opening her eponymous company in 2010. She’s also been included on both Traditional Home’s and Southern Living’s lists of up-and-coming designers. Hennessy describes her style as tailored, edited, and classic wrapped in a modern sensibility.
“I don’t like a lot of frills or for anything to be too heavy or ornate,” she says. “Instead I focus on the materials and textures to bring interest to a room.” In that vein, the designer uses a lot of hand-painted and block-printed fabrics, sea grass, sisal, rattan, rich linen velvets, brass, and painted light fixtures.
When Hennessy took us shopping, she not only gave us the ins-and-outs of Atlanta’s Scott Antique Market (find her guide here), but shared fantastic tips for decorating with antiques and showed us how she could use pieces in her designs.
The Pick: Allison Hennessy shops for Louis Philippe mirrors from a trusted source at Scott Antique Market. The Placement: Above the fireplace in a New York apartment with great architectural details, Hennessy layered in a Louis Philippe mirror, curvy sconces, and blue-and-white ginger jars.
The Pick: Hennessy liked the brass base and pulls on this $60 pair of lamps. “At that bargain price, I could have them painted to suit the space if need be,” she says. The Placement: She kept this dining room casual with a painted table and cheerful upholstered chairs but added sophisticated accents such as the lamps and mirror.
The Pick: The faux bois dining room chairs with the cane backs were a good value and would work in a more casual setting, Hennessy says. The Placement: In a sunny breakfast area, Hennessy chose oval-backed chairs. “One drawback about antique chairs,” she says, “is that they are often not scaled for today’s lifestyle, so do take that into account. You want to make sure that chairs used daily are comfortable.”
“I don’t like a lot of frills or for anything to be too heavy or ornate. I focus on the materials and textures to bring interest to a room.” — Allison Hennessy
The Pick: Hennessy often mixes reproduction and vintage pieces of blue-and-white export china. She takes note of the color saturation, choosing finishes with a hand-painted quality. The Placement: Patterns and textures pair beautifully in this living room, with reds and neutrals accented by blues and punctuated by fretwork armchairs and a midcentury painting.
The Pick: Among the botanical prints at Scott’s, Hennessy is drawn to ferns, which feel more modern to her. The Placement: The symmetry of antique prints and furnishings makes a statement in an Atlanta foyer.
The Pick: “The pagoda shape on this lantern is so whimsical. I would use it as is or perhaps paint it.” The Placement: Her client already had Asian accents in her Richmond, Virginia, home, so Hennessy chose a fretwork chandelier for the foyer.
The Pick: Hennessy liked the weathered finish and fabric on this armchair. The Placement: Chairs with pretty curves are on the shopping list. “The curves soften the more angular pieces—coffee and end tables—that are often in a living room, such as this one in Greenwich,” says Hennessy.
By Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Debroah Whitlaw Llewellyn | Produced by Ellen S. Padgett
In addition to showing how she approaches decorating with antiques, Hennessy gave us the ultimate guide to Picking at Scott Antique Market in Atlanta.
More Interior Designers to Know
- Classically Chic: Young Huh’s Design Style
- California Dreaming: Schuyler Samperton
- A Place to Call Home: James T. Farmer