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Labor of Love J | STORY: Lia Picard | PHOTOS: Nathan Bolster |

ess Hunt-Ralston, a communications officer at Georgia Tech and the creative force behind the lifestyle blog Where With Elle, had been dating her now-husband, Chad, for less than a year when they decided to buy a house together in 2012. She was in her last year studying at Tech, and he was finishing law school at Emory. They scoured the city for the right house until landing in a cozy two-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow in Poncey-Highland.

Then, the neighborhood named after the intersection of Ponce de Leon and North Highland avenues wasn’t known as the vibrant pocket that it is now. “I gotta give it to Jess; she did a lot of research,” says Chad. “Ponce City Market was still-shuttered City Hall East, and the BeltLine was a dirt path behind Two Urban Licks. We



walked it one day, and it was pretty overgrown. There was a lot of vision there.” Her neighborhood foresight paid off, though, and now they’re a quick walk from bustling PCM with the luxury of living off a quiet street. There’s also a cool historical feature, Jess explains: “We think most, if not all, of the houses on this street are Sears Roebuck kit houses. You could get your mortgage and all of your construction materials from Sears. Everything would be delivered by rail to what’s now PCM, and home builders would pick it up. It’s interesting to see how everyone on our street has taken their house and made it their own.” Despite having a knack for design, a home renovation was never the couple’s dream. In fact, after a string of inauspicious home viewings, Jess wasn’t sure she had a home reno in her. But after moving into their home, which was built in 1935, it was apparent that changes needed to be made. They eased into it with small projects, such as removing the pop-

A millennial couple give their Poncey-Highland bungalow a modern farmhouse feel

corn ceilings and tackling the garden. They consulted with a contractor for two years when they decided to do a renovation, but when they were ready to take the plunge in 2016, he had moved on to bigger projects. He did refer them to their current architect, Cody Patton of Patton Architects, and contractors, Keith Jones of HRI Group and Tim Allen of Tim Allen Homes, whom they worked with for the entirety of the project. What was once the west-facing front porch transformed into a bright sun room that also serves as the new entryway. The otherwise neutral room gets a pop of color from a bright orange director’s chair, a relic from Jess’s mother, a former teacher. The old front door still has its doorbell; instead of removing it, they added a brass placard that invites visitors to “ring once for Champagne, twice for whiskey.” (Do it, and you’ll be treated to a chorus of barks from their dogs, Kipper and Pimm’s Cup.) The sunroom flows into the study on one end

and the living room on the other. Renovations continued with refitting the original single bathroom and adding on a master suite. To say that the original bath was cozy would be an understatement. “We liked to say you could be on the toilet, brush your teeth and spit into the bathtub,” Jess laughs. The new space is a work of art with a cast-iron, double slipper bathtub in the glass-enclosed shower, with plenty of room left over in the shower itself. The tiles, which look like wood, are laid out in a herringbone pattern. Jess says they asked themselves, “How do we bridge the 80-year-old pine wood floors to this modern space?” Wood tiles answered the question. Jess has a minimalistic sense of style, defining her MO as “less is more.” She also aspired to a “modern farmhouse” feel to balance the minimal aesthetic. Throughout, the house’s decor is infused with heirlooms and brass and wood accents. The blend of modern and cozy shines in the home’s

Profile for 17th South Magazine

17th South January/February 2018  

17th South is an upscale lifestyle magazine serving Midtown, Westside, Virginia Highland, Inman Park, Grant Park, Ansley Park, Reynoldstown,...

17th South January/February 2018  

17th South is an upscale lifestyle magazine serving Midtown, Westside, Virginia Highland, Inman Park, Grant Park, Ansley Park, Reynoldstown,...