A Transformed Home Overlooking Ballantyne Country Club

A couple buys a house for the land, but Monica Duncan creates the home they wanted
Designer Monica Duncan was tasked with making a beautiful but dark home into something that was warm and welcoming.

BARB BRISCHKE AND BRIAN PHILLIPS weren’t crazy about the house, but they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase the land it sat on. Overlooking the lake on the 17th hole of Ballantyne Country Club, the double lot persuaded them to purchase the home. The vision of their designer, Monica Duncan, helped them realize they could appreciate the house just as much. 

The chandelier in the living room is hung in a way that the custom outdoor chandelier outside appears to be an extension of it. 

Brischke called Duncan, who worked on previous projects for her, to see if the designer could make the home feel more comfortable. Formerly owned by members of the Blumenthal family, the home had dark, ornate touches, such as columns and wrought iron accents, throughout—far from the open space Brischke and Phillips wanted for entertaining.

After seeing the home, Duncan came back with a binder of ideas, many of which were big structural changes. Her suggestions would create the feel the homeowners—engaged to be married in May 2018—were hoping for.

Last October, the work began.

“She just has the vision,” Brischke says of Duncan, who owns The Duncan House Fine Interiors. “She sat down with Brian and I, and she just listened to what we wanted and what we wanted the house to be like, and we felt like it was a great match. I just love all of her work.”

Duncan brought on Arcadia Homes, the structure’s original builders, to help with the remodeling, which included tearing out fireplaces, columns, cabinetry, and floors. Some of the rooms were opened, others divided. The interior renovation took eight months. 

By eliminating unnecessary architectural touches and bringing in a color scheme based in neutrals, Duncan was able to give the home a more cozy feel.

“The house had super great bones,” Duncan says. “Foundationally, it was just a really great space. But the house was dated; it was ornate, it was busy. It lacked a warmth, a fluidity. It really just lacked a lot of balance in the house.”

As a first step, any unnecessary architectural details—cutouts, angles, and niches—were removed. In her design, Duncan used a continuous color scheme and natural textures. Red western raw cedar on some ceilings adds a modern, organic touch, while coffered ceilings elsewhere make the rooms feel more inviting.

Top: Duncan replaced every light fixture in the home. Her favorite is the Currey & Co. fixture above the dining room table; it measures 47 inches in diameter. Bottom: Gracie the cat lounges in front of a picture window and picturesque view. 

Brian had the home wired so that nearly everything can be controlled remotely, from dimming the lights to playing music across different rooms. 

“It is such a big and open space, but when you are in that space now, it certainly does not feel that way,” Duncan says. “It still feels grand and spacious and open—we didn’t lose that open concept feel—but immediately, you are with that feeling of warmth about you.”

The great room anchors the home, with a large stone fireplace and wall lined with accordion-fold glass doors that give a panoramic view of the outdoor living space, pool, and golf course. The kitchen, which opens into the great room, uses the same stone as the fireplace as a backsplash, creating the fluidity that the home was missing.

The kitchen cabinetry was entirely replaced, as was every light fixture in—and outside of—the home. A stunning Currey & Co. fixture in the dining room, 47 inches in diameter, adds glamour that contrasts with another stone wall, visible from the home’s grand entrance. Dual spiral staircases make an immediate impression on visitors; Brischke’s daughter, Danielle, posed there for pictures before her fall wedding. It’s luxurious, yet accessible. 

“I didn’t want it to be pretentious; I didn’t want it to be stuffy or anything else,” Brischke says. “I think we did accomplish it.”

“Well, (Duncan) did,” she adds with a laugh. “I can’t take any credit for it.”

Standing in the great room looking out over the view that sold Brischke and Phillips on this house, you can see beyond the room’s chandelier to the one above the patio outside, made of tiered cylinders. Duncan had the fixture made. Its hanging cylinders purposely fall into place in the background of the great room fixture as though they’re one. Under the custom chandelier on the patio, Brischke held a pre-wedding pool party for Danielle and her new husband, Jacob.

Brischke and Phillips’ own wedding is in May. By then, their latest projects—a pool house and cabana—will be complete. Landscaping will follow. With their home finished and marriage official, there will be one thing left for the newlyweds to do.

“I’ll be ready to relax here,” Brischke says.

Barb Brischke and Brian Phillips purchased the home largely because of the land it was on. Their first home together overlooks the luscious greens of a golf course from a double lot. 

Categories: Feature