photographs by Brittany Ambridge text by Seth Vaughan interior design by Sally King Benedict
Sally King Benedict creates a painterly backdrop for her family in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.
Benedict relaxes in her living room before two of her own works (from top, Fans and Premier Mini Face) as well as an aerial photograph by Sam Kweskin. PILLOW (left) vintage chambray patchwork, maridaditrading.com PILLOW (middle) “Zig Zag Noir” $122 proudmary.bigcartel.com SHIRT smocked bra top $70 saturday.com SKIRT knee-length fine pleat $79.90 zara.com
The living room’s understated fireplace creates a simple backdrop for an eclectic grouping, including a mixed-media piece by Benedict.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the home that painter Sally King Benedict shares with husband George Read, two-year-old son River, and cats Newman and Minnie is how at peace they all seem with its ongoing evolution. “We were immediately drawn to the potential this house has, inside and out,” Benedict says. “There were so many interesting architectural elements to work with, and plenty of room to grow.” Thanks to a nimble yet extensive renovation—which included gutting and refitting a number of rooms, painting throughout, new flooring, and electrical, plumbing, and structural updates—the house now resembles one of Benedict’s canvases in its subtlety and restraint. As they’ve gradually furnished their space, Benedict and Read have aimed to create a home that communicates the hospitable coastal attitude of Charleston, South Carolina, where they first met. “We’re now making design decisions based on the way we want to be living as a family as opposed to newlyweds,” Benedict says. “But we’re still using every piece of furniture, art, and decor from our Charleston house here in Atlanta, so it feels like a little slice of beach and sun in practically every room.”
The living room’s rustic charm is achieved through a dynamic mix of finishes. Stained wood floors and exposed beams punctuate crisp white walls, while a console covered in an African textile and chairs bought at auction provide harmony to the room’s decor. “We buy furniture in the same way we buy art,” explains Benedict. “By seeing it, loving it, feeling you can’t live without it, and then finding a way to buy it. It’s a layered, eclectic approach, and it seems to keep things interesting!”
The sunken dining room, with its blend of seemingly disparate styles, strikes a nonchalant tone. An iron orb chandelier hangs above a custom table by Georgia Harvest Tables and a grouping of vintage chairs. LIGHT FIXTURE Foucault’s iron orb chandelier $695–$1,195 restorationhardware.com
When Benedict was growing up in Atlanta, her mother had (and, indeed, still has) an insatiable appetite for reimagining spaces, moving her family over the years to homes that ranged in style from Georgian to contemporary. In this environment of perpetual change, Benedict was first introduced to the creative life. Her husband, George, hails from a similarly artistic background. (His father is the noted appraiser George Read, who has advised the likes of Lee Radziwill, Jayne Wrightsman, and C.Z. Guest on purchases.) “We both grew up around the same kind of ‘collecting’ mind-set,” Benedict says, “so it’s been fun for us to try to make things work and move things around. It’s a constant puzzle.”
A mirrored wall creates the illusion of additional space— with a hint of glamour!
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Adhering to classical principles of symmetry and scale, Benedict crafted a serene upstairs work area. The yellow lacquered side table, flanked by two pink womb-like chairs, sits in front of a series of geometric studies by artist Tom Herbert.
Layering rugs helps define conversation zones in large rooms.
Necessity mandated a computer nook; here, Benedict softened the space with a vintage rug, a lacquered desk, and floor pillows her husband nabbed at an estate sale.
Global influences converge in River’s room: a skirted side table in vivid Mexican Otomi needlework adds a playful touch, while the contemporary crib contributes to an overall sense of lightness. CRIB Maclaren “CUB 2.0” $695 amazon.com SHEEPSKIN (similar to shown) “Rens” $29.99 ikea.com
In the guest bedroom, cool white linens are juxtaposed with the headboard’s tribal mud-cloth printed cover. “I’m most drawn to obvious contrast, subtle texture, and bold color,” says Benedict. “These elements are equally important—and striking the right balance is an everyday challenge for me as a working artist.”
An antique French commode makes for an unexpected companion to a painting by domino favorite Mary Nelson Sinclair. “We have some amazing artist friends,” says Benedict, “and getting to gaze at their work is always a great escape.”
In 2012, the birth of the couple’s son caused them to consider a return to Atlanta. Sealing the deal was the discovery of a house barely ten minutes away from Benedict’s parents. Her mother acted as an unofficial contractor over the following six months, overseeing modifications to the 1975 four-bedroom French-style home. Benedict and Read were perfectly content in the knowledge that they “were not going to be able to do everything at once,” Benedict says. “We’ve only bought a handful of items for this house so far; we believe the most natural way to decorate is to fill a space with pieces you collect over time.”
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A vintage rug serves as a coverlet at the foot of a bed designed by Charleston architect Will Wingfield.
Grass cloth adds warmth and texture.
Flooded with natural light, Benedict’s studio is a refuge for unfettered thought and expression. RUG Sally King Benedict “Green Hatch” flat-weave $35/square foot, elsoncompany.com
This pattern was borrowed from one of Benedict’s paintings!
brush of fame
Since she first began painting professionally in Charleston, Benedict has gained a devoted following for her fresh and spirited artworks. And this September, her collection of wall coverings will be introduced as part of a group show in Atlanta.