For Jon and Farrah Lester, home always seemed to be wherever Jon’s career as a professional baseball player took him. As often occurs for any player—even one as celebrated as Jon, who has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated—changing ball clubs and cities became the norm. Every chance they got, however, the couple retreated to their beloved Atlanta, some 700 miles away from Jon’s current job as a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.
When they found an almost-perfect Shingle-style house just outside the city, the Lesters called on designer Barbara Westbrook to transform the interiors with her fresh take on traditional.
“We’re not overly fancy, formal people,” Farrah says. “We wanted a beautiful home filled with antiques, but we didn’t want it to be too formal. We wanted touches that were rustic and a warm, welcoming Southern feel.”
Westbrook knew just where to begin. “Jon and Farrah love color and warmth,” she says, “so we started with a timeless palette of rich greens with accents of persimmon, and then we mixed in antiques.”
The soaring proportions of the family room with its 18-foot ceiling made the space seem a bit cavernous. To create cozier confines, Westbrook called on her woodsy palette. “This room is really all about the warmth factor,” she says. “We used a warm paint color on the walls that contrasts very subtly with the ceiling. Because there’s not an abrupt contrast between the two, the ceiling doesn’t seem quite as dominant.”
A substantial antler chandelier installed high above tames the room’s height even more and offers a nod to Jon’s love of hunting and the outdoors. “Jon really wanted this chandelier,” Westbrook says. “It works well here with artwork that has a slightly more modern vibe and keeps the room from being too heavy.”
A mix of new and antique, cottagey and family-friendly is important to Farrah. In the dining room, which exudes Southern charm, vintage pieces blend with curvaceous chairs designed for comfort—the stylish seating accommodates Jon’s 6-foot-4 frame as easily as those of his pint-size sons. A sage-green paint from Benjamin Moore sets off the antique Welsh cupboard. The cupboard houses a pewter collection that plays off a brass chandelier and an ethereal painting commissioned from Atlanta artist Michael Dines.
As avid entertainers and hosts to many out-of-town guests, Jon and Farrah need a kitchen that works hard and plays hard. The space functioned well, Westbrook says, “but needed a facelift.” Floors were darkened, cabinets painted, lighting updated, and new sinks and faucets installed. “Jon came up with the idea of adding the custom-made iron potrack,” the designer says. The kitchen—plus a breakfast nook that sports a joyful bird theme—is now a favorite family spot. “I come from a Southern home where cooking is a big part of life,” Farrah says. “When we’re home, we love to cook. And when we’re entertaining, this is where guests will spend most of the evening.”
While the home’s original kitchen had a workable layout—complete with two islands and double ovens—a few cosmetic changes were made. Westbrook swapped in pendant lights from Hector Finch, added a custom iron potrack to accommodate copper cookware, and darkened the wood floors. Bar stools are from Dennis & Leen.
The earthy palette continues in the bird-themed breakfast room, where high back chairs encircle the table for a more intimate dining experience.
Designed with the homeowners’ niece in mind, the space is elegantly girly. The room was designed around the quilt from Stella Rubin.