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Love Where You Live

Realtor Julie Altenbach shares luxury design tips

When Julie Altenbach looks back, the signs of her love for real estate and home design were there as early as childhood. Growing up in Tennessee — though she has proudly called Atlanta home since graduate school — Altenbach had a beloved dollhouse that she “played with constantly” — and, fun fact, she still has it! This budding interest in homes soon became more sophisticated; she would draw simple floor plans on the family’s driveway using chalk and even dug out a multi-level playhouse behind her parents’ garden. 

These experiences inspired Altenbach to pursue a home-related career, and, though she felt equally drawn to interior design and real estate, she ultimately chose the latter for the opportunity to connect with a broader audience. “I have met people from all over the world, and I have been able to experience other cultures,” she shares. 

Working with Harry Norman Realtors, Atlanta’s longest-standing and most respected luxury real estate firm, Altenbach has witnessed many interior design trends come and go and, more importantly, what has stood the test of time. She particularly encourages homeowners to seek decor reflecting who they are as a person. Known as “grand millennial” style, this art of blending cherished heirlooms with modern design appeal “if done right, can be fabulous,” she notes. 

As an exclusive to East Cobb Lifestyle readers, Altenbach offered a few design tips from the local luxury market. Take your pick, and give your interiors a new look — then fall in love with your home all over again. 

  • Indulge in color. “For a while, everything was white,” Altenbach says, “and it was very neutral, often rather sterile-looking.” She suggests increasing visual interest with earthy shades of green and blue, which are frequently showing up in the high-end market. 
  • Liven things up with prints. Bold is back, Altenbach insists — she is seeing “everything from lime green floral wallpaper to orange striped draperies inspired by antique French mattress patterns.” The lesson? Don’t be afraid to try something new with your wallpaper, rugs, draperies or upholstery. 
  • Let the walls (and ceilings) talk. Begone, boring walls and ceilings! — Altenbach suggests giving these often overlooked spaces a touch of drama with floor-to-ceiling board and batten or decorative fretwork. 
  • Here’s a cool idea. Skip corporate coffee and plan an elite coffee station in your home. Machines that craft your favorite latte (foam too!) plus a refrigerated drawer for accouterments can take your morning joe from habit to indulgence. Furthermore, these refrigerated drawers can go anywhere, bathrooms and bedrooms included. “Homeowners are using them to store medications, vitamins and an array of beauty products—makeup, moisturizers, cooling eye gels and masks,” Altenbach says. “Cold temperatures enhance the soothing, therapeutic effects.” 

Her attention to detail in home design, Altenbach says, is inspired by her favorite quote from the iconic Gloria Stenem’s book, My Life on the Road: “Home is a symbol of the self. Caring for a home is caring for one’s self," she points out.