Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dan Carithers Redux

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with Dan Carithers, the Atlanta decorator who has achieved éminence grise status in the design world. (It's well deserved too, I might add.) And I'm also sure that many of you admire the various hallmarks of the Carithers' look. It tends to be traditional but oftentimes mixed with contemporary accents and furniture. The color schemes lean toward neutrals. And for me, I always think of creamware when I think of a Carithers' interior, but I know that not all of his work included it. I guess this is all why I was rather surprised that this contemporary Atlanta apartment, featured in a 1981 Southern Accents, was decorated by none other than Mr. Carithers himself. This Carithers project is almost the reverse of what he usually does; this time it was mostly contemporary but with a dash of antiques. Would you have guessed it?

At the time, Dan Carithers was the Corporate Director of Home Fashion Merchandising for Rich's department store (how I miss old Rich's!), and the clients were the CEO of Rich's and his wife. We must remember that this was the early 1980s, so it's inevitable that certain rooms look that bathroom. But the kitchen? To me, it still looks good, but that might be because my own kitchen is stuck in 1968. A 1981 kitchen would seem downright au courant to me right now!

What I don't know is if this project was a wild card in a career dedicated to a more traditional look. Does anyone know of other predominately contemporary projects of his?

I believe that a built-in bed module and vertical blinds were considered chic at this time.

Louis XIV gilt chairs act as a traditional foil to the more modern elements in this space such as the Bauhaus staircase.

A modern upholstered banquette and Louis XVI opera chairs provided seating.

Mies van der Rohe chairs surrounded a glass and acrylic dining table.

The kitchen was quite state of the art for the time. And no, we don't grow pears that big down here. Those are ceramic ones by artist Paul Nelson.

I'd probably take my evening cocktail and sit in that Regency chair every evening in order to gaze out at that view!

The bathroom and what looks like a John Dickinson stool.

(All images from Southern Accents, Spring 1981, Paul G. Beswick photographer.)


  1. Big surprise this is by Dan Carithers. I have always associated him with completely traditional design and this interior changes that perception. The rooms have stood the test of time - yet indubitably of the 1980s.

    I never knew the downtown Riches, only the Lenox Mall store, but now what little personality the store had is subsumed under the big box mentality of the present owners.

  2. Anonymous8:22 AM

    I would not have guessed that this kitchen was done in the 80s. It is a sleek, galley design and one that you could find every day of the week in apartments in New York. It seems pretty "timeless" to me which is what good design is/should be all about.

  3. Blue- Pre-Federated Rich's was really fantastic.

  4. Anon- I completely agree about the kitchen. Timeless indeed.

  5. I love his tone on tone and king of the neutral zone looks.....cottage in the most regal form!
    This though unexpected is really stylish and so very timeless indeed! Thanks for the peek into a true gem of a home.

  6. I really don't like it. It looks like a hotel suite.

  7. It seems that this apartment pulls from not only an 80s aesthetic, also from the 50s. I love how the neoclassical antiques reference the neoclassic inspiration in 80s design. I do love Dan Carither's tradition Southern interior design work--so rich and layered.

  8. Always refreshing to see Contemporary art mingling with antiques...never goes out of style in my book! Thanks for these great images, a nice reminder that while there are always passing trends, some things are never "dated."

  9. never would have guessed this was his work - amazing!!!!!!! I sooo love seeing this.


  10. J --

    This is really intriguing. I wonder if the art collection was already in place and Dan used it as a jumping off point, or if a lot of the pieces were purchased as part of the project?

    Anyway, I think the galley kitchen is great. The neutrals and editing make me think of Dan, but now I'm curious about the shift to his trademark slipcovers, creamware, toile etc. From your images we can see chairs were a passion back then too :)

    (I also miss Rich's.)

  11. Hi Jennifer,

    This is not that dated, and quite classic. DC is a genius. Thanks for sharing.

    Dean Farris, Naples, FL

  12. reeci t.6:19 PM

    Love the kitchen. That display of antique cooking implements, the deep purple wall and what looks like a tribal rug -- makes it very personal and not at all dated to my eye.

    Love your posts. Thx!

  13. David C10:26 PM

    How I miss Rich's.....and The Magic Pan. That is for another post.

    I love, love, love the kitchen utensiles dipslayed behind glass (or plexi?) in the kitchen. Really done well.