Serenbe, a community of artfully built homes outside of Atlanta, has redefined what community means in America, says RUE Magazine Founder Danny Seo. “Serenbe has always had a special place in my heart,” he remarks. He’s been visiting for more than 15 years and even filmed his televison show, “Naturally, Danny Seo,” there for season three. in awe of the community’s design, common greenspaces, trails, as well as efficient and sustainable land planning, he knew it would be the perfect spot for RUE’s first show house.
Serenbe Founders Steve Nygren and Marie Lupo Nygren had a vision to create an entirely sustainable community in line with New Urbanism, a design movement that arose in the early 1980s, to address post World War urban sprawl. While homes in Serenbe are close together, it’s walkable layout and focus on art, agriculture, and health, all of the elements of a well-lived life, have made it an award-winning biophilic community. The Nygrem’s believed that “if you want to change the world,” start in your own backyard.” The first Serenbe home was built in 2004, and now the community is home to more than 650 residents.
Welcome to All
Instead of a show house that’s open just a few days or weeks, Seo had the idea to create a model home open year round. “Let the tens of thousands of people who visit Serenbe every year get the chance to walk into a real Serenbe home,” he says. “Given my history with Serenbe, when I proposed a RUE home, the answer was a resounding yes from the community,” he adds.
Building the Serenbe Way
Serenbe already has a trusted group of builders and designers, which included contractors from 1023 Construction and interior design by The Designery. Danny Seo and the rest of the RUE team “got out of the way and let the magic of Serenbe happen,” he says. While the main partners were already established, Seo had a hand in picking brand partners like BOXI by Semihandmade, Sharp Appliances, and Wilsonart.
“There is literally no other community in the country I would want to work with,” he says. “What a special treat to be in partnership with a community of artists, environmentalists, and just good people overall.”
For designer Courtney Shearer, the goal was to “create spaces that maximized the spacial feel but still allowed rooms to feel cozy and cool,” she says. The home’s natural light balances a deep blue palette and highlights organic materials, such as BOXI’s textural Oat Slab cabinets.
In the kitchen, Oat Slab cabinets pair with a Wilsonart countertop, high-tech appliances, and dramatic brass and black pendants. “We kept the cabinetry light…and we integrated a tall pantry and worked to capture as much storage as possible so we could forgo wall cabinets,” she says. As the first room seen, she knew she wanted the space to “anchor the first floor as a showpiece.”
“Typical kitchen cabinets are either cheaply made or luxuriously expensive. I was intrigued by BOXI’s approach to disrupt the kitchen category and thought this would be a fantastic way to showcase a new way to buy cabinets and be one of the first homes in the U.S. to have BOXI,” he says.
Shearer was also enthused to work with BOXI as she had first seen the cabinets on social media. “We designed the kitchen to work within the BOXI offerings and worked with the BOXI team to iron out all of the details. It was a super smooth and easy process,” she says.
Dash of Drama
For the rest of the home, ready-ship furniture from Universal Furniture, Regina Andrews lamps, and Jaipur Living rugs set the stage for an Instagram-worthy home. The clean, “museum-esque” feel of the home is punctuated with unique pieces and a dash of moody color for an “unexpected punch of interest and drama,” remarks the designer.
“We are often tasked with working with parameters, whether that be budget or vendors,” she adds. “Lucky for us, the vendors associated with this project had so many amazing options to choose from.”