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Finding Serenity in Serenbe

Ryan Hughes Serenbe House

A Pandemic Purchase Turned Design Paradise

Like most of us in the design industry, the beginning of the pandemic brought a sense of urgency for us to get our homes in order…knowing we’d be spending so much more time in them. It was with this realization that motivated Ryan Hughes to find a project that would inspire him outside of the confines of the urban landscape. 

That’s when a newly framed home in Serenbe caught Hughes’ eye. 

Located in Georgia’s Chattahoochee Hill Country, Serenbe is known for its red clay earth, pastoral hills & restful silence, as well as its intentionally crafted  neighborhoods.Beyond the idyllic design vernacular that is honored throughout the 1,000+ acres, Serenbe provided respite & ultimately a malleable canvas to get creative in a new community. So Hughes decided to partner yet again with Smith Hanes to pen his vision to paper & bring the 2,300sq feet, 3 bed/3 bath to life. 

“From our first meeting, Ryan had a vision for his place. The style direction was clear. He wanted a floor that would communicate the feel of a country house, but executed in an elevated style, ” says Smith Hanes. “He wanted a place that felt warm and inviting, with art and design touches that inspire and excited him. He wanted a vibe, a feeling for this little place in the country.”

“Working with Smith & his team on the showroom was such a special period of my life, and I knew that I wanted to relive a bit of the emotions I felt when designing something so personal with someone who I could trust would collaborate with me,” Hughes shared. “I’ve always enjoyed sharing a dialogue with Smith when it comes to creating spaces with feeling.”

Hughes’ intention was to experiment with art & build a narrative around the color stories in relation to those works using various furniture & lighting from designers like APPARATUS, COUP Studio, OCHRE, Fisher Weisman and BassamFellows, as well as vintage pieces. Ryan Hughes Serenbe House Tim Lenz“Through this process of constructing four walls from the ground up, it gave me appreciation of what I wanted to invest in – the little things that may not be on the top of the list for others, but were important for me,” Hughes said. “Things like the plumbing fixtures, the plaster, the lighting. I mean we decided to plaster the ceiling! It felt like a wild idea, but it was one of the first things people noticed when they walked in.” “Ryan truly was the design decision maker and force behind this strong and beautiful home,” Smith revealed. “We acted as sounding board, and documented the ideas he envisioned for finishes and interior architecture. Ryan chose all furnishings and art throughout.”

This house became an opportunity to not only test out firsts for Hughes, but also for to play with nostalgia.  “White painted floors – it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do & finally had an opportunity to just go for it.” Hughes commented. “But also, I wanted to have some familiar touches. Like, growing up, my grandparents house had two twin beds that sat a little higher off the ground. I have special memories of that room, so I paid homage with a new spin that included covering 14 foot walls in a chunky jute wall covering.”

These were the very same signature R HUGHES elements that attracted various buyers when Hughes put the house on the market. After about a year of enjoyment, he knew that he needed to sell the home to begin a new chapter in Atlanta. 

“His goal to have a “simple cottage getaway” is energized by his choices throughout: confident furniture shapes, rich colors, and an expressive collection of art,” Smith added.

Decidedly splendid while meeting the needs of a weekend retreat, the Serenbe House combined luxury with restraint and eccentricity that has made a mark. 


Interior Design: Ryan Hughes and Smith Hanes Studio
Interior Architecture: Smith Hanes Studio
Photography: Tim Lenz
Builder: McKinney Builders
Words: Sheyda Mehrara

Living Room: COUP Studio Italian Chairs in LIAIGRE Linen, Elizabeth Eakins Rug through Holland & Sherry, Vintage Coffee Table, Sandra Jordan Drapery Fabric through Holland & Sherry

Kitchen: BassamFellows Spindle Counter Stools, clé Tile, RW Guild Lamps, Collection Particuliere BOS Vases, Urban Electric Bishop Flushmount, Sandra Jordan fabric on Cafe Curtains through Holland & Sherry, Hardware through Matthew Quinn Collection

Dining Room: OCHRE Sable Chairs, Vintage Table, Fisher Weisman Custom Gilded Cage Chandelier, Perrine Paris Drapery Fabric through Wareco, Paint Color – Bancha by Farrow and Ball, Bastiaan Woudt Photography through Jackson Fine Art

Bar: clé Tile, Henry Bar Faucet and Brass Basin by Waterworks, Custom Shelving designed by Smith Hanes Studio

Master Bedroom: Lawson Fenning Bed in Zak+Fox Linen, J Liston Charred Wood Nightstand, LIAIGRE Acier II Table Lamp, Phillip Jeffries Wallcovering, Rug through Moattar, Drapery in Holland & Sherry Linen

Media Room: Vintage Sofas through Eneby Home, Woven Chair through The Renner Project, Chandelier and Art Lights from Visual Comfort, William McClure Painting, Rug through Moattar, Tuell+Reynolds Shinjuku Drink Table, Drapery in Zak+Fox Fabric through Holland & Sherry

Guest Bedroom: The Beautiful Bed Company Twin Beds, Vintage Lamp, Hickory Chair Nightstand, Zak+Fox Drapery and Pillow Fabric through Holland & Sherry, Phillip Jeffries Wall Covering, Bruce Lee Paintings through the Webb Gallery.