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TWO-CAREER HOME: This busy Atlanta TV couple values comfort, elegance

Project Features

Tinah Saunders March 1990

"TWO-CAREER HOME: This busy
Atlanta TV couple values comfort, elegance"

The secret to a happy marriage, WSB-TV's Chris Curle told recently wed step-daughter Laurie, is
two bathrooms, two cars and a microwave oven.

She laughed as she repeated her advice but insisted she was serious. Glamour aside, the practicalities of life for Ms. Curle, 43, and her husband, WSB-TV news anchor Don Farmer, 51, are no laughing matter.

Their home in an established intown neighborhood is seen as a sanctuary and retreat by the pair. It's the place where he can wok up dinner for two or a few and she can plant trees and watch her birdfeeders - a comfortable, casual house that reflects the sophistication of these two well-traveled journalists.

Ms. Curle and Mr. Farmer were, for seven years, professional as well as marital partners when they served as co-anchors of CNN' s "Prime News" and "Evening News" programs. Before that, their careers took them to London and Bonn, West Germany, to Central America and the Far East.

Hired by WSB/Channel 2 in 1987, today the couple keep different schedules, with Mr. Farmer co-anchoring the 6 and 11 p.m. weekday news and Ms. Curle the news at noon and 5 p.m.

So when the couple decided to move into town from Sandy Springs four years ago, leaving a five bedroom, three-bath house, they looked for something smaller. "We wanted to simplify our lives." Ms. Curle said.

"And we didn't want something we had to remodel," Mr. Farmer added. They found an 1,800-square-foot, two-story house under construction in an older neighborhood of modest homes, had builder Larry Neustadt finish the interior to suit them and added a large screened porch.

The three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath house has not been "decorated" but arranged with favorite furnishings and accessories they have collected over the years.

"We decided early in our marriage," said Ms. Curle, "that we didn't want a showplace for a home. We wanted a place that we could feel comfortable and where our friends would feel comfortable."

A friend who is a designer recommended the monochromatic interior color scheme and the black-background wallcoverings for the bathrooms.

From the street, the gray-shingled house presents a charming traditional face. But inside, tradition gives way to the urbane, with sleek, contemporary spaces that seem to flow from one area to another. The interior is stripped of traditional embellishments, such as moldings and a mantel for the fireplace in the living room. Window treatments are minimal. White track lighting enhances artwork and furnishings, while recessed lighting in the dining room washes walls with soft light.

Walls throughout the first floor are painted taupe with white trim, a subdued background for contemporary furnishings spiked with the couple's collection of antiques and polished brass.

Mirrored walls expand the modest spaces still further.

Upstairs, the three bedrooms are "livable" but far from ideal, said Ms. Curle. "What we'd like to do is to knock out a wall in the master bedroom and add a fireplace, but we probably won't do that in this house."

Like most two-career couples, Ms. Curle and Mr. Farmer say they live only in the kitchen and bedroom during the week - a fact that prompted a just-completed 400-square-foot renovation.

Sawhorse Inc. contractors enclosed the screened porch to create a spacious dining room and removed the wall that separated a small kitchen from the former dining room to double the size of the kitchen.

"We knew it [the kitchen] was too small when we bought it," said Mr. Farmer, "but we thought we could live with it. We couldn't."

The new kitchen features white Euro-style cabinets, gray granite Corian counter tops, white ceramic tile floors, a dual-level preparation island/dining bar and a window-lined corner where Ms. Curle takes care of personal business at a white laminate desk. Under the sink are bins for recycling glass, aluminum and paper, which Ms. Curle takes to a nearby recycling center two or three times a week.

Resting in a corner of the prep island are three remote-control units for a color television housed in a cabinet above the refrigerator, a VCR and a sound system.

Mr. Farmer is the cook in the family, concocting original dishes without benefit of recipes - "They always have too much of one thing and not enough of the other." Although the well-equipped kitchen has a food processor, he prefers to chop and dice ingredients by hand. "It's therapy," he said with a smile.

The kitchen opens to a small glass-enclosed porch that leads to the new dining room. Both areas are floored with slate tile unifying the spaces and adding to the sense of continuity. The dining room is brightened by a small skylight and a mirrored wall. At the far end, French doors open to a small brick patio and a garden.

A Turkaman rug hand-woven in Russia about 50 years ago, but purchased in Atlanta, provides a spot of color for black lacquered contemporary dining table and chairs and echoes the colors in a poster from Willi's Wine Bar in Paris, a favorite haunt. The table is set with an embroidered lace cloth, fresh flowers and fine china in a delicate ivory, blue and rose pattern. On this particular evening, Ms. Curle has planned for their 18th wedding anniversary one of the small dinner parties the couple prefers. "Just family and a few friends," Mr. Farmer said.

One step up from the dining room, through a wide opening in the low wall, is the living room, where a white leather sectional sofa curves around a fireplace with chrome and brass surround and ceramic- tiled face and hearth. Polished hardwood floors, a glass and acrylic cocktail table and brass accessories contribute to the clean, uncluttered look. In niches on either side of the passageway between the living and dining rooms sit a 3-foot-high brass Russian samovar and a brass incense burner found on their travels in the Middle East and Far East.

A large contemporary television occupies one corner, while in another is one of Mr. Farmer's collection of antique radios. "It was really a radio like this that got me into this business," he said. As a boy in his hometown of Ferguson, Mo., he used to lie in bed at night and see how many out-of-town radio stations he could tune in. "I even kept a notebook of all the ones I listened to."

Mr. Farmer's favorite piece - an antique roll-top desk found in several pieces at a garage sale in Hannibal, Mo., and lovingly refinished by the elder Farmers for their son - sits in another corner.

The massive work center hides a computer and "an incredible amount of junk." It is here that Mr. Farmer, who began his career in newspapers, likes to play w ith words.

"I love to write more than anything, but as an old editor of mine once said, `When you write for television, you write in sand.'

"And that's true. But words are fun, and someday I'd like to write again - maybe a column."

Copyright 1990, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.

By Tinah Saunders Staff writer, 03-11-1990.

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