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Updating a brick house

After practicing architecture for nine years in Manhattan, focusing on commercial work and public housing, Amy came home to Atlanta to renovate her mother's ranch-style house and contemplate the next step in her career. "I liked redesigning my mom's house, and I thought, 'I'm on to something with these ranch-style houses, so I think I'll just stay,' " she says.

Nearly 10 years later, examples of Amy's thoughtful reinventions dot the rolling hills of Valley Brook, Garden Hills, and Buckhead, where her reputation continues to grow by word of mouth from one happy homeowner to the next.

Good Bones"We had a little split-level, and we'd gotten bored with it," says Amy's mother, art gallery owner Frances Aronson.

" Amy designed around the existing footprint and what she calls the "good bones" of the house.

She transformed it into an Italian villa, complete with a terra-cotta-hued stucco exterior and a wisteria-draped pergola, and launched her new career in the process.

"She worked with what we had, took out walls and ceilings, exposed the beams, and opened it up," says Frances.

"It doesn't have that much more square footage, but it seems spacious.

She made it comfortable." Amy and her husband of six years, Warren (a contractor, who is also her business partner in Amy Vaughan Inc.

Design/Build), nearly doubled the square footage of their own ranch-style home.They kept only the foundation and some interior walls."We like the idea of taking a ranch-style house and actually transforming it," says Warren, standing amid stud walls and carpenter's dust in the evolving foyer of their all-American ranch-turned-Colonial home.Even when the couple tears down much of an original house, they try to save some of the old and blend it with the new."Warren and I can find great shortcuts with our plans because we've worked together so much," says Amy."I'm such a different kind of architect now for having done design/build projects.I used to say, 'That would be so beautiful, but let's just see what it would cost.' Now I come in and say, 'Cut this; cut that,' and make it work within a budget.I think that's what clients find valuable--achieving the look they want but controlling costs." Investing in Each Other Clients come calling after seeing Amy and Warren's work, loving it, and hearing positive feedback about the couple."I really like Amy's sense of scale and proportion," says Jaime Davenport, who with her husband, Jim, had renovation in mind when they bought a Buckhead ranch-style house."I like what she did in our old neighborhood of Garden Hills, and when I met her, we just seemed to connect.She's really laid-back and is very easy to work with." Many clients like the fact that this builder-and-architect team is also a husband-and-wife operation.

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