When I was first invited to walk through the future home of Oconee Brewing Co., in downtown Greensboro, the dusty concrete and brick walls supporting the dilapidated roof, rotted by decades of neglect, wasn’t reason for pause. I only saw what the former Chero Cola plant was going to become.
Since our firm had completed the renovation and restoration plans, I was on site to present the selections of interior finishes, lighting, and furnishings to Taylor Lamm, master brewer, and John and Nathan McGarity, Oconee Brewing Company’s developers. To revive the historic details of the building, I suggested modern, glossy industrial fixtures and finishes to contrast the gritiness of the structure, while repurposing as much as possible.
Intriguing contrast is how you set the stage for truly great interiors – start with the depth of character that can only be earned by age and build upon it.
The brewery’s large event space will feature the original impressive weaving machines from the adjacent Mary Leila Cotton Mill against the rough brick walls and reclaimed wood trusses. Large industrial chandeliers will cast warm light from above. Adding further contrast and light, a massive glass curtain wall will allow the interior to dissolve to exterior as you move to the vibrant patio behind the building.
Another prominent space inside the brewery, the Tasting Room, utilizes shiny, matte, and enameled metal light fixtures and furnishings to balance the coarse concrete walls. Reclaimed wood from the roof system will be repurposed into the bar, warming this previously stark space.
The Oconee Brewing Co., team wants to draw people in with an intimate and inviting event space and tasting room that captures both the history of place and compelling design.
This idea of contrasting modern fixtures and finishes with historic foundations can be easily incorporated in your home as well.
Our circa 1904 home in one of Macon’s beautiful historic neighborhoods is a great example of Modern and Folk Victorian complements. In the kitchen, we built a full height 12-foot wall of black, flush front cabinets, with smoked glass accent wall cabinets flanking the stainless range and hood. Butcher block countertops and matte white pendants also add contrast to the older elements in the room such as the century-old heart pine floors, and the original fireplace with its hand-glazed tile fireplace hearth and surround, framed by the two tiered mantle with a beveled glass mirror. Antique glass in the large windows casts rippled light across the interior.
We purchased the house from Historic Macon Foundation as a virtual shell, with no plumbing, electrical, or central air. The heart pine floors were painted over and in need of repair. The brick footings were crumbling. We did everything we could to renovate the house while preserving its historic details and charm. My husband, John, stripped and polished every piece of original door hardware, and found matching hardware at the local historic salvage store to complete the sets. We spent hours digging through dusty old boxes in the heat of summer in order to match the original hand glazed tiles missing from the original four fireplace surrounds and hearths. The hours truly paid off when we were given a 2015 Preservation Award from Historic Macon for this project.
I have been fortunate to work on historic projects such as this and the upcoming Oconee Brewing Co., since I started my career as a designer for my architect father. I have always been in love with historic architecture, and – as Oconee Brewing Co., would no doubt agree – when you love something, you protect it.
– Carolyn Martin Reichert is a designer living in Macon, working for DMMA (Daniel M. Martin Architect, LLC). They specialize in distinctive, new and renovated homes that connect interior and exterior with their environment. Most of their work is in lake, mountain, and beach communities throughout the south, including Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and Lake Oconee.