where Pam Sessions and Don Donnelly raised
their two children, sat on a 21-acre farm in Forsyth
County. When suburban sprawl began encroaching
upon their rural environs in the early 2000s, the
husband-and-wife builders fought fire with fire,
turning much of their lot and nearby property into
the groundbreaking, award-winning new urbanist
community known as Vickery Village. Soon after,
they transformed downtown Woodstock into an
upscale live-work-play district and went on to build
dozens of smaller neighborhoods and more than
4,000 homes across metro Atlanta.
In 2014, with the kids away at college, the couple
reinvented their domestic life once again by mov-
ing back into the city. High school sweethearts, Pam
and Don grew up in Dunwoody and have always
been closely connected to Atlanta—with Pam, for
example, serving on the boards of both the Alliance
Theatre and Southface. “We knew we wanted to get
in town, but picking a place was a lot harder than
we realized,” says Pam.
First they moved their company, Hedgewood
Homes, into a 1930s-era house on a quiet side street
off Buckhead’s Pharr Road. It wasn’t long before
they decided to move their residence next door. “It’s
the perfect commute,” says Pam.
Ironically the street, home to both cottage indus-
tries and a handful of private residences, is basical-
ly an organically developed microcosm of the sort
of multiuse communities that their firm pioneered.
Technically located within the boundaries of his-
toric Garden Hills, Pam and Don’s street fell under
architectural restrictions that prevented them from
substantially altering their home’s original foot-
print. But as experienced builders, the two knew
how to live large in small places. They installed
space-saving pocket doors and removed walls to
extend sight lines. “The house was a rabbit warren
of small rooms,” says Pam. Now, from the central
dining area, you can see to the living room fireplace
on one side, and down a hall leading to the new-
ly added master wing on the other. In the den, a
built-in banquette provides
efficient seating for holiday
gatherings. They also turned
the home’s low ceilings into
an asset, covering them in
whitewashed pecky cypress.
“We use all of this house.
That’s what I was striving
for,” says Pam. “I can’t say
that about our 5,000-square-
foot house in Forsyth. Every-
thing about this house feels
right-sized. It just fits.”
Touches of whimsy show up throughout the
house. The bright teal seen on the kitchen cabine-
try is repeated on a velvet sofa with brass nailhead
trim in the living room. “I just find the color infec-
tious,” says Pam. A black-and-white-checked front
stoop was inspired by the couple’s travels in Eng-
land. “Coming out of the recession and being an
empty nester, I felt like being happy,” says Pam. “I
just decided to go for it.”
at l an ta maga z i ne’s home
W I N T E R 2015
When Pam and Don were newlyweds,
they squandered the $600 they’d
saved for a sofa on their first painting.
They have remained avid collectors of
works such as the Brigham painting,
left. Upon buying this house, they re-
acquired a few major pieces they’d sold
during the recession when the friend
who’d bought them relocated. Below
right, their cottage has quirky spaces
like this alcove near the front door.
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