Mike Galifianakis and Frances Finegan desired a home in Druid Hills, one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods, but their must-haves — a two-car garage and an apartment space — seemed insurmountable.
When they found a house with those two features, the couple also saw potential in the wide interior spaces and the lot of two-thirds of an acre. There was room, indoors and out, to transform the property into a handicapped-accessible home for Mike, who uses a wheelchair.
The changes to the home, which is on the April 19-21 Druid Hills Home Tour and on property originally owned by the Candler family of the Coca-Cola Co., enabled it to be ramp-free but still easy to enter and maneuver within the house.
“We just felt lucky in a home that old that we were able to do that,” said Galifianakis, whose cousin is actor Zach Galifianakis. “What’s neat is you almost wouldn’t know that a wheelchair user lives here.”
Residents: Mike Galifianakis and Frances Finegan. Galifianakis is the Americans With Disabilities Act coordinator for the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission; Finegan, a former lieutenant colonel who served 20 years in the U.S. Army, is a former attorney who now works part time at The Cook’s Warehouse in Decatur.
Location: Druid Hills
Size: About 2,250 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths. The attached apartment is 792 square feet, one bedroom, one bath.
Year built: 1948
Year bought: 2007
Architectural style: Early American
Renovations: A number of renovations made the home wheelchair-accessible. Six doorways were widened to 32 inches by design/build firm Sterling Works. Galifianakis’ dad, also named Mike, is a tile and stone contractor. He designed an extension of the driveway to circle around the original driveway and provide a way to seamlessly enter the home through the patio and kitchen without steps or ramps. “It’s universally designed so anybody can come into our home, younger or older,” Finegan said.
The door automatically opens for Galifianakis, using a system by Power Access of Connecticut and installed by Atlanta-based Armor Lock and Safe. They modified the master bathroom by removing the tub and creating a roll-in shower with a hand-held sprayer.
Design consultants: Meg Adams Interior Design, L.F. Saussy Landscape Architects, Miller Landscaping, Dixie Glasshoppers, Meadows Outdoor
Interior design style: Traditional, with hidden functionality
Favorite interior design features: The kitchen floor’s black-and-white hex tile, which is bordered by a Greek key pattern in red and beige. The tile was existing in the home. “It just kind of drew me in,” Galifianakis said. “Because I’m Greek, everyone thinks we did it.”
Favorite artwork: They have an original seascape by Hawaiian artist Roy Gonzalez Tabora and an original still life by Rino Gonzalez, who is Tabora’s cousin. Finegan became familiar with Tabora’s work while stationed in Hawaii. Prints by Peter Galifianakis (Mike’s uncle) are in the kitchen, and they also have cartoons by Nick Galifianakis (Mike’s cousin) and a still life by Pauline Canto (Mike’s grandmother).
Favorite outdoor feature: The porch, which has a New Orleans-style wrought-iron railing, Finegan said. The rubble quarry tile floor dates to the 1940s.
Design tip: The couple uses three chairs, instead of four, in the living room and family room because the wheelchair needs to maneuver and fit into the space. Finegan adds that using indoor/outdoor carpet, on top of a tile that looks like wood, is wheelchair-friendly.