Timeless Classic Style by Otto Zenke

Bettie Bearden Pardee of Private Newport is one of the chicest, most gracious ladies I know.  Everything she does from entertaining to flower design is done with elegance and perfection, and I admire her greatly. Recently Bettie and I were discussing her late mother and I quickly realized that the apple did not fall far from the tree.  I was delighted to learn that Bettie’s mother had worked with the late Otto Zenke, an illustrious interior designer whose work was not largely photographed. In 1950, Zenke opened a showroom in North Carolina called Otto Zenke, Inc. He designed and decorated primarily residential properties for another three decades and eventually opened offices in Palm Beach, Florida, and London.

In 1977, Bettie’s parents sold their home in Los Angeles and returned to Atlanta (Bettie’s home town) where they purchased a beautiful Buckhead home built by architects Ivey & Crook in 1950. While many of the main room furnishings from their former home (designed by Harold Barnard) were used, Otto Zenke was commissioned to place the existing furniture and fill in where necessary.  Examples of Zenke’s style can be seen in the pair of oval rolling ottomans designed to match the chintz of the LA sofa and his signature powder room. His touch is most obvious in the library where he concealed the television with a cabinet panel fronted with real leather book spines.

Thanks to old pictures saved by Bettie and her sister, below is a tour of this beautiful home… It is hard to believe it was decorated in the 1970s. I would move in today and not change a single thing! A true testament to the power of classic, timeless style and, of course, good taste.

Note the chic backless settee, a custom design by Zenke.

The wallpaper in the kitchen is the classic Madeleine by Raoul Textiles.
Otto Zenke concealed the television (above the partners desk) with a cabinet that was fronted with real leather book spines.

The powder room was conceived entirely by Zenke. Note how the borders are used to accent the corners. And to learn more about the chaise percée, click here.  These “borders” actually appear to be custom cut from Quadrille’s Climbing Hydrangea wallpaper. So smart!

Thank you, Bettie, for this beautiful tour! To learn more about Bettie Bearden Pardee, please follow her at Private Newport and on Instagram. You will also love her books Private Newport At Home and in the Garden and Living Newport: Houses, People, Style and the following past articles from The Glam Pad:


  1. Wow, it’s still au courant. Classic never goes out of style. What a beautiful home. It’s so gracious – a reflection of its owners, of course. Love the kitchen. That blue/green of the drawing room is a delicious shade. And a CP! The pool area is lovely too. At the time this was photographed, this type of décor was le dernier cri. I’m so pleased that people are finally coming back around to interiors like this – warm and inviting and chic.

  2. Thank you for this post! I live in Greensboro, NC, and have been lucky to see some of his work both here and in Palm Beach. It is sad that people are getting rid of the good “bones” he provided in spaces. Just last year a Zenke condo was re-done in Pottery Barn style…..I was horrified. He had put in a faux fireplace with built in shelving and a smokey mirror surround. There were specialty wood moldings and trim, wall sconces, and extras which made the space cozy and intimate. All Zenke touches gone except for the fireplace. All painted a dull light gray.
    I enjoyed his use of color. Bright, bold colors in Palm Beach and more muted colors in Greensboro. Always appropriate for the space. I remember several of his murals being painted over in the ’90s. Such a shame.
    I adored his style!

  3. Lovely home! Just goes to show that, if you have good taste, classic never goes out of style. Unique way to hide a bathroom commode, too. My dad and stepmother had a beautiful home in Buckhead at the same time Bettie’s parents lived there (interesting).

  4. As perfect today as it was in the 70’s. It’s a shame most people don’t appreciate timeless, classic beauty. So much is ripped out nowadays to make way for “trendy”. I’m with you Andrea! Wouldn’t change a thing! xo

  5. This is beautiful. I think the skill I appreciate most is knowing when to stop; I love the open spaces allowed in this home. It’s so satisfying, for me, to be in a well designed space that isn’t overly done. Also, I’m loving the rope trim (not sure what to call it) around the doorway and the window in the bathroom.

  6. I want to thank you for this tour and this blog. It’s made me fall in love with color again and also kept me company on a pretty lonely covid weekend. Thank you!


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