Karen Rodriguez Named Top Atlanta Luxury Real Estate Professional

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Exclusive listing broker and founder of KORA real estate group Karen Rodriguez has been named one of the top luxury real estate professionals in Atlanta by Atlantan magazine. This is the third year in a row that the “Buckhead condo queen” has been chosen for this honor.

In less than two years, Karen and her team have amassed nearly $45 million in sales at The Residences, selling a landmark 11 homes in 2015. Karen founded her own luxury real estate firm, KORA, last year.

 Also featured in the magazine was Residence 52, a brand new full-floor home at The Residences that is currently listed for $4.3 million. You can view the digital edition of Karen’s feature here.

Q&A with Interior Designer Betsy McBride of Harrison Design

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Unique, high-quality design is a vital aspect of The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Therefore, the team at Harrison Design, the firm that is responsible for the interior finishes of the luxury high-rise condos, is tasked with creating contemporary homes with upscale details that will last a lifetime.

Interior designer Betsy McBride is an expert when it comes to selecting modern, aesthetically pleasing finishes that are known for their quality and durability. We asked Betsy about her work with The Residences, and where she sees luxury condo design heading in 2016 and beyond.

How did you know you wanted to be an interior designer? Have you always had an eye for design?

McBride: I was always interested in design, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that passion. I received a degree in art history from the University of Georgia, and started working for an art gallery that was located in ADAC (Atlanta Decorative Arts Center). Working around all of Atlanta’s best designers made me realize that interior design was what I really wanted to do with my life, so I went to the Art Institute of Atlanta and obtained a BFA in interior design. The rest is history!

How did you choose the finishes for The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta?

McBride: We wanted to select finishes that would be unique and interesting, while also having a timeless quality. We tried to stay away from anything that is too trendy. We have several palettes that we created to appeal to a wide range of buyers. Each unit is unique in layout and/or materials so that no two are exactly alike; they are truly custom homes with luxury amenities.

What sets The Residences apart from other luxury homes?

McBride: For one thing, the finishes. The owners understand the luxury market and allow us to select higher end materials such as stunning marble, beautiful mosaics and high-end plumbing fixtures and appliances. Also, each unit has large windows and balconies with amazing views that can’t be beat.

What are some of the most unique luxury condo amenities you’ve seen?

McBride: One of the great things about living in a hotel residence like Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta is that you can take advantage of the hotel amenities. Who wouldn’t want a wonderful spa and delicious restaurant right downstairs? Plus, having a great concierge that will assist you with anything from travel plans to booking reservations is quite a luxury.

What are some design trends you think will be big in 2016?

McBride: It looks like pattern and color are making a comeback. There has been a lack of these things for many years, with people tending to stay with neutral palettes. I am very excited to get to play with mixing patterns and colors again!

Hot Design Trends for 2016


The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta are known for their sleek, modern design and customizable nature. Top interior designers like Barbara Westbrook and Robert Brown have created beautiful, trendy homes for condo buyers at the high-rise, and the continuing sales success at The Residences in 2016 will ensure another year of haute living. Check out some of the top home trends we’ll see this year.

With the rising popularity of tablets and laptop computers, many homeowners have forgone a traditional workspace in favor of a cushy sofa. However, House Beautiful predicts that 2016 will mark the return of the desk, many made with luxury materials and impeccably organized for a stylish, functional home office.

Ultra-modern has been in for a while, but The Wall Street Journal thinks monochrome will be more popular than ever, especially black metals. This no-fuss material gives spaces an industrial edge while matte finishing adds an element of style, especially when blended with wood or glass.

Again combining old school and modern, Elle Décor predicts that formal dining rooms will make a comeback this year, but with a few 21st century upgrades. Bold design, chic lighting and amenities galore keep these rooms fresh and ripe for entertaining.

Best Healthy Eats in Buckhead

Butternut squash pizza and harvest chop salad at True Food Kitchen.

It’s the first week of January, and New Year’s resolutions are in full swing. Whether you’ve vowed to do more yoga, try new things or simply take better care of yourself, a healthy, delicious meal is the perfect step in the right direction. Buckhead is the culinary heart of Atlanta, and while steakhouses and hearty Italian kitchens abound, healthy options are easily found as well. Here are the top healthy restaurants in the posh neighborhood.

True Food Kitchen

With fresh-squeezed juices of all varieties and a bevy of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, True Food Kitchen satisfies all diet requirements while still being delicious. The open kitchen and sleek décor make this health food spot feel upscale, and the convenient location at Lenox Square is perfect for a post-shopping bite.


Café Sunflower

Vegan is the opposite of bland at Café Sunflower, a restaurant that uses meat substitutes like tofu, soy chicken and seitan in ways that make then even tastier than their carnivore counterparts. Stars include the crispy brussel sprouts with mae ploy sauce and walnut crusted tofu with kale.

Juicy Jenny

Describing itself as a “superfood emporium,” Juicy Jenny serves up a lunch bar of vegan delights. The menu changes daily, but includes salads, soups and sandwiches, including grilled yellow eggplant and tomato salad and even vegan tacos al pastor. For an extra health boost, grab an organic cold-pressed juice.

Seasons 52

Seasons 52 uses fresh, healthy ingredients to create an upscale menu spanning multiple food disciplines, drawing inspiration from Asian, Italian and southern culture. Everything is low-calorie, even the lump crab, roasted shrimp and spinach stuffed mushrooms and crispy braised short rib sandwich.

Sales Soar in 2015 at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta


Atlanta luxury condos are a hot commodity, and through innovative marketing and aggressive sales techniques, the team at The Residences had a banner year in 2015. The KORA team, led by exclusive listing broker Karen Rodriguez, sold 11 of the luxury units at The Residences, more than any other condominium building in the city. The sales totaled $25 million, cementing the Residences’ status as one of the top high-rise condo buildings in the city.

One of the sold homes was a massive, amenity-laden full-floor condo, with four bedrooms, four and a half baths and two spacious outdoor terraces. Additionally, one customizable “shell” unit was sold for over $3 million. These condos were two of the top sales in all of Atlanta in 2015.

Currently, the sales team is offering a second built out full-floor unit, Residence 52, complete with state-of-the-art appliances and a temperature-controlled wine wall.