Decorating over time takes a lot of patience, especially when most homeowners want it done “right now!” But that’s when mistakes can happen and spur-of-the-moment decisions become costly regrets. “So many young people want to go out and buy everything at once, ” says decorator and shop owner Iris Thorpe. “I always advise homeowners to buy one really nice piece of furniture (or art) per year, ” she says. “You can build a collection quicker than you realize.” Working with this particular Homewood client, Iris says she did it right and the decoration evolved over several years. “Of course you always need to start with a plan, ” Iris says. “When approaching an individual room or whole house, I work with my client to choose all the pieces at one time. First we shop their house and evaluate the items they already have. Then, we pull fabrics and colors and lay it all out.”
When Iris started this project, the home needed a major renovation. Cyndy Cantley of Cantley & Co. tranformed the kitchen and Twin Construction helped with the nuts and bolts of the building process. And an abundance of white paint (Cotton Ball, Benjamin Moore) instantly brightened the circa 1920s home, setting the scene for the owner’s pretty assembly of antiques.
Most furnishings are French or English—investment pieces that will move well with the family to their next home. Rooms are uncluttered and accents are deliberate. The owner’s collections include pretty silver and equestrian art.
“We worked quickly to finish the project for the homes tour, ” says Iris. And, thankfully, Birmingham had plenty of local resources willing to lend a hand.
Meet Iris Thorpe
A Huntsville, Alabama native, decorator Iris Thorpe opened her shop, Iris & Co., five years ago. Stemming from her passion for work as a decorator with a need for retail, her small storefront in Cahaba Heights exhibits just a snippet of her sense of style. Filled with a curated mix of Southern artists, African artifacts, antiques, and dazzling furniture and lighting by Niermann Weeks (she’s the only dealer in Alabama! You can skip the trip to Atlanta!), her designs are classic with just the right balance of old and new. Fifteen years of living in New Orleans honed Iris’s knowledge of divergent cultural influence, not limited by era or origin. “I fell in love with the mixing of genre within the same room, ” Iris says. “I love contrast and the element of surprise. I learned to make formal antiques more approachable by mixing them in to a casual setting.”
Stop by the shop. You don’t want to miss her one-of-a-kind finds, art, and fantastic resource room. Need more of her goods to peruse? Iris is the only Birmingham shop on Taigan.com—and she’ll be one of the Tastemakers this fall at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD HOMES TOUR
Every other year, the Holly Oak Garden Club selects historic homes to feature for the Hollywood Homes Tour. The next tour will be 2015. Ticket sales help maintain plantings and flowers in public medians, as well as holiday greenery and bows. Other proceeds benefit Shades Cahaba Elementary School.
Designer: IRIS THORPE, IRIS & CO. Vestavia Hills, Alabama · 205.969.5727 • irisandcompany.net Dining room: vase: NIERMANN WEEKS through IRIS & CO. painting: McDONOUGH FINE ART Atlanta, Georgia • mcdonoughfineart.net rug: PAIGE ALBRIGHT ORIENTALS Mt. Brook, Alabama • 205.877.3232 • paigealbrightorientals.com mirror: KING’S HOUSE ANTIQUES Birmingham, Alabama • 205.877.3232 • kingshouseantiques.com sideboard/lamps: ROBERT HILL ANTIQUES Birmingham, Alabama • 205.326.0088 • roberthillantiques.com Kitchen: design: CYNDY CANTLEY, CANTLEY & CO. Birmingham, Alabama • 205.324.2400 builders: TWIN CONSTRUCTION Homewood, Alabama • 205.802.3920 • twincompanies.com countertops/cabinets/subway tile: KENNY & CO. Birmingham, Alabama • 205.323.5616 • kennycompany.com appliances: ALL SOUTH APPLIANCES Birmingham, Alabama • 205.942.0408 • allsouthappliance.net hardware: BRANDINO BRASS Homewood, Alabama • 205.978.8900 • brandinobrass.com paint: BENJAMIN MOORE banquette cushions: custom through IRIS & CO. table: KING’S HOUSE ANTIQUES Living room: candlesticks: ROBERT HILL ANTIQUES vessel: JULIE SILVERS through IRIS & CO. coffee table: CIRCA Mt. Brook, Alabama • 205.868.9199 • circainteriors.com upholstery: custom through IRIS & CO. Bedroom: canopies/linens: IRIS & CO