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.
LEFT: In the renovation phase, Iris opened up door frames on either side of the fireplace to bring in light and add symmetry to the living room. When the owners purchased the house, they knew this wouldn’t be their “forever home.” Iris kept that in mind—investing in antiques over architectural enhancements or an additon. Most everything here will translate easily to their new home, she says.
RIGHT: A French commode resides in the hallway. This transitional piece would work just as easily in a dining room or bedroom. The mirror is a French antique.
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.
“In design school, they teach you that you should always start with the rug, ” says decorator Iris Thorpe. “You do have to have a starting point, but you should begin with what you love most, ” For the dining room, Iris started with the antique French Trumeau mirror from King’s House Antiques. “This was one of the first pieces the homeowners bought, ” says Iris. “We later found a rug that would play off the mirror’s gray-blue finish.” The dining table and chairs are antiques. The sideboard and lamps are from Robert Hill Antiques. “I love to buy locally. We have a great community of shop owners and antiques dealers, ” Iris says.
Iris designed the custom banquette (notice the drawers beneath) in the kitchen. A gray blue buffalo check fabric offers soft seating and ties in to the colors of the adjacent dining room. Cottage charm comes through in beaded board and French cane-back chairs. The dining table is a local find from King’s House Antiques.
The kitchen is splendid in its classic styling. The timeless look of Alabama white marble countertops, white cabinets, a subway tile backsplash (custom matched to the paint color by Kenny & Co.), and stainless steel appliances complement the traditional home.
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.
The master bedroom features a custom upholstered bed and custom monogrammed linens. Iris also customized a chandelier that came with the house. “We took the vintage chandelier and painted the whole thing white—crystals and all, ” Iris says. The inexpensive, easy update gave it just-enough of a modern look. A downstairs powder room (below) exhibits the only wallpaper in the house.
The house is a basic rectangle. Public spaces extend from a grand entry hall downstairs, and bedrooms mark the four corners upstairs. In a daughters’ room, Iris situated twin beds beneath canopies of pale blush. In the nursery (right), an antique Murphy bed is both pretty and functional. Opened, it’s just enough room for mom or dad to catch a few winks between nighttime feedings.
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.
Text by Cathy Still McGowin • Floral Design and Styling by Buffy Hargett • Photography by Jean Allsopp