An Eye for Style

It took three years for this homeowner to finish the design board for her 1934 Homewood cottage—Why so long? She wasn’t about to start a renovation without having a complete plan in mind. That plan included new colors, finishes, and furnishings—along with a complete kitchen remodel. “I wanted to make sure that I would be happy with my choices, ” she says. “I had made mistakes before.”

Keeping her design board close at hand, she added and deleted magazine tearsheets as inpiration took hold. After pinning and repinning, she came up with a plan. “I’m not a designer. But I love reading about it and learning about it. All you have to do is pay attention to good design and see what is available.”

Game trophies are a part of the home décor. Elk horns make a statement on the wall in the main living room. The rug is an Axis deer.

Insisting that “anyone could do this, ” the homeowner says her interiors are simply replications of rooms and fashions from her favorite designers.

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In some spaces, her interpretations of a designer’s aesthetic are dead-on. “Look at this photo, ” she says, pointing to her design board. “I have Stephen Shubel’s living room.” Certainly the Hermes-orange draperies are similar, as are the strong punches of black and the animal prints—but the savviness to put it all together on a budget with local resources is a talent in and of itself.

Part Shubel and part pure homeowner, the living room’s accessories are truly personal. Above the sofa hangs a silk botanical—picked up years ago at a Junior League antiques sale. The intertwined dolphin mirror becomes whimsical with the addition of butter plates arranged to look like bubbles coming from the fishes’ mouths.

Aside from new décor, the home received a brand new kitchen thanks to help from Mitch Bradford of Saunders Bradford. Taking inpiration from the kitchens of Jill Sharp Brinson (Creative Director, Ballard Designs), and Pamela Pearce (Milieu magazine), the owner replicated beams, the vaulted ceiling, swing arm lamps, the large glassed door and window across the back, and the herringbone floor. The builders worked with the owner to hand-place each piece of wood to match grains and create the perfect design. “It was great to work with someone who could understand my ideas, ” she says.

Now complete, the house reflects this owner’s fashion and design favorites—with a sensibilty all her own. 




Design board aka “Old-Fashioned Pinterest”

The kitchen boasted original casement windows from Hopes Windows in England, the owner says. “We tried to get them to build us a window wall to match, but it would have taken months. Thankfully, Mitch found a great resource in town.”


Taking inpiration from the kitchens of Jill Sharp Brinson (Creative Director, Ballard Designs), and Pamela Pearce (Milieu magazine), the owner replicated beams, the vaulted ceiling, swing arm lamps, the large glassed door and window across the back, and the herringbone floor.

Inspiration for the dining room is pure Giorgio Armani. A Pinterest search for “Giorgio Armani Dragon Dress” reveals the fashion designer standing next to a model in a vibrant green dress adorned with a jeweled serpent. Here, the look is translated into chartreuse draperies and Chinese-inspired blue porcelains. Slipcovers pay tribute to dressmaker details. Shhh…. the table is a plastic folding restaurant table covered in Hobby Lobby fabric. And the chairs are second-hand from an estate sale.


ABOVE LEFT An antelope hangs in the dining room above a pretty assembly of blue-and-white porcelain.

ABOVE RIGHT A painting by Melanie Morris hangs above a bureau in the dining room. Depicting fields of lavender on a lush green background, the art perfectly complements the room’s chartreuse draperies and shades of blue.

The Chinese theme carries through to the master bedroom. Here, Scalamandre’s Chi’en Dragon from King Cotton covers a custom headboard. With little space, the owners added bookshelves above the windows that wrap the exterior perimeter of the room.


ABOVE LEFT Fresh hyacinths perfume the living room with their sweet scent.

ABOVE RIGHT A nature lover, the owner purchased these antique staddles because of their resemblance to mushrooms. (Staddles were designed to support hay and grain bins so they didn’t sit directly on the ground and air could circulate and keep the contents dry. The tops of staddles were rounded to prevent rodents from climbing into the hay or grain stored above.)


Kitchen: general contractor: Mitch Bradford, Saunders Brafdord 871.1717 •; Floor [100-year-old white oak]: KMAC Greenworks 320.0940. Iron window wall: Shea Scully 322.2651. Cabinetry: Chris Ryan, Village Woodworks 965.7949. Finishes: Daniel Whitsett, Paintworks Design Studio 296.5638. Countertops [Alabama White marble]: Susan Vise & Will Casey, Fragments Inc. 458.0002 •; Appliances: Allsouth Appliance 942.0408 •; Sconces: Ashley Lawrence, Mayer Lighting Showroom 583.3400 •; Outdoor lantern: Architectural Heritage 322.3538 •; Draperies: Lori Jack, The Curtain Exhange 871.7575 •; French poles: Fay Bailey 428.3520. Painting: Melanie Morris, [email protected]; Light fixture: Suzanne Kasler for Circa Lighting (Note: The fixture comes with glass inserts, bu the owner opted to leave them out for an airy look.) 404.233.4131 •; Tablecloth fabrication: Fay Bailey. Slipcover fabrication: Mei Wang 837.8818. Garden stool: Christopher Glenn,; Flowers & plants: Hall's Birmingham Wholesale Florist 322.4627 •; Living room: floor covering [Sisal, Veracruz]: Sandra Deshazo: Olde World Acquisitions 868.2832 •; Drapery and pillows construction: Fay Bailey. Shades: Lori Jack: The Curtain Exchange. Chandelier & wall light: Circa Lighting LED. Lighting in the beams: Ashley Lawrence, Mayer Lighting Showroom. Fireplace paint (SiLazur): Elizabeth Richards, Eco-House Inc. 506.366.3529 •, Banquette & couch: Verellen,; Upholstered chairs: Restoration Hardware,; Entertwined dolphin mirror (antique): Betsy Homan Interior Design 210.824.1959 •; Antique butterfly print:  Campbell's Melange, campbellsmelange.comHall bath: tile floor [custom design of homeowner]: Lori Scott, Kenny & Co. 323.5616 •; Fixtures: Waterworks through Lori Scott, Kenny & Co. Orchids and centerpiece: Hall's Birmingham Wholesale Florist. Master bedroom: floor covering (Sisal, Veracruz): Sandra Deshazo, Olde World Acquisitions. Custom fabrication for draperies, bed linens, & pillows: Fay Bailey. Headboard fabric: Scalmandre Chi'en Dragon through King Cotton 322.5878 •; Shelves/woodwork: Pribyl Works 215.1445.

text by Cathy Still McGowin • photography by Jean Allsopp

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