California Cool

The stunning modern architecture of this Brookwood Forest home was appealing to its new homeowners looking for a cool L.A. vibe. With the help of designer Lisa Flake, they created a true showstopper.

This house was like nothing we had seen before in Birmingham—it had great bones and lots of custom accents, and we knew we could put our touch on it to make it work us,” says Melissa Colvin, who along with her husband, Whit, fell head-over-heels for the modern Brookwood Forest home from the first moment they saw it. Designed by Israel & Associates and inspired by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the house offered lots of open space, lofty ceilings, a private lot, and too-many-to-count windows letting in an abundance of natural light. However, the 7,800-square-foot home also came with a lengthy list of updates needed to modernize its original 1988 design and create the sleek California look Melissa wanted.

- Sponsors -

To make it happen, the Colvins brought in two tried-and-true professionals-turned-friends—architect Brian Jernigan and interior designer Lisa Flake. Brian fashioned a better floor plan by moving around some doors. He also reconfigured the bathroom to create the ultimate master retreat. Lisa refreshed every room, opting for sleek white cabinets and a waterfall-edge island in the kitchen. For the décor, she chose varying shades of white, black, and earth tones to create continuity. Then she added interest with various fabrics and textures. “We achieved exactly what we wanted: a modern space that’s also welcoming and relaxing,” says Lisa. “It’s truly a showpiece.”

The main entrance opens to the great room and staircase. To make the staircase more of a statement piece, the Colvins removed its original and extremely outdated wood paneling and replaced it with a thick wall of glass anchored by discreet steel brackets in keeping with the sleek, minimal aesthetic.

“When buying art for a specific room, I want it to be the last layer that defines the room,” Lisa says. A black sculpture from one of Lisa’s go-to Atlanta shops, Pieces, anchors a corner of the dining room. Other standouts include the illuminated sculpture from Gallery 1930 above the sideboard and the trio of framed works by Jane Timberlake Cooper that Lisa found at Maison by Pam Evans. A collage of Japanese prints by Frances Mayhall in the sitting room is from Circa Interiors & Antiques. The wire Vibia chandelier makes a serious statement above the white lacquered table and black, gray, and white ombré chairs from 1st Dibs.
“We absolutely love the modern feel of this house and all of the natural light. It’s the California style we really wanted.” –Melissa Colvin

Mad for Modern

Want to create your own modern masterpiece? Designer Lisa Flake shares her style tips.

1) Choose furniture and accessories with simple lines and sculptural appeal. In the den, sling-back camel-colored cowhide chairs play off the chunky, custom cocktail table by Ben Bludsworth.

2) To keep a space from feeling cold, opt for warm undertones. Think honey-hued neutrals and warm grays in fabrics and finishes. Add in well-edited, personally meaningful art and accessories, such as the figure by local artist Catie Radney.

3) Maintain a consistent color scheme. White, black, and earth tones create drama and allow the black furniture and accessories to pop.

4) Consider scale. Because of the home’s soaring ceilings, abundance of windows, and open layout, we opted for heavy furniture to ground the rooms and then added interesting fixtures and bold artwork to draw the eye upward. The fireplace makeover in the great room helps delineate spaces thanks to its strong, architectural lines and black marble.

5) Add depth with texture and contrasts. In the den, an Italian 3D-surfaced tile creates interest above the fireplace. In the master bedroom, an antique desk chair and starburst mirror add just enough of a playful mix of styles.

In the master bedroom, Lisa paired a desk from CB2 with a lamp from Circa Interiors & Antiques. Above the desk is one of Melissa’s favorites pieces: custom artwork by McKenzie Dove.
Before With its pink tile and jetted tub, the master bathroom design was as dysfunctional as it was outdated. After Reconfiguring the space allowed for the addition of a see-through shower that overlooks the pool. Marble walls from Triton Stone, fluted wood cabinets, and a freestanding tub keep the room simple so as not to compete with the view.

Interior Design: Lisa Flake, Caldwell Flake Interiors, Remodel architect: Brian Jernigan, Fireplace design: Gary Justiss, Fireplace insert: Southern Fireplaces, Kitchen backsplash: Crossville Studios, Kitchen barstools: Details, 205.870.8005. Rugs: Hiltz Lauber, Wall color throughout house: Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore, Glass stair railing in entrance and mirrors in master: Birmingham Glass Works, Pool: Swimrite Pool Services,, GreenGo Aquatics,

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!