Design Affections

A sense of kinship brings together designer and homeowner to give this home a contemporary edge.

Removing the wall between the front room and kitchen allowed designer Katrina Porter to create one large entertaining area that encompasses the dining area and kitchen. “We didn’t add any square footage, but the space functions so much better,” the homeowner says. Photos by Jean Allsopp

Friendship arises from many foundations, sometimes from an instant connection as kindred spirits somehow recognize each other on first meeting. And when personalities mesh in pursuit of a common goal, success is almost guaranteed. In the case of this Vestavia Hills renovation, a mutual admiration society was formed. “When I walked into the house, I felt a sense of immediate friendship, ” designer Katrina Porter says of her new client that she met through a mutual friend. The homeowner adds, “Something clicked that day. I didn’t bother to contact another designer.”

What began as a kitchen-renovation project soon expanded to open up and warm the space for family events and entertaining. Katrina saw the potential of the dining room as a family gathering space for a couple with four grown children who often come home to visit. “We only had to remove one wall to change the flow of the entire space, ” she says, adding that practicality shaped the design.

A wooden leaf pulls out of the island when extra dining space is needed.

The original kitchen layout was all wrong with no consideration for a cook needing to go from kitchen to sink to stove. “The space was dark, and the separate dining room was never used, ” Katrina says. “Now the whole area is connected.” The designer also put in refrigerator drawers on the working side of the island to house produce and dairy—things that are used every day. The drawers blend seamlessly into the reclaimed-wood island with its Alabama white marble waterfall top. A clever leaf design, made of a single, large piece of wood, slides out of one side to extend the dining or serving space. “The look of the new space is a lot cleaner and more contemporary, which fits the homeowner’s style, ” Katrina says.

Another goal was to create a smooth flow from the front of the house to the back with its golf course view. The wall removal allowed for that clean line of site. Katrina then instilled the interiors with a variety of textures—hand-painted fabrics, bleached-wood tables, suede, crushed velvet, even a lamp designed to echo ostrich-style nubs.

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Steel, which lies at the heart of Birmingham’s industrial beginnings, makes a head-turning accent in the kitchen décor. Katrina used the material to create a truly unique cold rolled steel stove hood and a steel-frame cabinet, warmed with wood shelves visible through its glass doors.

As the project continued, Katrina realized the family room needed an anchoring statement piece. She turned to friend and artist Carrie Pittman to work together on a 72- x 72-inch abstract painting. When designer, homeowner, and artist converged for a preview of the piece in progress, Carrie saw the need for something more to convey the homeowner’s ebullient spirit. Splashes of red on the dropcloth in her studio sparked a key element, and those same splashes were added to the artwork. The finished piece is reminiscent of the homeowner’s love of the sunsets that are visible from her own backyard. “The painting is life-giving and uplifting, ” says the homeowner. “I would never have taken the daring step [of commissioning artwork] without Katrina. Not only do I love the piece, but I also love everything about my newly designed house.”

Artist Carrie Pittman creates her work using eight or nine layers of paint, including a metallic hue that takes on a subtle appearance of liquid gold. In the painting above the sofa, a neutral beige serves as the foundation for the grays, taupes, and whites that blend with the décor. The red color was the last element added and perfectly completes the piece.
To refresh the fireplace wall, Katrina replaced the dark mantel with a light bright one with cleaner lines and added a wider tile surround. For AV storage and to replace the bulky armoire, the designer bumped out the wall to the left of the fireplace to create a hidden central command center. (Notice the door is slightly ajar.)

Interior design: Katrina Porter, Katrina Porter Designs, LLC [email protected] Artwork: Carrie Pittman Art • 205.266.7444 Construction: Slate Barganier Building, INC. 205.637.3373 Barstools, dining room sofa: Argent Antiques • 205.871.4221 Kitchen runner: Eighteenth Street Orientals • 205.870.3838 Custom cabinets: Katrina Porter, Crafted by Village Woodworks • 205.956.7108 Fabrication of steel cabinets and hood: Bradford and Hines • 205.324.9110 Alabama white marble slabs: Triton Stone • 205.592.0202 Cabinet hardware: Brandino Brass • 205.978.8900

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