Double Take

Ten years and two projects later, this Homewood couple enjoys a home designed for entertaining and everyday living.

Perhaps the biggest change made to the Swateks’ home was the indoor-outdoor flow. A wall of windows was added to the back of the main living space, letting the natural light shine in and offering a great view of the backyard. A screened-in porch was also added off the dining room with retractable steel doors and windows to make the outdoor living space easily accessible. Photos by Heather Durham

The love of a good lot will sometimes get you to do things you may not normally do, like purchase a house, completely tear it down, and start from scratch. That was the approach taken by Rachael and Dax Swatek when they fell in love with their extra large Homewood lot. The couple purchased the property about 10 years ago and immediately started working with Twin Construction’s William Siegel and architect Joe Ellis to design a cottage craftsman abode. The new home provided the perfect layout for the family for a while, but eventually it needed some tweaking. “Your likes and needs change over the years, ” Rachael explains. “We enjoy entertaining, and the house just didn’t give us the right flow for that.”

The Swateks once again turned to Twin Construction, but this time to reconfigure the existing floorplan. The team—including architect Byron Smith—rearranged some of the main living areas to create a more open layout. Part of Dax’s office became a butler’s pantry, and the original dining room became the office. They added a new dining space that opens up to the living area for an easier flow, as well as a new sitting room with a wall of windows to expand the view of the backyard. A screened-in porch was also added off the dining room to create an indoor-outdoor connection. “We have great natural light in our backyard, and we wanted to let that light in, ” says Rachael. “The wall of windows helped lighten everything up, and we now have this wonderful outdoor living space.”

With a proper flow in place, Twin Construction interior designer Laurie Fulkerson stepped in to refresh the home’s décor and create a look that’s sophisticated yet still all about Rachael’s unique style. To pepper in Rachael’s eclectic personality, Laurie incorporated unexpected colors, patterns, and textures. In the dining room, which leans rustic with its reclaimed wood ceiling and exposed brick wall (formerly the exterior of the house), she added an Asian vibe with koi-patterned fabric slipcovers and bamboo chairs. Custom benches covered in an ombre fabric tie into the living room’s blue-velvet sofas, which are topped with bright pink Asian print pillows. In the office, Laurie combined western elements with an unexpected twist of black crocodile-patterned embossed wallpaper. “Rachael’s style is distinctive, unique, and edgy, so the more ‘out of the box’ we could go, the better, ” Laurie says.

The designer also focused on scale—the bigger the better. Oversized lighting can be found in the dining and living rooms, and certain furniture pieces are larger, such as the sitting room chairs. “The rooms are grand so smaller pieces would have gotten lost, ” Laurie says. “Plus, the Swateks’ personalities are so fun and outgoing that we had to match that by going big.”

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For built-in shelving in the living room, Rachael says, “I wanted it to feel softer, so we went with angles instead of basic straight lines.” To maintain the room’s proportions, Laurie designed larger-than-average openings.
The new sitting room includes a fireplace with organic, sweeping lines. Laurie also pulled in Rachael’s favorite Asian-inspired style with the gray-pebble fabric chairs from Moss Studio.
What used to be an exterior room became an interior dining space furnished with a custom table from The Nest and a buffet from Lolo French Antiques.
In the new butler’s pantry, Rachael opted for floor-to-ceiling cabinets to maximize the storage space.
Gray walls set off navy blue fabrics in the master bedroom.
Relocating Dax’s office allowed for more master closet space, complete with shelves and drawers.
The black crocodile-patterned wallpaper is what makes Dax’s office so sleek and stylish, and it was actually his one request. Laurie painted the trim Pratt & Lambert’s Black but kept the ceiling lighter so it wouldn’t be overkill.
The new screened outdoor living area sits just off the dining room and is anchored with a limestone fireplace. “The retractable steel door and windows (on the interior wall) connect it to the dining room, meeting our goal of having everything opened up with a great flow,” Rachael says. The reclaimed wood is from the Old Taylor Distillery in Kentucky. “Dax loves bourbon, so it’s cool that we were able to get it, ” Rachael says.

Builder: Twin Construction • 205.802.3920 Designer: Laurie Fulkerson/Twin Interiors Architects: original property: Joe Ellis, Dwelling Architecture • 205.790.1389 · Renovation: Byron Smith, studiosmith Architecture LLC • 205.994.1516 Landscape design: Falkner Gardens • 205.871.5999 Dining room: chandeliers: Ro Sham Beaux, Twin Interiors Chair fabric: Harlequin, Twin Interiors Lanterns: Alabama Gas Light & Grill • 205.870.4060 Sofas: Emporium Home, Twin Interiors Pillow fabric: Cotton & Quill • 205.438.6514 Butler’s pantry custom cabinets: Recreated Cabinets • 205.275.6898 Cabinet color: Pratt & Lambert,  Woodwitch Cabinet hardware: Anthropologie Console table: Twin Interiors Artwork: Christopher House Antiques • 205.581.0202 Sectional: Restoration Hardware Steel windows and doors: Bessemer Glass • 205.428.3218 Interior wall color: Benjamin Moore White Dove Office: wallpaper and rug: Twin Interiors ceiling color: Sherwin-Williams Backdrop

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