Ivy Schuster comes by her interior design talents naturally. “Growing up watching my mother and grandmother pursue their artistic endeavors certainly inspired me to pursue mine,” she says. Her husband, Josef, also benefitted from growing up with his craftsman father who started a home-remodeling business 47 years ago. Today, father and son work together creating custom cabinetry and designing renovations in the family business called Kitchen Potential. “My husband is incredibly talented,” Ivy says. “A lot of the features that set our house apart, such as millwork pieces designed to look like high-end furniture, were specifically made by Josef.”
The Schusters’ home is a cottage in the Hollywood enclave of Homewood. When the couple first married, they felt comfortable in the small home of 1,900 square feet. But once their first child was on the way, they began a renovation to enlarge the tiny 8- x 8-foot kitchen. “Then it developed further to add a master suite on the ground floor and playroom on the second floor,” Ivy says. “One thing led to another, as most renovations do, and now almost no room has gone untouched.”
The three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home includes a large, open kitchen, as well as formal living and dining rooms and a master suite on the main floor. “The kitchen is the room Josef and I felt the most passionate about,” Ivy says. “He is the cook in our family, and he studied every aspect of the space to get the layout just right.” Cabinets and appliance panels are a beaded inset Shaker style painted slightly darker than the walls. “This look is one of our specialties,” Josef says. “The bead and the frame are one piece.” Countertops and backsplashes consist of a honed quartzite that looks like marble. “For the ceiling where the new and old rooflines come together, Josef had the idea of covering it with 6-inch, tongue-and-groove, white oak planks,” says Ivy. A contemporary drum light fixture adds the perfect, simple silhouette that complements the more complex ceiling transition.
Thanks to architect Michael O’Kelley, the addition melds seamlessly with the original structure. “I think the best renovations make it difficult to tell where the new structure begins, so we thought carefully about how to achieve that,” Ivy says. ”I love that we were able to maintain the historic feel of our home while modernizing it to be more livable for our family’s lifestyle.”
The added square footage gave the Schusters room to grow, but, Ivy says, she and Josef were diligent about how they outfitted both the new and the old. “I wanted to do this right and know that we had thought through everything in great detail,” she says. “We also wanted to avoid any trends so that our home would stand the test of time.”
To that end, the couple chose neutral finishes—plaster walls with a venetian-like texture, wood floors in a warm custom stain, and accents of stained white oak for warmth. “All of these elements can go with anything, allowing the space to evolve over time as each room takes on its own personality through the furniture and art.”
Atop that neutral canvas, Ivy created a masterpiece for her young family. “I think interiors are essentially a work of art that you get to live in,” she says. “The best ones are not only beautiful but also extremely well-planned and functional.” The home’s furnishings reflect both Ivy and Josef’s personalities and influences. “We’ve incorporated pieces that hold great memories from our travels and from our families,” Ivy says.
“I think mixing our more modern design aesthetic with these items that remind us of people and places we love makes the interiors one of a kind.” And while she admits that the project was certainly not easy, Ivy explains that it was very fulfilling to use their professional skills to do something for their own family. “This house will always be special to me because Josef and I got to create it together.”
Meet the Schusters
Designers at Home and at Heart: Josef Schuster (below with wife Ivy and daughters Julia and Milly) and his dad, Mike, are the designers/renovators behind longtime local business Kitchen Potential. “He’s a craftsman,” Josef says of his father who learned construction growing up. “He doesn’t cut corners and is inspired to do things the right way.” Josef grew up helping in the backyard cabinet shop and later worked summers and school breaks with his dad. “I stayed the course after graduating and worked my way up to do framing, trim work, and installations,” he says. “Then I moved into the shop and, most recently, to the position of design and sales. Because I enjoy cooking and being in a kitchen, I have a good grasp of what’s functional.”
Ivy Schuster’s background is in commercial design, but recently she has started doing more residential work. In 2006, Ivy joined Rebecca Hatcher, one of Birmingham’s first commercial designers, in the firm that Rebecca founded in 1979. In 2015, Rebecca offered Ivy the opportunity to buy the business, and Hatcher Schuster Interiors was born. “Rebecca continues to be a great mentor and friend,” Ivy says. “I am grateful to her for trusting me with the business she created.”
Resources: Builder: Kitchen Potential kitchenpotential.com 205.870.8467 Interior Designer: Hatcher Schuster Interiors hsinteriordesign.com 205.324.3442 Architect: O’Kelley Architecture okelleyarchitecture.com 205.637.1124 Landscaping: Brown Pratt Landscapes Inc. 205.965.0391 Millwork: Kitchen Potential Plumbing Fixtures: Fixtures & Finishes fixturesandfinishes.com 205.323.5616