Fashioned for Family

With a growing family and a need for more space, style and marketing guru Hannah Benak put her fashion sensibilities to use in a fabulous new build in Vestavia Hills.

Photos by Jean Allsopp

Hannah and Matt Benak knew they would soon be ready to start a family, but they also knew that meant there was a big task at hand: finding a new home with more space. After looking all over Birmingham, they stumbled upon a different option just a couple of streets over from their current Vestavia Hills home. “We heard about a double lot for sale that was slated to have two smaller houses on it,” Hannah says. “We left it as one lot because it would allow us to build the home we wanted and still have a big yard for our kids and entertaining.”   

With plenty of space to play with, the couple engaged architect Heath Clement to design the home. Their must-have list included an open layout, especially with the main living spaces. “I love to cook, and I don’t want to feel isolated in the kitchen when everyone’s gathered in the living room,” Hannah says. They also wanted a formal dining room and at least three bedrooms upstairs to accommodate out-of-town guests. Heath helped them maximize the square footage, adding ensuite bathrooms for each bedroom to fulfill another wish list item of Matt’s. “It was a great call,” Hannah says. “When we have family in town, everyone has their own space.”

The aesthetics of the home were just as important, as Hannah and Matt both wanted a timeless design that wouldn’t quickly feel dated or trendy. They approached every decision with that mindset, from paint colors to tile, keeping everything as clean and classic as possible. “We didn’t want to look back and regret any of our decisions,” Hannah says.

- Sponsors -

Creating a neutral palette of whites, creams, soft grays, and blues, along with using tried-and-true materials such as subway tile, Calacatta marble, and white oak beams and floors, Hannah was able to weave in pops of color here and there to reveal her energetic personality. In addition to seeking out design assistance from Caitie Morgan, as well as art and accessories from Laura Vogtle of Design Supply, Hannah also drew from her fashion background, blurring the lines between high and low by mixing antiques with bargain finds. Now the couple not only has aesthetically pleasing (and family friendly) design, but also plenty of space for their son, Teddy, and Yorkshire terrier, Coco. “It’s a thrill to be able to come home to this house every day,” says Hannah. “We worked so hard to get the details just right, and it’s everything we wanted it to be—comfortable, livable, and fun.”

A small passage to the dining room makes a big statement thanks to pecky cypress walls, a gold bench from Design Supply, and a painting by Matthew Mayes—an artist from Hannah’s hometown of Florence, Alabama.
The kitchen opens to the living room and features a center island for casual dining and extra storage. Hannah shopped Ferguson for plumbing fixtures, hardware, and appliances.
While Hannah chose a neutral color scheme for most rooms, she decided to go bright and colorful with a wallpaper accent wall (Citrus Garden by Schumacher) in the dining room.
The living room is fashion forward yet completely functional for a growing family. The upholstered ottoman is easy on toddling kids. Chartreuse chairs, along with artwork by Mary Singleton through Gallery 1930, provide a pop of color.
Hannah’s father, a master craftsman and owner of C.E. Black Custom Furniture, built the tiger maple vanity in the hall bath. “It’s my favorite thing in the whole house,” Hannah says. (IG @ceblackcustomfurniture)
Hannah wanted a calm, serene master bedroom, which she accomplished with the creams, grays, and soft blues in the bedding, pillows, and rug. The artwork is by Jennifer Gibbs through Gallery 1930/Design Supply.
The master bath features a marble tiled floor, freestanding tub from Ferguson, and custom drapery. A crystal chandelier adds glamour.
Hannah and Teddy share a playful moment on the front porch. Love Hannah’s look? She’s also the fashion columnist for Birmingham Home & Garden and curator of Looks & Merit. For more great style ideas, follow Hannah Benak at IG @looksandmerit or

Architect: B. Heath Clement, AIA, 205.586.4711 Interiors: Caitie Morgan Interiors, Paint colors: Trim: White Dove, Benjamin Moore, Walls: Pearly White, Sherwin Williams, Kitchen cabinets: Agreeable Gray, Sherwin Williams Kitchen island: Urbane Bronze, Sherwin Williams Master bath walls: Classic Gray, Benjamin Moore Ceiling beams and white oak hardwood floors: Evolutia, 855.277.5495, Cabinets: Deep Fried Southern Cabinetry, Tile: South Cypress, 800.891.2623, Countertops: Synergy Stone, 205.556.8115 Plumbing fixtures, appliances, hardware: Ferguson, 205.254.3454, Dining room: Brass side table: Defining Home, 205.803.3662, Living room: Antique Italian sculptor’s table, coffee table, charcoal chairs, pillows: Design Supply, 205.777.3464, Master Bedroom: Bed: Bernhardt, Bedding: Leontine Linens, Master bathroom: Chandelier: Restoration Hardware 205.967.1901, Tile: South Cypress Drapery: custom by Rollins Drapery, 205.841.0372, Hall bath: Sconces: Circa Lighting, Artwork: Carrie Carlton through Gallery 1930, Mirror: Ballard Designs, Plumbing fixtures: Ferguson, 205.254.3454, Marble top on vanity: Synergy Stone

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

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