Forever Home

Architects Richard and Lynielle Long and designer Katherine B. Melvin team up to give Mountain Brook clients a house that balances the past with a brights version of the future.

Photography by Jean Allsopp – Styling by Kathleen Varner

When architects Richard and Lynielle Long met with clients looking to build a house for the empty nest chapter of their lives, their mandate was simple. “They wanted a cozy home with charming details that could accommodate both family hangouts and social gatherings,” Richard says. They also had a special request. “They asked that we incorporate ‘grandkid magnets’—hence the swimming pool and the bunk beds in the playroom.” The pool, with sight lines from the den, porch, and outdoor kitchen, is the nexus of the home. “The master suite and garage wings embrace the pool area, helping provide a sense of privacy,” says Richard. Landscape architect Paul Lell created a green swath between the wings anchoring it in place.

The entryway greets visitors with warmth before opening into the bright living areas. The architects added detail to the ceiling to distinguish the living room from adjacent spaces. Bookshelves display of favored accents.

Inside the house, the floors, paneling, and some ceilings are white oak with varying stains to customize each space. The architects sought to distinguish the open kitchen from the family room with different ceiling treatments—waxed oak over the kitchen and painted trim over the family room.

For her part, designer Katherine Melvin, along with associate Sellers Gully, met with the couple to create a narrative for the new house. “We spent time at their previous home, talking about what they liked about it and what the new house could offer while still carrying the thread of their family’s journey,” she says. “We usually start our projects by putting together an overall scheme using fabrics, tile, paint, and flooring samples. We throw it all on the table and then start to break it down into rooms until the character of the house becomes clear.”

Left: The kitchen, dining, and living areas flow together seamlessly thanks to the neutral palette. Furnishings and architectural details create distinction. Walls are painted Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore.
Middle: The architects designed the cabinetry and millwork for the cozy study. Katherine chose Cadet Gray by Pratt & Lambert for the cabinetry and a wash for the ceiling.

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For this brand new house, all new upholstery was in order. With the help of Circa Interiors & Antiques, the owners chose classic silhouettes, all skirted for a casual attitude. Katherine helped her clients select fabrics in pale shades and then added a variety of textures. In the living room, sofas wear a performance fabric for durability. Pillows are velvet, and the ottoman is covered in leather. Steel blue lumbar pillows add a touch of dimension.

We used a mix of washed finishes on the paneling. White oak is such a lovely wood that we didn’t want to hide the grain with too much stain.


“The home was built so that the couple could live and entertain all on the same floor while still having space for children and grandchildren to stay,” Katherine says. The upstairs bunk room, clad in all white, received pops of color from pillows and artwork, giving the youngest guests a room tailored just for them.

The master suite is all indulgence, with layers of softness contributing to a cocooned effect. To create interest in the monochromatic palette, Katherine used textures like the velvet headboard, embroidered pillows, a wool rug, and an African headdress hanging over the bed. A pale blue check on the bench and chair pillows adds a dose of pattern. In the spacious bathroom, marble tile floors and wainscoting lend an old-world vibe.

With so many spaces for both privacy and entertaining, the owners have found the perfect balance—a place to call their forever home.

I love fabrics and textiles. I’m very drawn to color, pattern, and texture. That’s always the launching point for any project.


RESOURCES: Architect: Richard and Lynielle Long; Long & Long Design Inc. • • 205.637.5777 •
IG: @longandlongdesign
Interiors: Katherine Melvin; Katherine B. Melvin Design • • 205.767.6436 • IG: @katherinebmelvinMore work by Katherine Melvin
Vessel on kitchen island: The Nest
Kitchen table: Holland & Co.
Upholstery: Lee Industries
Hardware: Brandino Brass
Custom headboard, pillows, drapery, main bedroom and living room rugs: Katherine B. Melvin Design
Oriental rugs: Paige Albright
Lamp and table in living room: Bunny Williams
Lighting: Circa Lighting
Paint: Walls: Swiss Coffee, Benjamin Moore. Cabinets: Cadet Gray, Pratt & Lambert • Exterior: Amazing Gray, Sherwin-Williams
Pool: Performance Pools

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