Gathering Place

ABOVE The Vails’ home is kid-central on their tucked-away street in Mayfair.

The buzz of activity around the Vail home in the Mayfair neighborhood of Homewood is downright electric. Kids of all ages flit in, out, and around the very attractive hive. Some are in the backyard on the trampoline, some are playing billiards on the third floor, and others are starting a football game in the front yard. If the proverbial screen door were in play, it would be bravely hanging on by one hinge, if at all.

The Vail family: Deanne and Tyler with sons, clockwise from left, Griffin (15), Cannon (7), Carter (12), and Drew (10).

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Deanne, a dentist with a practice in Homewood, and her husband, Tyler, an attorney, understand the beauty of their home’s location—a flat corner lot on a tucked-away street brimming with other families in the midst of raising their children. They loved everything about it, which is why they lived in a two-bed-one-bath cottage with three young sons for many years. When the fourth boy was due, the couple knew the seams were about to burst. After looking at countless houses in Homewood, they realized the old saying is true—“there’s no place like home”—with home, in this case, referring to the choice walkable location and the families who had become, well, like family. “Our neighbors have been there for us when we brought each boy home and were such a support when we needed to be at the Brookwood NICU for those late-night visits—it’s hard to describe how much we wanted to stay, ” says Deanne. So in 2010, the Vails decided to donate their home to Alabama Youth Homes (now known as King’s Home) and build a new one. “It was 10 o’clock on a Monday school night, but the whole street came out to watch the house being taken away, ” says Deanne. “It was poignant; there was a lot of history being moved—a lot of babies grew up here long before we moved on the street in 2003.”

After living in a modest space for such a long time, the Vails knew just what they wanted—an open floor plan for the kitchen and family areas, a separate dining room that is not completely closed off from the action, a hardworking outdoor room that delivers on all fronts with a fireplace and plenty of room to watch football, a ground-floor master suite, and a third-floor boys’ paradise. No space is off-limits to the neighborhood kids. “Sometimes I come home to find a tangle of limbs piled up on the master bed watching TV, ” says Deanne.

Interior designer Julie Terrell entered the scene a few years later to add some stylish details, architectural elements, and comfortable, perfectly-scaled furniture, but still some things never change. As Deanne says, “Everyone still ends up in our master bathroom a lot of the time, even though we now have four-and-a-half baths. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

ABOVE The kitchen, already a great open space, was updated with fresh gray paint for the island.

ABOVE The dining room exudes sophistication, but it’s not fussy as the pecky cypress wall and weathered iron chandelier keep it grounded. Julie commissioned a painting by Birmingham artist Cecily Hill Lowe, which is now one of Deanne’s favorites things in the home.

ABOVE Texture in the fabrics adds depth to the master bedroom's neutral palette.

ABOVE “The Vails had struggled a bit in the family room because it is a walk-through area that also needed to accommodate their large family and many friends, ” says Julie. “We ended up choosing a 96-inch sofa and a mix of seating options, all in family-friendly fabrics.”


ABOVE LEFT The same pecky cypress treatment in the dining room extends to the family room bookcases, providing continuity on the main floor.

ABOVE RIGHT The outdoor room, a popular hangout spot for all ages, is where Julie brought in some orange and steel-blue colors, which are a departure from the neutral interiors. The vaulted wood ceiling and stacked-stone fireplace bring rustic refinement to the room.

Meet the Designer

Julie Terrell owns Mayfair South in Homewood. Before getting her degree in interior design, she received a master’s in art history, which is reflected in her work. She’s attuned to composition, color, and restraint. Julie recently launched an online boutique devoted to her favorite color, blue. “I had an epiphany while looking at the Tower Bridge in London, which has blue trusses. and everything just crystallized about the boutique. There’s décor, lighting, rugs, and accessories—all in blue and white.”

On Style: I don’t have a signature look because my work is very client-specific, but I do like a mix of classic with some contemporary pieces. I like to use repeating elements to tie rooms together like the pecky cypress in the Vail house. I prefer simple and refined furnishings rather than trendy items, and I believe in investing in the highest quality pieces that you can afford.

On Scale: It’s so important that you choose the correct size of furniture for a room or it won’t be comfortable. When it comes to planning a space, I’m old school and like to create a CAD schematic. If you have an odd-shaped room, you may have to consider investing in some custom pieces.

On Neutrals: I like using varying tones of the same color to bring interest to neutral rooms. Texture is also key—layering different textures keeps the eye moving about the room. Even neutral spaces can evoke warmth.

On Art: I try not to let my background get in the way too much because art is very personal, and I want to be respectful. However, with my clients' permission, I do often commission pieces that bring out the best in the surroundings as far as the style and color palette.

Interior design: Julie Terrell, Mayfair South • 205.602.8656 Builder: Colt Byrom, Byrom Building Corp. • 205.980.7424 Wall finishes: Daniel Whitsett, Paintworks Design Studio • 205.879.2751 Dining room: rug: 18th Street Oriental Rugs • 205.870.3838 Console: Argent Antiques • 205.871.4221 chandelier/dining chairs: Stock & Trade • 205.783.1350 draperies: Tolbert Drapery, LLC • 205.631.9725 art: Cecily Hill Lowe • 205.807.1856 Kitchen: roman shades: Hunter Douglas counter stools: CB2 art: Cecily Hill Lowe Family room: leather ottoman: At Home Furnishings • 205.879.3510 draperies: Tolbert Drapery, LLC Outdoor room: chandelier: Restoration Hardware Master bedroom: rug: 18th Street Oriental Rugs bedding: Three Sheets • 205.871.2337 Lamps: Henhouse Antiques • 205.918.0505 Bench: Lolo French Antiques et More • 205.323.6033

Text by Alice Welsh Doyle // Photography by Jean Allsopp

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