No Place Like Home

A thoughtful renovation provided the perfect blank canvas for the homeowners' collections from global travels - each piece with a story to tell.

Photography by Jean Allsopp

Some people travel the world over in search of adventure. This Vestavia couple, however, must look no further than their own living room. Practically every area of the space features pieces from their many globetrotting escapades—special memories or stories from faraway places brought to mind by each and every one.

But the home wasn’t always such a personalized haven for the owners. In fact, for many years, the couple felt quite out of sync with their house. “The style was a little all over the place, not only with the design, but also with the functionality,” the homeowner says. “We wanted the space to have character, comfort, and cohesion, but we needed help to make that happen.”

Two wooden artfully carved oars are hung on the wall next to the staircase
Architect Carrie Taylor designed the modern staircase. Its clean lines and bright white walls highlight two wooden oars the homeowners purchased on a visit to Hawaii. For years, the oars sat in a closet because the homeowners didn’t know how to properly display them. Catori Design House had them custom-hung to serve as a stand-out centerpiece in the home.

“The entire house was designed to showcase the homeowners’ incredible collections. Every piece has a story to tell, and that story is carried from room to room.”

Terra Mimikakis, Catori Design House

Custom steel cabinets with glass shelving served as a driving force in the design of the dining room. The cabinets provide plenty of space to display small pieces from the homeowners’ travels, such as wooden bowls, blown-glass items, and small pieces of artwork. The thin, almost translucent Hawaiian bowls on the dining table are made from Norfolk pine, which was originally brought to Hawaii to form masts for ships.

Thankfully, the couple knew just where to turn to bring that vision to life and transform their outdated house into a comfortable yet carefully-curated home. It all began with a meticulous renovation orchestrated by architect Carrie Taylor, who artfully reimagined the disconnected areas. She began by opening up the kitchen to the rest of the main living area and adding doors off the space to make movement to and from the backyard easier. She also took great care in the small details, removing traditional elements such as trayed ceilings and incorporating custom moldings and recessed lighting with clean lines for a more modern touch.

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For the kitchen details, Carrie worked with Kristi Freeman and Terra Mimikakis of Catori Design House to meticulously plan out every feature for the homeowners, both avid entertainers. “Even the insides of the cabinets were specifically designed so that every item has a home,” Kristi says. “The sizes of some cabinets were determined by the size of the appliances. And we added outlets and charging stations in certain spots so that appliances can be used without even moving them. Functionality would be an understatement in this kitchen.”

Dark walls in the sitting room let the brighter colors of the furniture and art pop.

To continue refreshing and reimagining what the space should be, Kristi and Terra outfitted each room with comfortable, modern finishes that complement the homeowners’ art and collections. “The design was really driven by those collections,” Kristi says. “I don’t think there is an accessory in the home that doesn’t have a story behind it.”

The challenge became creating spaces and places to display the wide variety of items. Working with an array of art, blown glass, and wooden bowls, Kristi and Terra creatively showcased the pieces in specific spots, from the étagères in the living room to the glass-and-steel cabinets in the dining room. The designers also reframed all of the artwork to better coordinate with the modern space.

Sleek and modern kitchen with wood and metal accents

“To see everything we had purchased over so many years repurposed and displayed in a beautiful design—it’s like a diary of our travels and our lives.”

the homeowner

For the furniture, the duo selected artisan and custom furniture, such as the running man console table in the living room and the metallic, egg- shaped coffee table in the living room, to underscore the contemporary vibe. And adding to the wordly theme of the home, the dining room sports a black elm tabletop produced in a small northern Italian town just miles from where the homeowner’s mother grew up. Even with such a variety of pieces throughout the house, the end result is a comfortable, cohesive space that feels more like a relaxing retreat—no passport required.

To one side of the living room sits two large shelves filled with pieces from the home owners art collection and separated by a large framed photograph.

The Art of Display

From artwork to ceramics and antiques to tiny trinkets, there’s something truly special in seeking out unique finds— especially while traveling throughout the country or across the globe. Even better is bringing these items home and turning the collections into decorative focal points on full display. But figuring out how to do so in a beautifully balanced way can be over– whelming. Kristi Freeman and Terra Mimikakis of Catori Design House share their tips on creating and displaying collections.

Buy What You Love
Don’t assume that everything you buy has to be alike. Buy what you love, regardless of how varied each piece may be. “The collection should be about spirit and what speaks to you,” Terra says.

Mix and Match
A mix of materials, dimensions, and textures will create a much more interesting space. “It’s important to balance vingettes with a variety of items,” says Kristi.

Focus on the Art
When purchasing artwork, don’t get caught up in the frame. If you like the art, you can always reframe the piece later.

Go With a Group
Groupings could be based on color, shape, or material. For art, Kristi and Terra suggest measuring out the wall space first, then arranging the pieces on the floor to figure out what works.

RESOURCES: Interior Designer: Catori Design
Architect: Carrie Taylor
Builder: Slate
Kitchen cabinets: Parsons Custom Cabinetry
Kitchen and bathroom hardware: Brandino Brass
Appliances: Allsouth Appliance Group
Countertops/ backsplash: Triton Stone Group
Rugs: Ben & 18th Street Orientals
Lighting: Circa Lighting

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