Playful & Pretty

Kate Hartman and Kelly Neely, co-designers and co-owners of Chickadee Interiors, created a family home that stands up to little hands and big messes without sacrificing its savvy style.

This Homewood farmhouse is home to Elizabeth and Austin Adams and their two preschool-age children. “The porch was a big sell for me because Austin and I are both from Southern Louisiana and porches are something we grew up with,” Elizabeth says. Photos by Holland Williams

When homeowner Elizabeth Adams hired designers Kate Hartman and Kelly Neely, co-owners of Chickadee Interiors, she told them, “I want my home to be pretty, but I also want it to have some kind of whimsy. My husband and I in our 30s and have young kids—I have the rest of my life to be serious.” The designers took her words to heart and transformed the family’s Homewood abode from farmhouse to fabulous. “The house had been renovated in 2014, and we bought it in May 2018,” Elizabeth says, so it didn’t require any remodeling. “We immediately loved the feel of the home.” She explains that the says the five-bedroom floorplan is actually more than they need as a young family with two preschoolers. “But it has great flow, it’s functional for the kids now, and we have space to grow,” she says. “I just wanted to tweak it to make it my style. It felt like a farmhouse because it is one, but I wanted the inside to be more contemporary.”

Prior to moving into this home, Elizabeth and her husband, Austin, had lived for years in tiny spaces with temporary furniture while he completed medical school, residency, and fellowship. “We bought this big house, and I had no idea where to start,” she says. “It was so open. I knew it needed to flow.”

Enter Kate and Kelly. “The main level’s open floor plan is great and challenging all at the same time,” Kelly says. “It makes it difficult to design a flow that also works well with some fun selections.” One thing that unified the main level was shiplap on many walls. “The previous owners emphasized the cottage style,” Kate says. “But we wanted to downplay the wood plank walls and let them be more of a cohesive background to the new vibe we were trying to create.”

That fresh new vibe included painting all the walls the same creamy white and injecting the fun and whimsy through furnishings and accessories. “Elizabeth is not afraid of color, and we love color too,” Kelly says. “We had so much fun with the fabrics and palette.” Elizabeth’s personal preferences lean feminine toward pastel pinks, purples, and blues, but she also loves bold, graphic black-and-white pairings. The designers brought those two seemingly opposing choices together in every room, and their handiwork links these rooms—formal living and dining rooms, kitchen, family room, master suite, and the kids’ upstairs bedrooms—“while also letting each room have its own story,” Kate says.

- Sponsors -

In almost every space, a main character in that story is white upholstery, even in the kids’ areas. Sure, it’s gorgeous and feels very fresh, but it’s also durable.

“We chose family-friendly materials—performance fabrics and rugs—for larger, long-term investment pieces,” Kelly says, “and non-performance ones for accessories—throw pillows, stools—that would see less attention from little hands.” Elizabeth feels the design hits its mark. “When you look at my house, it may not appear kid-friendly, but it is thanks to Kelly and Kate,” she says. “My kids are wild, but we can quickly clean things up.”

The formal living room at the front of the house has a fireplace where sage green tiles were painted white. “That made the whole room feel more polished,” Elizabeth says. A white sofa outlined in black piping and chairs in a black-and-white print host pastel and graphic-print pillows.

The main floor’s public spaces share a backdrop of shiplap walls painted creamy white and a curated selection of art alongside a few antiques. “There are so many great patterned performance fabrics throughout the home—fun and formal all at the same time,” Kate says.

In the kitchen’s eating space, performance fabric-wrapped seats rest on wishbone chairs. “The kitchen lighting is a bit more modern,” Elizabeth says. “This midcentury fixture is unexpected but it works, even with the shiplap!” Adds Kelly, “In contrast to the modern chandelier, the mirror over the sideboard brings a bit of formality.”
“I loved the idea of using pastels,” Elizabeth says of the master suite, “but I wanted to make sure it was not too feminine. Austin lives here too.” To bring a masculine air to the home’s palette, the designers added depth with deep purple, brown, and gray. “It feels moodier with the purple velvet and the bolster’s watercolor print,” Elizabeth says. Behind the headboard, drapes open to let in abundant natural light or close to create a wall of drapery fabric.

Touches of gold—the chandelier, drapery hardware, and frames on art—formalize the space.    

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

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