A Second Renovation Just in Time for Christmas

A Vestavia Hills cottage receives a second renovation by interior designer Meredith Sherrill just in time to celebrate the season.

Living room with exposed beams decorated with a large wreath above the fireplace and Christmas tree.
Photos by Jean Allsopp

“Sometimes, we are so eager to get our tree that we go the night of Thanksgiving,” says the homeowner. “We always buy a 9-foot tree at Vestavia’s Mountain Scout Sale (scouttreesale.com). That’s a must.” 

The Homeowner

This year, the family’s tree stands tall in their new den recently completed by interior designer Meredith Sherrill, who oversaw the home’s first makeover on the exterior prior to this more recent interior expansion. The owner purchased the home nine years ago with the intent of eventually renovating it. “We loved the location, and the house was well-kept,” she says. “We knew it had potential and that we could make it our own over the years.” And after living in it for a while, the family realized exactly what they needed—a more functional living space that would include a new den and kitchen within a footprint that felt true to the home’s original cottage feel. “I wanted something homey that wasn’t too fancy, where kids would feel comfortable coming in and out for snacks,” the owner says. “I knew that Meredith and our contractor, Cherry & Company, could do the renovation—and do it well.” 

As Meredith drew the architectural plans for the new kitchen and family room, which involved moving the dining room into the old living room, she also worked in warm material selections like soapstone, planked walls, and beamed ceilings to give the house coziness without clutter. “We wanted to create minimal, comfortable interiors,” says the designer. “I also wanted to feature some of the great antiques that the owner has collected over the years, such as the beloved dining table that was passed down through her family.”

“I love the outdoors, so I wanted earthy tones and lots of natural light throughout my house. I wasn’t looking for anything trendy. I wanted it all to feel timeless.” 

The Homeowner

With the interiors revamped and the holidays approaching, the owner then turned her focus toward seasonal décor. She called on Buffy Hargett of Buffy Hargett Flowers to lend her finishing touch to the home. “I went with an all-natural, green-on-green Christmas scheme,” says Buffy. “People often think they need to have a lot of red to decorate for the holidays, but I like to take a more subtle approach, especially for families with a lot of activity in the house. Green feels soothing. And you can always add in a pop of color, like I did with chartreuse ribbons throughout the house.” 

Holiday Visions

Buffy Hargett, Birmingham’s floral and styling extraordinaire, relays her best tips for simple Christmas decorating.

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Fakes aren’t a faux pas.
“When hung up high, like the wreath over the TV in the den, I prefer to use fake greenery.
It’s so far away that no one will be able to
tell it’s not real. Plus, watering something that high can just be a pain,” says Buffy. 

Make the everyday feel festive.
“There’s no reason to move a perfectly good orchid out of the way during the holidays,” Buffy says. “Instead, I add holiday elements such as pine cones and curly sticks to the arrangement to make it more festive.”

Topiaries are timeless.
“I just cannot get enough of the myrtle topiaries from Shoppe,” Buffy says. “They are great for year-round decorating, but for the holidays, I like to tie white bows around their stems and fill their bases with lemons and limes.” 

Ring the wreath.
“There are many ways to use a wreath besides the obvious one,” says Buffy. “Of course, I hang them outside and inside, but I also like to use them as festive ‘collars’ like I did under the fruit bowl in the kitchen. It’s such an easy thing to do.” 

Poinsettias are always on point.
“They are the Christmas flower for a reason,” says Buffy. “They last forever, but you don’t have to buy just red. I prefer white varieties, and I like to repot them in nice containers throughout the house for a subtler take on the traditional holiday flower.”


Architectural and Interior design: Meredith Sherrill Builder: Cherry & Company Landscape: Falkner Gardens Kitchen Cabinets: Top Grain Woodworks Hardware: Brandino Brass Appliances & Bath Fixtures: Ferguson Countertops: Surface 1  Tile/Backsplash: Triton Stone Group  Floors: Steve Kelley Flooring Ceiling Beams: Evolutia Upholstery & Dining Chairs: Circa Interiors & Antiques Walnut Buffet: Maison de France Antiques Paint Colors: All walls, trim & ceiling: Tapestry Beige (Benjamin Moore) Kitchen Island and Cabinets: Jogging Path (Sherwin-Williams) Powder Bath: Link Grey (Sherwin-Williams) Exterior Brick: White Chocolate (Benjamin Moore)  Shutters: Vale Mist (Benjamin Moore)

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Zoe Gowen

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