Rental Wisdom

Artist McKenzie Dove turns a 1925 Forest Park condo into an enviable rental sure to attract lots of guests with pretty and practical choices throughout.

Vintage large linen press
Artist McKenzie Dove mixed vintage pieces such as this large linen press that houses the television with items like the mid-century leather armchair and sleek black coffee table. Stacking several identically framed prints is a great way to make even inexpensive art look more meaningful. This grouping includes historical scenes of Birmingham. Photography by Marta Xochilt Perez

Fine artists have a unique and often enviable eye. So when they turn their gaze towards other creative endeavors, the results are pretty magical. Native Texan McKenzie Dove, known for her moody and texture-laden canvases created with a palette knife, used her neutral-driven style in the renovation of a Forest Park condo-turned-vacation-rental. She also folded in some blues for a dose of color.

Not only is the condo super stylish, it’s also filled with original artwork by McKenzie that is totally unexpected, even in an upscale rental. In the dining space, oversized framed murals—featuring her signature warm black as the background color and a Greek key silk border—have an aged look. “It’s my version of chinoiserie,” says the artist. A hand-painted custom mural decorates the bathroom, and one of her large contemporary works takes a starring role over the living room sofa.

The condo is full of seagrass, rattan, and wicker with a melding of vintage and antique pieces such as mirrors, bedside tables, bed frames, and a linen press picked up at Hanna Antiques. She paired these with more contemporary elements like metal Bertoia-style chairs and an edgy white plaster dining table designed by McKenzie for a light and bright mélange.

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“Even though there are nods to Birmingham throughout the space, I wanted my guests to feel as though they were staying at a vacation destination,” says the artist. “The existing architecture at 42nd Street lent itself to a New England feel. The art, the interiors, and the rental’s shell logo that I designed are intended to make guests feel as though the Nantucket shoreline is right outside.”

The whole experience hints at a new career for the artist as a decorator, but McKenzie says she would miss the absolute freedom she feels in her studio where she flings paint around with great abandon. “I am constantly making a mess and constantly cleaning up, only to make a mess again,” McKenzie laughs. “I guess that’s the life of a working artist.”

Visiting Forest Park? Walk through the tree-lined, historic neighborhood. Visit MK Quinlin, an upscale vintage clothing store, or Shoppe, a charming garden shop with English conservatory. General is both a store and dining spot. For libations, pick up a bottle at Red or White, or stop in for a cocktail at Juniper.

McKenzie Dove
McKenzie Dove finds inspiration in nature. “I like coral, plants, stone, and wood—mediums with textural underpinnings,” she says. “I also studied Impressionist and Expressionist artists. A lot of my knife work is influenced by them.”

Playing House with McKenzie Dove

Love McKenzie’s rental? Take her tips for creating her look in your own guest space.

Decorate with things you love: Use items you would choose for yourself. I think guests appreciate a more stylish and personalized place to stay.

Seek unique finds: Shop antique and thrift shops and seek out places on your travels for cool pieces with low price tags. This will give your rental a unique feel rather than looking like everything came from a big-box store.

Work with existing elements: I kept the blue tile in the bathroom and simply refinished the hardwood floors. I also kept the kitchen cabinets and countertops. These things are pricier to update, so I tried to use what was there as much as possible.

Easy updates: McKenzie’s husband applied the interior trim and molding. This is a creative way to dress up flat, sheetrock walls and add architectural interest. Fresh paint and new hardware and light fixtures are also inexpensive ways to make a big impact.
For condo rental information: IG: stayat42nd

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