Simple Sophistication

When Adele and Stites Whatley turned to Chris Reebals of Christopher Architecture and Interiors to design their new home in the Moore’s Mill Club neighborhood in Auburn, their request was to construct an inviting and seemingly effortless space that would also be stylish and unique. “We were looking at pictures online, and there was something about Chris’s designs that just kept drawing us back again and again, ” Adele explains. “His ability to blend contextual elements to create a home that’s beautiful and elegant yet uncomplicated and easy really drew us in because that’s what we wanted in our home.”

The “U” shape of the house created a cozy back porch and courtyard for the Whatleys.


The Whatley’s needed the home to be family-friendly for their two young children and also open for entertaining since they are located in a college football town. To fit their needs, Chris designed a floorplan that included private quarters for the family on each end of the home with a large public space for entertaining in the center. “The entertaining space in the living room blends seamlessly with the kitchen, breakfast, and dining spaces, as well as the backyard patio and courtyard, ” Chris says. “While we made sure to create those open spaces, we also wanted to give it some definition. If you leave it too open, it's just one big room and people tend to get lost in the space.”

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Careful to create that fine balance, Chris varied ceiling heights and cased openings that transitioned the flow from room to room. For example, the foyer is compressed and then opens into the living room with a tall ceiling. “Such changes give you a different experience in each room—even though they are open to one another, ” he says. 

He also created definition with strategically placed architectural details such as the custom-designed leaded glass cabinetry located between the kitchen and the neighboring breakfast room. “The space doesn’t arbitrarily bleed from one area to another, ” he says. “Both rooms have distinction, yet they embrace each other and are still easy to flow between.”

To achieve the subtle sophistication the Whatleys desired, natural elements and clean lines were incorporated—both inside and out. On the exterior, Chris went with Alabama blue stone and had it cut to specifically feature clear, defined lines. The Spanish cedar front door and rubbed cedar columns on the back patio echo the natural wooden elements found inside, such as the hand-hewn cedar trusses in the living room, hand-scraped walnut floors, and washed pine ceilings. Other organic elements like the limestone fireplace in the living room and the mosaic marble wall in the kitchen speak to the family’s affinity for all things natural. “Using materials that have both clean lines and an organic feel help to emulate nature and create a look that’s really beautiful and timeless, ” Chris says. “And as they age they will only get better.”

The Whatleys continued the simple sophistication with a neutral color palette for the interiors. Walls throughout the home are varying shades of the same soft white to keep the organic elements firmly in the spotlight. “The house is warm, inviting, and comfortable, and yet it’s not something you see every day, ” says Adele.

ABOVE With the family’s passion for entertaining, Chris opted for a large center island in the kitchen that’s large enough for family and friends to gather around. The focal point of the kitchen, however, is the custom mosaic marble wall. 


ABOVE LEFT Adele chose a neutral palette for the house, including in the kitchen, where she opted for soft gray cabinetry.

ABOVE RIGHT Perhaps nowhere in the house can the natural elements be found more than in the living room. Here, Chris incorporated hand-hewn cedar trusses, hand-scraped walnut floors, washed-pine ceilings, and a limestone fireplace.

Architect: Chris Reebals of Christopher Architecture and Interiors • 3040 Independence Drive, Birmingham. 205.413.8531 Builder: The Letlow Company • 327 N Ross St., #102, Auburn. 334.728.5300 Landscaper: Blooming Colors • 1192 South Donahue Drive, Auburn; 334.821.7929 Kitchen cabinets, appliances, countertops: Cabinet Works • 2515 E. Glenn Avenue, Suite b205, Auburn. 334.821.7114 Kitchen backsplash: Cannon Carpet One Floor & Home • 3500 Pepperell Pkwy., Opelika; 334.749.1300 Kitchen cabinets color: Benjamin Moore’s Senora Gray Pendants above kitchen island: At Home  205.879.3510 Kitchen bar stools: Restoration Hardware Living area wall color: Benjamin Moore’s Stingray Sofas in living room: Pottery Barn Arched metal-top table in living room: At Home Coffee table in living room: At Home Trim color: Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee Exterior brick paint color: Benjamin Moore’s PastelShell Exterior brown: Benjamin Moore’s Espresso Bean

Text by paige townley • Photography by jean allsopp

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