Summer Dreams

As the weather flirts with the prospect of warming, it’s hard not to begin mentally preparing for summer vacation—a retreat that is as much about tradition as it is about relaxation. For most Birmingham natives, summer means heading to the lake and for a lucky few, it means time spent in a Russell Cabin on Lake Martin.

Since the 1930s, Russell Cabins have been the quintessential lake hideaways. Dirt roads provide access and cabins are built with nature and families in mind, not gratuitous grandeur. You won’t find a cabin that sleeps 50 people, but you will find one with large rooms for eating communal meals and playing games, expansive windows, and deep porches. Perhaps the one and only downside to the Russell Cabins has been their lease-only policy.

Welcome to a new era, Alabama.

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Porches were built deep enough to accommodate daytime gatherings and summer cots for kiddies who want to watch the fireflies while they fall asleep.

For the first time in the history of Russell Cabins, it is now possible to purchase your very own cabin—to finally put a permanent stake and claim on your summer territory. Inside the entry of Lake Martin’s neighborhood The Ridge, the perfect piece of land was chosen to create the reserve of upscale cabins. Legendary designers Bill Farshee, Bill Ingram, and Taylor Dawson were chosen to create six different house plans for this unique community—plans that prospective home owners can choose from and amend where desired.

Great pains have been taken to create homes which work seamlessly with nature. Taylor Dawson’s design, Windward, includes expansive arrays of windows throughout the structure which provide natural sunlight and a communion with the surrounding landscape. The vaulted ceilings in the great room seem to mimic the openness of the skies and are in stark contrast to the 8-foot ceilings of the bedrooms where the height difference offers the coziness and warmth of a den. Deep porches, both screened and open, provide sprawling outdoor spaces for even more family relaxation and are all built with direct views of the water.

But no cabin would be complete without the inspired interior design of Nan Jackson. “I just want nature to be a part of the inside, ” explains Nan. Her desire is evident in the backsplash of the stove which is inlayed with tiles resembling the color and shape of fish scales. The colors of the walls and trim are subdued, so as not to contrast too sharply with the outdoor views. Working closely with Seibels’ owner, Kelly Seibels, Nan has also managed to create upscale décor throughout the cabin while still maintaining rustic appeal. Perhaps the most stunning piece of furniture—and a handmade creation by Seibels specifically for the Windward cabin—is the master bed which was fashioned from reclaimed wood.

With Taylor Dawson’s cabin design, Nan Jackson’s interior décor, and Lake Martin as your backyard, any season spent here is a season well spent.

In order to keep the 8 foot ceilings from appearing too low, Nan chose a semi-transparent paint to lighten up the wood without masking it entirely.

Spring Dreaming

Longing for a beautiful garden? Meet the landscape designers who can make it happen at the 6th annual Twin States Conference. Best part of all? The meetings are in Orange Beach.

Have you thought about adding an outdoor room, or are you looking for ways to enhance the space you have?  A landscape architect’s design expertise may be just what you need to make the most of your natural environment.

Want to learn more about landscape architecture? The 6th annual Twin States Conference, hosted by the Alabama and Mississippi Chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), will be in Orange Beach April 11-13, 2013. Attendees will get a hands-on look at the latest products at the conference expo; take a tour of the ‘Encore’ azaleas nursery; enjoy a Lowcountry boil; and participate in discussions covering native plants, stormwater management, healing gardens, the power of sustainability, and more. Both chapters will present professional design awards during a luncheon on Saturday, April 13, at the Island House Hotel. Although primarily geared toward professional development for registered landscape architects, the conference offers a range of topics that can be enjoyed by anyone interested in natural and designed environments. For more information about the conference, or to learn more about the Alabama and Mississippi Chapters of ASLA, log on to

ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects. Their mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments. To find an ASLA landscape architect in your area, visit

By Cassandra Ramos Lenard • Photography by Jean Allsopp

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