The Beauty of Simplicity

“There was one thing I kept hearing from her again and again, ” explains designer Liz Woods of her Mountain Brook client. “She would say, ‘Keep it neutral; keep it clean. No knick-knacks.’ ” And that is exactly what Liz accomplished in designing the home’s interiors for Patti and Bill Ireland.

“Patti was very definitive about her requests for the project, and I like that trait in a client, ” continues Liz.

“For her, it was not about creating a grand place for entertaining. She wanted a beautiful home that was all about family—a peaceful place for them to relax and enjoy together.” 

Even though the home’s previous owners had made significant renovations to incorporate modern-day conveniences, the interiors were still heavily influenced by the traditional style of the house. “We couldn’t ignore that fact, and that’s what I loved about this project, ” explains Liz. “Working with this wonderful old Tudor house was a lot of fun. Plus, the Irelands already had some fabulous antique pieces and beautiful artwork that they wanted to incorporate into the design. Their collections fit perfectly with the home.”

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But Patti also wanted the space to have a somewhat contemporary edge. “She has a very sophisticated flair, ” Liz says of her client. “It was important for that to show through in the interiors.”

To achieve just the right balance of both contemporary and traditional designs, Liz integrated more transitional upholstery and accessories with the Irelands’ existing antiques. “As a result, the house has much more interest and energy, ” she says.

That energy definitely spills into rooms throughout the home, as seen in the dining room. “The artwork and furnishings in this space really work together to make a statement while still maintaining the more pared-down look that Patti desired, ” says Liz. “And the neutral Oushak rug adds just the right amount of softness. It’s a space perfectly suited for leisurely dinners with family and friends.”

The more private areas in the home also follow suit with soothing neutral hues and light fabrics. “The bedroom with built-in bookshelves and a rolling library ladder is one of my favorite areas in the home, ” says Liz. “It is a study of textures and layers in different shades of white.”

To complete the interiors, Liz pulled items from her own home accessories boutique, Details, for the finishing touches. “The boutique was born out of my own need for the last layers in my projects, ” she explains. “I was already warehousing much of the merchandise for my own use, so I decided to make the items available to everyone. It is a carefully curated collection of decorative pieces and gifts—the all-important details.”

And in the Irelands’ house, it’s clear that Liz’s penchant for such details enhances the beautiful simplicity of the design.

ABOVE White upholstered chairs in keeping with the neutral color scheme help complete the intimate conversation area in the living room. The ornate gold-filigree clock above the mantel is just one example of the Irelands’ beautiful antiques collection.


ABOVE LEFT Liz’s ability to seamlessly blend traditional and contemporary styles is evident in the living room. A chair belonging to the client perfectly complements a more modern piece of art from Henhouse Antiques.

ABOVE RIGHT The unique fireplace in the family room adds to the more rustic appeal of the space. Punches of green in the urn plantings on the mantel and in the calla lilies on the coffee table add depth to the neutral surroundings.


ABOVE LEFT In the dining room, black intaglios from A. Tyner Antiques in Atlanta flank the gilt-framed mirror from the owners’ personal collection.

ABOVE RIGHT In the dining room, a 10-foot-long table from Dennis  and Leen, a Los Angeles company, allows plenty of room for family gatherings. Portieres made of silk and velvet anchor each end of the room, adding warmth to the space.


ABOVE LEFT The kitchen banquette, custom-designed for the space by architects Paul Bates and Jeremy Corkern, is upholstered in family-friendly outdoor fabrics for easy cleanup. 

ABOVE RIGHT “The Irelands already had some fabulous antiques and beautiful artwork that they wanted to incorporate into the design. Their collections fit perfectly with the home.”  — Liz Woods

ABOVE An antique screen mounted to the wall becomes a beautiful piece of art in the family room. Renovations from the previous owners included the vaulted ceiling constructed from pecky cypress.

ABOVE Built-in bookshelves and a rolling ladder were additions from the home’s previous owner. Liz had the books on the shelves covered in handmade decorative papers to maintain the room’s neutral palette.


Designer: Liz Woods, Liz Hand Woods Associates • 205.870.8005 •
Accessories throughout the Home: Details • 2337 20th Avenue South • 205.423.2993
Dining Room: Console table: Circa Interiors & Antiques • 2831 Culver Road • 205.868.9119 
Intaglios: A. Tyner Antiques • 404.367.4484 • 
Rug: Paige Albright Orientals • 2814 Petticoat Lane • 205.877.3232 • 
Family Room: Antique Screen on Wall: Henhouse Antiques • 1900 Cahaba Road • 205.918.0505 
Kitchen Banquette: Paul Bates and Jeremy Corkern, Bates Corkern Studio • 205.414.9939 •; Kitchen Table and Table at Bottom of Stairway: Henhouse Antiques 
Bedroom: Artwork: Cecily Hill • 
Custom Bench: Liz Hand Woods Associates

text by Julie Gillis • photos by Jean Allsopp

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