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Beautiful Kitchens:

TIMELESS AND TRENDY IDEAS Summer Gardens + Recipes


j u ly / a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 $4.95

Go Bold!


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Photo by Jean Allsopp

{ vol. 17 no. 4 }


18 Curb Appeal

Garden designer Troy Rhone collaborates with architect Bill Ingram to help revive a neglected Mountain Brook cottage inside and out.

24 Birmingham Gardening Today Despite rising summer temperatures, you can an abundance of blooms all season long with these tips from resident gardening expert John Floyd.


28 Inspiration Home

Our 2019 Inspiration Home at The Willows of Willow Point on Lake Martin is almost complete. Take a look at our A-list sponsors.

Special Section 14

32 Beautiful Kitchens


58 Fashioned for Family

For one Birmingham woman, a milestone birthday meant a chance to celebrate close friends in a setting made even more beautiful by a custom tabletop design and a plethora of stunning floral arrangements.

74 Party Favors

Step inside three beautifully renovated kitchens and find plenty of inspiration to redefine your own central gathering space. And don’t miss the industry advice beginning on page 44.

Style guru Hannah Benak puts her expertise to personal use in her family’s brand new Vestavia Hills home.

66 Joyful Palette


78 Summer Sides

With summer’s abundance of fresh vegetables, you’ll have enough to feed an entire block party.

A lakeside family home overcomes its deceivingly serious exterior with a decorating scheme full of color and collections that create plenty of happiness for a globe-trotting family.

What To Wear Now


Head to the mountains with fashionista Hannah Benak.

49 Fine Finishes

Look no further that Birmingham’s talented professionals and vendors to find everything you need for a home makeover.

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have commitment issues—at least when it comes to decorating my own house. Because I work at a design magazine, some people assume that I have a favorite designer or architect and that my house is perfectly decorated. But choosing a favorite designer would be akin to choosing a favorite child. I love the wide variety of styles and ideas that all of these talented professionals bring to our Birmingham homes. However, because I see so many great houses, I find myself

constantly wanting to implement each look. Somehow, though, it doesn’t seem to work to have a contemporary farmhouse cottage that’s all white with minimalist furniture yet also filled with color and pattern. What a hodgepodge! (Ok, my house isn’t that jumbled up, but I still struggle.)  In this issue, I especially love the bold looks we feature—and the commitments these homeowners made to take the leap. Check out the Spensleys’ colorful farmhouse on page 66. Inspired by their global art collection, these homeowners swathed their interiors with the cheery colors of favorite pieces to create a very bright, happy home for themselves and their three children. Marketing guru and fashionista Hannah Benak walked into color and pattern a little more cautiously, choosing a bold wallpaper for her dining room while mixing in dashes of hot pink and citron green with her otherwise neutral interiors (page 58). And on page 74, Patricia Murray of Table Matters and Mary Cox Brown of Marigold Designs held nothing back when layering a party scene with an abundance of hues pulled from a favorite china pattern. I hope you find yourself inspired to step out of the box, layer color and pattern, and discover your own style no matter what look grabs your attention. My own home may not be perfectly styled, layered, or polished, but it is mine—and ultimately, that’s what makes it home. Enjoy,

Turn to page 28 to get an update on our Inspiration Home at Russell Lands on Lake Martin. It’s almost finished and will be open in time for tours Labor Day weekend!

Birmingham Home & Garden is published bimonthly in addition to two special issues by PMT Publishing Inc. © 2019. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. ADDRESS ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO: Birmingham Home & Garden, 2204 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 120, Birmingham, AL 35209, 205.802.6363. Letters to the editor are welcome. Please query the editor before sending unsolicited articles or photographs. Moving? Please send the old label along with your new address to Birmingham Home and Garden, P.O Box 923773, Norcross, GA 30010-3373.


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Publisher / Walker Sorrell Editor / Cathy Still McGowin Art Director / Rebecca Reeves Office manager / Molly Lipski Powell PHOTOGRAPHER / Jean Allsopp WEB EDITOR / Abby Parrott CITY DIGITAL EDITOR / Catherine Romero Copy editor/ Julie Gillis Contributors / Hannah Benak Lauren Crabtree John Floyd Lacey Howard Leslie Byars Register Paige Townley Holland Williams Advertising / Sales Hope Roddam 205.802.6363 ext. 114 Elizabeth Yeilding 205.802.6363 ext. 106 accounting Keith Crabtree Circulation / distribution Anita Miller Advertising Sales Office: 2204 Lakeshore Drive • Suite 120 Birmingham, Alabama 35209 Office: 205.802.6363 \ Fax: 205.802.6393 TO SUBSCRIBE OR FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR SUBSCRIPTION, CALL 1-833-454-5060 or visit T.J. Potts / President, PMT Publishing Inc. 3729 Cottage Hill Road, Suite H Mobile, AL 36609

Cover Photo: Jean Allsopp, page 58

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The Defining Style of

T ROY R HON E Photography by J E A N A L L S O P P


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An iconic cottage on a busy corner in Mountain Brook realizes its fullest potential thanks to owner and garden designer Troy Rhone and architect Bill Ingram.


our house and garden showcase unbelievable charm. Tell us what

you know about the property. There are a million stories about the house and when and why it was built. The true history behind it seems to be somewhat of a mystery. The deed says the house was built in 1950, although many people think it is much older than that. From what I have pieced together, the house was originally a two-bedroom home with a carport. It was a rental until I bought it. There was some interest from other buyers who had considered tearing it down.


he community is so glad you brought it back to life! Your strategic plan really shows everyone how you can create a garden, privacy,

and views in a small space. The lot is very small, but thankfully there is

an easement that belongs to the Country Club of Birmingham, and it came with the house. That easement gave us more room to spread out and create a sizable garden. When my wife and I bought it, the lot was so overgrown that I’m not sure anyone knew how big it actually was. There is still so much space that I haven’t completed. In the future, I want to add a new shade garden and a koi pond for my son.

Troy’s daughter, Ella, asked for a flower garden, so he added the border across the front of the house. “She and I swap the flowers out together twice a year,” says Troy. “She is learning about plant names and how to amend the bed with the correct micronutrients and fertilizer. In the winter, we plant parsley, pansies, snapdragons, and foxgloves. In summer, we use lamb’s ears, antique roses, sun impatience, pentas, Angelonia, vinca, lantana, and salvias. j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G



ow did you use the house as a backdrop for your garden?

I believe a house and garden should become one. Only then do you have your home. I really take time to think about how the garden will be viewed from inside each room. I want that exchange of the garden coming into the room, as well as the room extending into the garden.


re garden accessories just as important as the plants

themselves? Fencing, containers, and

ornamental pieces are like the walls and furniture inside a home. They provide structure, line, and beauty. The fence provides a practical solution for keeping my children and dog safe, but it also allows me to contain the garden, just like interior walls create a room. The stone acts like flooring, and the grass “X’s” are like the rug that softens the floor. I also placed containers in the same way furniture is placed in a room.


ow did you arrange these outdoor rooms? The fenced

garden is divided into four sections. The picket fence gate serves as a “front door,” and the area where the table is sitting serves as an “entrance hall.” Because our real entrance hall doesn’t have a table, the exterior table pulls the two spaces together. There’s an outdoor terrace, along with a formal lawn where the kids can play. Right now there is a trampoline on the lawn area, but I also have plans for another garden area in that space one day.

ABOVE: Large, selfwatering containers hold an assortment of American, Korean, and Japanese boxwoods. “The key is choosing boxwoods that want to grow in the area where you plant them,” says Troy. RIGHT: “The stairstep design was Bill’s idea,” Troy says. “It was initially created to allow space for one more window in the den, but I like that fact that it makes our house unique.”


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ait! A trampoline? Isn’t that a bit taboo for a garden

designer? This is real life. We have two

young children who will only be in our home for a few short years, and they need outside space to play. Although I always design a garden with the future in mind, we still need a place for the trampoline! I want my children to grow up having fun in a beautiful yard. I truly believe that their surroundings will be part of their lifelong education of living a beautiful life, as well as part of their memories for years to come.

“I always encourage my clients to use antiques in their gardens. We have them in our homes, and we should have them in our gardens as well.” —TROY RHONE

Troy Rhone Garden Design • 205.249.1030 IG: troyrhone • FB: Troy Rhone 22

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with J O H N F L O Y D

Cool Plants For Hot Days

Magic Lily

Varigated Hosta

For daily tips and more garden information, visit birmingham or birminghamhome Hot Country Lilies

Petunias John Floyd has been gardening in the Birmingham area for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was editor-in-chief of Southern Living.

Sweltering summer heat doesn’t have to mean the demise of a beautiful garden. Follow these planting tips from resident garden expert John Floyd to ensure an abundance of blooms all season long. 24

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ur summers are hot. If we can’t find a shade tree in the garden to stand under, we generally choose to only venture outdoors in the cool of early morning or after the sun sets in the evening. And on the hottest of days, some folks simply view their gardens through a window in the comfort of airconditioning. Regardless of where you enjoy your garden this time of year, you have probably noticed that while many of the annuals you planted in spring are tired looking and need cutting back or replacing, others are thriving. Crinum, also called hot country lilies, are the beauties of many Southern gardens. If you want a sensational show of flowers in summer, these bulbs offer vibrant hues of pure white, pink, red, or red with white stripes. I rarely see these lilies in garden centers in our area, even in bloom, so you may have to order the bulbs or get a bulb from a friend. Dig the bulbs when they finish flowering. Older masses can have lots of bulbs, and I have seen up to 15 shoots with 40 or more blooms at once. Remember that their clumps grow bigger over time and are a showstopper when in bloom. If you get a bulb from a friend, be sure to dig deep since the bulb can be several feet in depth. Another surprise this time of year are magic lilies, or naked ladies as some people call them. Like spider lilies, their tall stalks of pink flowers appear without foliage and seem to simply pop up in the garden. They don’t last long, but once established, they can be a showpiece in a garden for many years without much effort. Since shade is a commodity in summer, there are some beautiful plants that call for little to no sun. I can’t think of a group of plants with a more diverse range of foliage colors than hostas or plantain lilies. If planted in shade with good soil and

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BIRMINGHAM GARDENING TODAY... Adventures in the Garden: A Family Camp Experience Don’t miss this weeklong intergenerational event led by professional naturalist Taylor Steele. Your family will be treated to a handson exploration of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ 67.5 acres. Sessions run July 22-26 from 9am-1pm with the option to attend one or more days. Visit for more information.

Crepe Myrtle Tomatoes


Lady Fern

kept watered in our dry summers, they will thrive for years. These shade lovers have leaves as big a dinner plates or as small as a demitasse spoon. While their blooms of blue or white flowers are nice, it’s all about the foliage’s striking appearance in the garden. Foliage colors range from variegated in both white and yellow to bold bright greens to almost all-yellow foliage, as well as powdery blue-green to crisp dark green. I suggest you purchase hostas where you can select the foliage color and size you need for your garden. I often buy them now since they are usually on sale at our local nurseries. Other great shade perennials that look good in our hot summers include native and tropical ferns, rhodea or Nippon lily, and both the green and variegated types of Solomon’s seal. Even as the heat of summer lingers, your garden can still be beautiful and colorful with a little forethought into choosing the right plants. Coleus


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Floyd’s To Do List: July/August Container plants This time of year, container plants are generally root-bound and need water almost daily, as well as fertilization with liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks to keep them putting out fresh foliage and flowers. It’s also important to groom them by cutting out the spent flowers and old tired foliage. Turf Grass Hot dry days mean your turf

needs deep watering. Thirty to 40 minutes of water several times a week is much better than a sprinkle of water daily for 10 to 15 minutes. In addition, our Southern deciduous turf grasses, except centipede, need a high-nitrogen fertilizer watered in well to keep their true rich green color this time of the year. Remember the first number of the fertilizer trio represents the amount of nitrogen it contains.

Shrubs If you find shrubs that you like in a garden center, buy them now to give them plenty of time to become established before cold weather arrives. The plants may even be priced to move because garden centers don’t like to carry over some types of plant materials to the next year. Just remember that many plants put out this time of year die because they can’t absorb enough water. Be sure to cut the roots in several places to allow the water to enter into the soil ball. Pruning Mophead or florist hydrangeas are generally finished blooming by now, so this is the time to cut off the old blooms and prune and shape as needed. These plants will set their buds in late summer and early fall, which means that if you wait and prune them later, you will cut off next year’s flowers. Don’t be afraid to tip-prune crepe myrtles as they finish flowering. This will produce a second set of blooms that will probably be smaller that the initial blooms. I like to prune mine right below the bloom stalk where the new flower shoots will fill the ends of the stems. Also, remove any suckers from around the base, and don’t be afraid to remove wayward shoots or branches as well. Garden annuals Petunias, marigolds, coleus, zinnias, and other annuals need a pinch or a cut now. Remove the spent flowers on zinnias and marigolds by cutting them just below the flower. As for petunias, coleus, zinnias, and many others that are becoming tall and leggy, cut them back to right above a cluster of leaves where they will put on a fresh crop of foliage and flowers for fall. An application of a granular fertilizer like 15-0-15, watered in well, stimulates new growth.

Tomatoes If you love tomatoes like I do, try to

find several transplants in the marketplace to plant now. Often they look rough and usually off-color, but if you plant them deep in the garden and then water and fertilize them, you can continue to enjoy these fruit in your salads with the fall lettuces.

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i nspir at ion

Our 2019 Inspiration Home Opens August 30th

THE TEAM BUILDER: Chad Calhoun, Classic Homes ARCHITECT: Scott Torode, Pfeffer Torode Architecture CHARITY PARTNER: Children’s Harbor

Welcome to

A Haven at The Willows Our 2019 Inspiration Home in The Willows on Lake Martin is almost complete! Here’s a preview of what you can expect at our waterfront retreat.

The Willows of Willow Point With large, wooded lots featuring ample shoreline and open water views, The Willows of Willow Point is truly a haven on Lake Martin. Located near Willow Point Golf & Country Club, the crown jewel of Lake Martin’s North Shore, the new development offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. This craftsman-inspired neighborhood features a grand entry with a gatehouse, homes designed by some of the Southeast’s premier lake-home designers, and level lots to create your dream lake home. The 2019 Inspiration Home in The Willows, designed by Scott Torode of Pfeffer Torode Architecture and built by Classic Homes, a Russell Lands On Lake Martin building company, will showcase the latest in quality construction, décor, and furnishings. Each room will be the palate for a different dedicated design/furnishing team. In addition to being a showplace, the Inspiration Home supports a local charity with proceeds from this year’s ticket sales benefitting Children’s Harbor, an organization dedicated to helping seriously ill children and their families. 

Tickets available at 28

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ROOM SPONSORS Georgia Carlee Lauren Conner Ashley Gallion Libby Greene Lolo French Antiques Mary Lauren McBride Paige Albright Orientals Pandy Agnew Nan Jackson Seibels Stephanie Lynton Stock & Trade MATERIAL SPONSORS American Lumber EcoLogical Insulation FireRock Inline Lighting Interscapes Jackson Refrigeration Lake Martin Painting Pella Windows & Doors Robert F. Henry Tile Company Russell Do it Center Russell Marine Sunrise Docks VW Gallerie Vision Landscapes

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i nspir at ion


Square Footage: Main level conditioned: 2,035 sq. ft. Main level porches: 608 sq. ft.; Upper level: 1,482 sq. ft.














Charity Partner: Children’s Harbor The mission of Children’s Harbor is to serve seriously ill children and their families through unique, no-cost services at both the Lake Martin retreat facility in Alexander City and the Family Resource and Counseling Center located at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham. The Lake Martin location hosts camping and retreat services through partnering organizations, providing campers and their families a place to reconnect, explore, and participate in activities in a safe environment for children with various diagnoses, such as cancer, hemophilia, spinal injury, autism, and heart and lung disease. Ben and Luanne Russell, the founders of Children’s Harbor, have long recognized that Lake Martin is a special place. Their dream was to create a place for families with seriously ill children to experience its beauty. In 1989, Russell Lands, the Russell family’s private company that manages several hundred miles of shoreline property on Lake Martin, donated 50 acres of the most beautiful shorelines for the development of Children’s Harbor. In 2001, the Russells extended the reach of Children’s Harbor with their gift to build the Children’s Harbor Family Resource and Counseling Center at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham. In 2005, Russell Lands also donated an additional 17 acres to expand the Lake Martin location. 30



















PLAN HIGHLIGHTS • Open floor plan uniting kitchen, living, and dining areas • Master suite on main with abundant lake views









• Three bedrooms upstairs, each with a private bath

• Shiplap siding and natural stone materials

• Screened porch and terrace overlooking a gently sloping lot and panoramic lake views

• A stand-alone garage with bunkroom and bath above accessed by a private entrance

Sponsor Spotlight: Russell Do it Center Whether you’re a contractor or a DIYer, you will find what you need at the Russell Do it Center. The company offers a complete assortment of building materials, supplies, expert advice, and toprated products to complete any project around the house—or to build from the ground up. Throw in first-class service, free delivery, and a price-match promise, and your project is as good as finished. Russell Do it Center has nine locations comprised of six Russell Do it Centers and three Russell Building Supply locations. All locations carry a complete assortment of building materials, doors, windows, millwork, plumbing, electrical, lawn and garden, and other products.

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The nine-store chain got its start when Russell Lands purchased the first location in Alexander City in 1984. Several acquisitions followed in neighboring communities, as well as the addition of some stores built from the ground up. All locations are affiliated with Do it Best Corp., a 4,400-member buying cooperative that has member stores around the world. In addition, the company includes The Russell Home Décor center to help you tastefully finish your project with a complete line of quality products from cabinetry and countertops to floor coverings and lighting, along with a design team to ensure satisfaction in your selection.

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~beautiful kitchens~



Photography by J E A N A L L S O P P

Designer Cyndy Cantley transforms a cramped Crestline cottage kitchen into an airy, welcoming space with added storage and French flair.



ld homes can be a challenge during renovations—especially small cottages with a tiny footprint. “They rarely have much storage space,” says kitchen designer Cyndy Cantley. “With today’s lifestyle, we expect the kitchen to be the workhorse of the home, and storage is a vital part of that.” For a Crestline remodel belonging to Pam and Rob Irwin, Cyndy created a large, built-in, glass cabinet to hold glasses and china. She also found storage behind a door and tucked in a plate rack that’s both decorative (We love her collection of blue-and-white antique Transferware) and functional. In addition, a side entrance was transformed into a wet bar. Even with these changes, the new space perfectly fits the home’s cottage style—and there’s still room for a breakfast table.

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Cyndy Cantley the kitchen connoisseur What is your favorite way to use color in a kitchen? I prefer to keep kitchens

fairly neutral as far as cabinet colors, countertops, and backsplash materials. This allows you to add color with wallpaper, objects inside glass cabinets, and window treatments. How do you feel about appliance garages? The appliance garages of years

ago no longer hold the appliances of today. I like to include a large cabinet with a countertop inside and electrical outlets for a microwave, coffee maker, mixers, etc. What is one thing every kitchen needs?

A comfortable place to gather as a family. Everyone ends up in the kitchen anyway, so why not make it inviting? What is your number one rule of design?

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CARVED BACKSPLASH: The shapely backsplash, made of Calacatta Borghini marble from Italy, creates a focal point behind the range. “The colors and movement of this piece seem to change constantly, which is what I love about it,” says Cyndy. “I pulled the colors for the kitchen from this stone.”


FRENCH FLAIR: “This beautiful La Cornue range celebrates all

that is glorious about the French culinary traditions,” says Cyndy. “It elevates the overall style of the room.”

design tip:

Give a bar area distinct style. Cyndy painted cabinets a dark hue (Downpipe, Farrow & Ball) and covered the ceiling in a bold, snake-pattern wallpaper.


SMALL APPLIANCES: A 24-inch refrigerator and two 24-inch

freezer drawers, all from Sub-Zero, easily handle foodstorage needs. “Today’s homeowners often shop local farmers markets for a more farm-to-table lifestyle, so large appliances are not always needed,” Cyndy says. “Freezers are often only used for ice and ice cream, while refrigerators hold fresh produce and local meats and cheese.”


AUTHENTICITY: “I love that the Irwins respected their home

and the fact that it is a cottage,” says Cyndy. “They didn’t try to make their kitchen into something it is not. The renovation maintains the character of the home.” RESOURCES: Interior designer: Cyndy Cantley, Cantley & Company,, 205.324.2400 Cabinetry and hardware: Cantley & Company Appliances: AllSouth,, 205.942.0408 Countertops: Triton Stone,, 205.592.0202 Sconces: Village Firefly,, 205.870.4560 Plumbing fixtures and sink: Fixtures & Finishes,, 205.323.5616 Kitchen table: Henhouse Aniques,, 205.918.0505 Chairs: Patina,, 205.802.9805 Bar area wallpaper: Giove from Schumacher, Kitchen paint color: White Dove, Benjamin Moore, 34

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Text by J U L I E G I L L I S / Photography by H O L L A N D W I L L I A M S P H O T O G R A P H Y

~beautiful kitchens~


A 100-year old kitchen makes the most of the present and its past with a daring color choice, salvaged materials and antiques, and modern fixtures and surfaces.


wanted a ‘tuxedo kitchen’—a dressed-up space to match the formality of our 100-year-old Greek Revival home in Forest Park,” says homeowner and artist Sarah Soule Webb. But before she could tackle the decorative aspects of a remodel, Sarah knew her family needed one important thing—more space. She and husband Andy enlisted Paul Irwin of Irwin Brothers Remodeling Company to knock down walls and open up their existing kitchen to the butler’s pantry so they could incorporate an outside mudroom, allowing more square footage for the family of five to gather, cook, and enjoy meals. “Paul and his team have a lot of experience with older homes,” says Sarah. “They reused as much of the original mouldings, windows, and details as they could.” When it came to space planning, Sarah called friend and designer Kate Hartman of Chickadee Interiors. “As an artist with my own sense of style, I had an idea of what I wanted but didn’t know exactly how to go about it,” she says. “I trusted her to help bring my vision to life.”


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design tip: Find nooks and crannies during demolition. A family command center, hidden behind cabinets adjacent to the brick wall, includes a desk area that allows space for a computer, files, and paperwork.

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COLOR CONTRAST: “I wanted a black-and-white kitchen that would also emit warmth,” says Sarah. “The cabinet color is a soft black (Iron Ore, Sherwin-Williams) with an almost glossy finish.” Kate says, “To contrast the cabinets, we needed a light countertop. Sarah wanted something that could handle wear and tear, so we chose a quartzite that gives the look of marble but with better durability.”

2 3

BRICK ACCENTS: “The brick wall is an old chimney chute, so

it was not going anywhere,” Sarah says. “We exposed the old brick seven years ago when we bought the home and pointed a spotlight on it to create a gallery for my artwork.” MUDROOM WITH EXTRA STORAGE: The mudroom connects to

the kitchen through a doorway topped with a transom window. “We kept the old exterior transom windows that surrounded the original outside mudroom and then had the interior one custommade to marry the old and new,” says Sarah. The space offers locker storage and shoe drawers to keep clutter in check. “It was an easy transformation that has proven to be life-changing for our busy days with the kids,” says Sarah.


PENDANTS WITH PERSONALITY: An eBay find, antique brass light fixtures from a 1920’s hotel in Mumbai add antique flair—and a new layer of history to the 100-year-old home

Sarah painted a light-hearted depiction of a man eating spaghetti with gusto. “I needed something silly to keep the space from being too serious,” she says. IG @sarahsoule webbstudios

Chickadee kitchens with flair

Countertops? We love using white marble, but some clients

worry about its practicality. We often show homeowners an aged marble from one of our past projects. This allows them to see how stains, water marks, and scratches can add to its character over time. For this project, we used quartzite, which is very durable (and always looks new). Butler’s pantry or bar? Bar. Everyone loves a party, and it’s

also one of the most fun spaces to design.

Tile or hardwoods? Tile in a kitchen can be beautiful, but

it really depends on how the space will be used. If a client loves to cook a lot, food will inevitably make its way onto the floor. In that case, we would suggest hardwoods since tile grout will stain and doesn’t clean as well.

RESOURCES: Interior designer: Kate Hartman and Kelly Neely, Chickadee Interiors,, 205.969.3138 Architect: Dean Robinson, 205.229.0377 Builder: Paul Irwin, Irwin Brothers Remodeling Company,, 205.254.1820 Artwork: Sarah Soule Webb, Countertops: Triton Stone,, 205.592.0202 Countertop fabrication: Premier Surfaces,, 205.664.1440 Hardware: Mike Chiarito, Creation Metal, 205.587.3029 Tile/backsplash: Fixtures & Finishes,, 205.323.5616 Barstools: Restoration Hardware, 38

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~beautiful kitchens~

WELL-BLENDED An open-concept kitchen seamlessly combines task spaces with living spaces.

design tip:

Variables in selections, such as plumbing, style of cabinets, and countertop materials, can make a huge difference in your budget. Ask about quality alternatives if costs start to run too high.



Text by J U L I E G I L L I S / Photography by J E A N A L L S O P P

ooking is always more fun in a pretty kitchen—especially when it opens to the living area, making the prepping, chopping, and stirring part of an evening’s entertainment. When these homeowners engaged designer Sarah Jernigan to help them make over their Mountain Brook kitchen, they asked for an innovative, efficient, and smart space­ with plenty of storage that would tie into the adjacent living spaces. “The wife is a fabulous cook, so creating a more innovative kitchen was always part of their plan,” Sarah says. Traditional touches were essential to connect the kithen to the rest of the space, and Sarah chose elegant appointments such as the chandelier above the antique breakfast table, a custom hutch and sideboard with decorative flourishes, and a soft palette of pale blue, cream, and gray.

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STORAGE GALORE: Upper cabinets flanking the sink serve as appliance garages. “The island also has space for small appliances, silverware, and the necessary ‘notepad’ bin, as well as undercounter refrigeration,” says Sarah. “The homeowner and I like to call the right side of the kitchen the snack bar because it has pantry space, drawers for snacks, and a warming drawer. Everything you need just slides out for easy reach.”


RECLAIMED WOOD BEAMS: Reclaimed wood from North Alabama offers the perfect touch of rusticity to balance out the all-white kitchen.


CUSTOM SCONCES: “My dad and I made the sconces,” Sarah says. “The homeowner and I found the carvings on an antiques-buying trip, and we both fell in love with the detailing. A cabinet maker created the channels for the wires, and I purchased a simple wire-and-socket system online.” Shades are from Village Firefly.


TILED WALL: Sarah chose an Ann Sacks hand-hewn, terra-cotta tile with a ceramic glaze. “I love the way its uneven edges create such a cool contrast to the crisp, white marble countertops,” says the designer. “We didn’t originally plan to tile the entire wall, but once we selected the tile, we realized it would beautifully complete the space while also creating the perfect backdrop for the sconces.”



requested a double oven, but the U-shaped configuration of the space didn’t allow for wall ovens. “With wall ovens, she would have sacrificed efficiency and some storage elements,” says Sarah. “This 48-inch Wolf range not only allows for plenty of convenient cooking space, it also makes a great statement!”

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“The kitchen feeds into the living room, the dining room, and the screened porch, as well as the friends’ entry from the driveway. It’s truly a central space yet also feels selfcontained.” —SARAH JERNIGAN

The soft blues and taupes of the open living area were intended as a punctuation mark within the white, neutral scheme of the adjacent kitchen. “Our overal goal was to create a comfortable space that emits a casual elegance,” says Sarah.

Sarah Jernigan

the dish on design

Biggest request? Storage!

Everyone wants more drawers and cabinets with specific “assignments” so that everything has its place. Pendants or recessed lights?

I like to include a mix. Decorative lighting goes a long way in creating ambience, but you also have to consider the right lighting for the tasks at hand in a kitchen. Layering both task lighting (recessed) and ambient lighting (pendants, chandeliers, and sconces) is the best way to illuminate your space. RESOURCES: Interior designer: Sarah Jernigan Designs, Inc.,, 205.802.5868 Builder and Interior wood details and finishing: Bill Meadows, Meadows Homes, Inc., 205.879.9758 Cabinets: Allen Deal, Deal’s Cabinetry Co., 334.391.1381 Cabinet color: White Dove, Benjamin Moore, Appliances: AllSouth,, 205.942.0408 Countertops: Cottage Supply Co.,, 205.664.1800 Tile/backsplash: Ann Sacks, Cabinet finishing: Coverwalls,, 205.368.3066 Dining bench: Lee Industries, Table: Ed Grier, The Nest, 205.870.1264 Living room wall color: Tapestry Beige, Benjamin Moore.


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Open concept or separate workspace? Open concept is truly

the way we live today, but some clients find it loud and chaotic. There are ways to “contain the cook” when necessary by creating a little more space between the kitchen and living areas.

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~beautiful kitchens~


We consulted the experts on what’s new, noteworthy, and trending in the kitchen industry. Here’s their advice on how to make the most of your own space.

FIXTURES & FINISHES: Mary Louise Choate

Q. What’s going on with task areas? Homeowners are starting to discover “the galley workstation” (photo above). This streamlined work station is filled with accessories that slide back and forth over the sink allowing it to be used for cleaning, prepping, and even serving.

Q. What’s happening in tile? Handmade, textured ceramic, glazed brick, and terra-cotta tiles continue to be popular. With so many new patterns and shapes, they can be used in a fan shape or hexagon. Even subway tiles are being laid in different patterns. As color makes its way back into the kitchen, we see blues, greens, and grays. Antiqued mirror is a nice option for the bar.

Q. Coolest new gadget? A hot-and-cold filtered water spout. This will help eliminate the waste of disposable bottles. 205.323.5616 / FB and IG @fixturesandfinishes Appointments encouraged 44

INLINE LIGHTING: Stacey Summerville Q. When building or renovating a kitchen, how do task lighting and decorative lighting work together? No one wants to cook in the dark! Also, most parties and gatherings end up in the kitchen, so good lighting is important. We always start with the recessed lighting layout because that is the majority of your task

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lighting in a kitchen. The 4-inch models are great because they are sleek and unobtrusive but also give a great amount of light thanks to LED technology. We encourage undercabinet lighting for task as well. It can also highlight your beautiful backsplash. Consider inner-cabinet

MCGOWIN-KING MORTGAGE Birmingham’s Most Trusted Lender Since 1998.

lighting if you are opting for glass cabinet doors. After placing the task lighting, look at decorative lighting and how you want to incorporate it into your design. Pendants over the island or sink, swing-arm sconces, and a chandelier over the eating area are all ways to personalize your kitchen. You can go sleek and modern, timeless and traditional, or a little bit of both to create a space that matches your style.

At McGowin-King, we know trust is earned. That’s why for 21 years we’ve built our reputation one client at a time. Let us show you how we’re different.

Q. What’s the trend in island lighting vs. sconces. Any favorites? Depending on the size


of the kitchen, we love including both

NMLS 431618 • 205-451-0679 •

Warner McGowin

sconces and island lights. I prefer two larger pendants over an island and swing-arm sconces over windows or open shelving. Open lanterns are still a great choice because they provide a lot of light and are easy to clean and maintain. I also love large, clear globe pendants. They help keep everything open and bright. If you have a smaller space, I would recommend picking one lighting focus. You never want to overwhelm a space with multiple lights hanging, and you don't want to compete with your beautiful tile and cabinets.

Q. Do all of my light fixtures need to match or be from the same brand? Absolutely not! Our team at Inline always encourages mixing finishes in your lighting. It adds style to your space, and it makes your home more timeless. 205.982.7511 (call or text) FB and IG: @inlinelighting

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V&W Supply

VW GALLERIE Q. Kitchen sink? Apron front sinks are still a favorite among customers. Fireclay and cast iron materials are the most popular choices. For undermount installation, shoppers are selecting single bowls in stainless and cast iron.

Q. Trends? Wood tones are on the rise. For faucets, warmer tones like matte black, brass, and polished nickel are still very popular.

Q. Coolest new gadget? Kohler is introducing Kohler Konnect Smart

Photo by Mary Margaret Smith. Photo courtesy of Triton Stone. Design by Ketcham and Co.

TRITON STONE: Jonathan Lambert Q. What’s happening in surfaces and countertops? Marble is


thickness, 3 centimeters is still

Q. What’s happening in hardware these days? Big knobs, little bitty knobs, pulls, etc.? Most

the standard, but there are some

homeowners are choosing all pulls

dramatic islands being made out of

in the kitchen. Popular too is using

5 centimeters. We are also seeing

a unique styled knob for an accent

a sleeker, more modern look with a

piece such as a tiny knob or a

2-centimeter profile.

whimsical styled knob on cabinets.

Q. Any new trends? Color is back with hues of pinks, greens, and blues.

Q. Does everything have to match? Not at all! Most kitchens have

As for shape, there’s a revival of

a beautiful variety of colors which

squares. Geometric shapes are still a

complement each other.

way to make a statement in special

Q. Favorite finishes?

still the top choice, but quartz is gaining popularity. In terms of stone

places, such as powder room water walls, bar splashes, and feature walls. Warmer tones are returning as well, mixing with wood tones. 205.592.0202 IG: tritonstonegroup FB: Triton Stone Group of Alabama 46

that works to automate systems in the kitchen and bath. Birmingham: 205.324.9521 Pelham: 205.663.1336 Tuscaloosa: 205.758.8621 / Appointments encouraged

SOUTHERN BATH & KITCHEN: Heather Wiggins Q. Customer favorites? The

Muted golds, black, polished nickel.

farmhouse sink still seems to be our top

205.510.4232 FB: Avondale Specialty Hardware Appointments encouraged

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Home Products. It’s a Bluetooth system

seller. It seems to go with everything.

Q. What’s the latest in finishes? Matte black and golds are new finishes to look for. Clients are also choosing appliances in colors. And white is

coming back (not glossy, more of a stainless/matte white).

Q. Coolest new gadget? The Alexaenabled devices! Delta’s kitchen faucet will allow you to say “Alexa, fill my cup up with 8 ounces of water.” 205.641.5127 / IG: southernbathkitchenbham FB: Southern Bath & Kitchen Appointments encouraged Brandino Brass

BRANDINO BRASS: How can I make a statement? Think of your hardware like jewelry. Some like it small, subtle, and sophisticated while others prefer something flashy and provocative. Let your personality shine through.

The classics? Living finishes such as unlacquered brass, antique silver, and bronzes will never go out of style.

Can I mix metals? Yes! A great example is using a polished nickel faucet with unlacquered brass cabinet hardware. They both have warm undertones and complement each other. 205.978.8900 / IG: @brandinobrass FB: Brandino Brass company / Appointments encouraged

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A kitchen or bath renovation is about so much more than installing the latest in styles and trends. It’s about creating spaces that provide beauty, comfort, and convenience in a format that reflects your personal lifestyle and tastes. And lucky for us, Birmingham offers a variety of top-notch showrooms and companies that can lead you step-by-step through the renovation process and assist you with the sometimes overwhelming number of decisions. Simply take a look just around the corner to find all the inspiration you need to create the room of your dreams. S P EC I AL A DVE RT IS IN G S ECT ION Clockwise from top left: Willow Homes, V&W, Southern Bath & Kitchen, Robert S. Grant, Lovette, MRM Home Concepts, Brandino Brass

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Brandino Brass has been creating a new standard of excellence in supplying superior products for the home since 1948. “We take our customers’ ideas and inspirations and make them a reality.” –Eric Brandino, Brandino Brass


he quality of a renovation is evident in the details. Brandino Brass pays attention to those details in all it has to offer, starting with a team of talented experts ready to meet one-on-one with every client, from architects to designers to homeowners. Clients are welcomed into the showroom by a variety of displays including cabinet and door hardware, exterior and interior lighting, and bathroom accessories. Brandino Brass even offers a selection of barn door hardware, mailboxes, and fireballs. Whether your style preference is modern, traditional, industrial, or antique-inspired, you are sure to find just what you are looking for among the multiple lines of hardware, fixtures, and accessories. And when it comes to finishes, the company provides many options in brass, satin brass, aged brass, chrome, pewter, antique silver, and polished nickel, along with bronze and copper. Brandino Brass even offers custom design work to ensure that every last element is perfect.

Brandino Brass • 2824 Central Ave., Suite 100 • Homewood, AL 35209 • 205.978.8900


Building Character


he subtle details of your home speak to the craftsmanship that went into its design and construction. Willow Design Studios creates these fine finishes and works closely with Willow Homes to flawlessly build them. Especially in open concept designs, the company uses finishes like built-in bookcases, banquettes, a shiplap wall feature, or a vaulted ceiling with wood beams to not only add character, but also help define your space. The professionals at Willow Homes ask questions because their goal is for you to feel the connection with your home. It is a direct reflection of your lifestyle. Willow Homes brings your vision to life so that it flows and functions and reflects your personality. If you would like to update your current home or build a new home, call Willow Homes for a free consultation.

2810 Crescent Ave. • Homewood • 205.206.6121 • •



obert S. Grant Construction has been building some of Birmingham’s finest custom homes for more than 30 years. Superior craftsmanship and materials, combined with vision and expertise, are at the foundation of every RSGC home. Insistent upon unparalleled quality down to even the most minute of details, Robert S. Grant Construction builds homes that are made to withstand the test of time. Every home tells a story; let Robert S. Grant help write yours. This Shoal Creek residence (pictured above) evokes a casual elegance reminiscent of the French countryside. Decor by Carol Smeraglia. • 205.369.4518


Imagine Your Dream…. E ​​​ mbrace Every Possibility…. ​​​​​​ Create Your Happiness

“Customers can expect to be greeted by friendly faces and people who are eager to assist.” – Lauren Fife, VW Gallerie


W Gallerie has remained at the forefront of kitchen and bath fixtures, as well as technology, for more than 50 years. Thanks to an offering of fully functional interactive displays and one-on-one customer service, VW Gallerie has been a trusted source in the renovation and home building industry for decades. In addition, the Birmingham location is the only Kallista Platinum showroom in Alabama and the only Kohler Premier showroom in Central Alabama. “We were the first Kohler Premier showroom in the country, and we are the largest independently owned plumbing supply distributor in the state,” says showroom manager Dawn Calvert. “We are proud to be locally owned and enjoy giving back to our community.” Whether you are looking to make a statement in the master shower or are wanting the latest style of faucet or sink in the kitchen, VW Gallerie has you covered. The showroom’s team of knowledgeable consultants have extensive experience working with design professionals, builders, and homeowners to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction. As new products become available, VW Gallerie regularly changes out displays to highlight the latest offerings. In addition, the company stays up to date on all state-of-the art advances to ensure that homeowners have access to these items as soon as possible. 3320 2nd Ave. S. • Birmingham, AL 35222 • • 205.324.9521 • Mon–Fri 8:00–5:00 Sat 9:00–2:00



t is our greatest love to design, build and remodel homes to fit the way we live and the way you live. That is why MRM Home Concepts was created. We enjoy working with clients to find out how you live and how we can best use your space to make your remodel or new home one that works best for you. Building, designing, concepting & decorating are our passion. We love the dream, the process and the finished project. We are excited to work with you to personalize your space to be a place your family loves. 205.807.6527 • •

FINE FINISHES No matter the size of your project, the experts at Southern Bath & Kitchen will guide you through each step and help find the perfect products to create your ideal space.

“There will always be people who want to just pop into a big-box store and buy a sink, but we know these products inside and out. That is invaluable.” –Heather Wiggins, Southern Bath & Kitchen


hen it comes to adding value to your home, choosing to update your kitchen and bathrooms is always a sure bet. After all, these are the spaces that really catch the attention of buyers. Today’s kitchens offer the conveniences of smart divide sinks, touchless faucets, and colorful appliances. And bath options include steam generators and innovative digital showering with Alexa-enabled capabilities to turn on at a pre-set time and temperature. To learn more about all these new offerings, visit the Southern Bath & Kitchen (SB&K) showroom on the outskirts of downtown Birmingham. According to Birmingham branch manager Jeff Rodgers, the company’s sales team of Heather Wiggins, Vann Foti, and Brandi Beard takes pleasure in showing off the latest and greatest products. In addition to sinks and toilets, SB&K carries kitchen appliances from brands such as Viking and AGA, ice machines from Scotsman and Marvel, and outdoor kitchen items. Investing in your kitchen and baths is about more than improving the resale value of your home; it’s about enhancing your daily experience. After all, these are the places where we spend a large part of our days, so it’s important to make the most of each space. 300 35th Street N • Birmingham, AL 35222 • • 205.581.8600


Masters of Design


t J. Wright Building Company, master bathrooms are just one of their specialties. In order to create a sleek and contemporary master bath for this client, the company installed aged brass fixtures and navy blue cabinetry to bring modern touches to a traditional vanity design. High mirrors reflect the natural sunlight streaming from the large double window above the knee space. A freestanding tub sits in front of a spacious double shower, yet there is still plenty of space for a private water closet and a door into the master closet. Dark paneled doors match the cabinetry and create a pleasing contrast against the clean white walls and flooring. If you have a dream master bathroom in mind, J. Wright Building Company can bring your vision to life.

850 Corporate Parkway, Suite 104 • Birmingham, AL 35242 • 205.820.0100 • 56

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2019 AREA Awards Best In Show Winner

C 205.401.2488

onsider your first reaction when you think “home remodeling.” Dust, noise, hassles, extending deadlines, ballooning budgets and crumbling expectations. We believe home remodeling is intimate and personal for every client we serve. We design, engineer, and remodel homes knowing that we are being trusted with what is usually your single largest investment. We take that responsibility seriously. At Lovette Design+Build, we’re rebuilding expectations. j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G


Text by P A I G E T O W N L E Y / Photography by J E A N A L L S O P P

Fashioned for Family 58

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With a growing family and a need for more space, style and marketing guru Hannah Benak put her fashion sensibilities to use in a fabulous new build in Vestavia Hills.

A small passage to the dining room makes a big statement thanks to pecky cypress walls, a gold bench from Design Supply, and a painting by Matthew Mayes—an artist from Hannah’s hometown of Florence, Alabama.

The kitchen opens to the living room and features a center island for casual dining and extra storage. Hannah shopped Ferguson for plumbing fixtures, hardware, and appliances.

annah and Matt Benak knew they would soon be ready to start a family, but they also knew that meant there was a big task at hand: finding a new home with more space. After looking all over Birmingham, they stumbled upon a different option just a couple of streets over from their current Vestavia Hills home. “We heard about a double lot for sale that was slated to have two smaller houses on it,” Hannah says. “We left it as one lot because it would allow us to build the home we wanted and still have a big yard for our kids and entertaining.” With plenty of space to play with, the couple engaged architect Heath Clement to design the home. Their must-have list included an open layout, especially with the main living spaces. “I love to cook, and I don’t want to feel isolated in the kitchen when everyone’s gathered in the living room,” Hannah says. They also wanted a formal dining room and at least three bedrooms upstairs to accommodate out-of-town guests. Heath helped them maximize the square footage, adding ensuite bathrooms for each bedroom to fulfill another wish list item of Matt’s. “It was a great call,” Hannah says. “When we have family in town, everyone has their own space.” The aesthetics of the home were just as important, as Hannah and Matt both wanted a timeless design that wouldn’t 60

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RIGHT: While Hannah chose a neutral color scheme for most rooms, she decided to go bright and colorful with a wallpaper accent wall (Citrus Garden by Schumacher) in the dining room. BELOW: Hannah and Teddy share a playful moment on the front porch. Love Hannah’s look? She’s also the fashion columnist for Birmingham Home & Garden (see page 82) and curator of Looks & Merit. For more great style ideas, follow Hannah Benak at IG @looksandmerit or

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The living room is fashion forward yet completely functional for a growing family. The upholstered ottoman is easy on toddling kids. Chartreuse chairs, along with artwork by Mary Singleton through Gallery 1930, provide a pop of color.


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Hannah wanted a calm, serene master bedroom, which she accomplished with the creams, grays, and soft blues in the bedding, pillows, and rug. The artwork is by Jennifer Gibbs through Gallery 1930/Design Supply.

quickly feel dated or trendy. They approached every decision with that mindset, from paint colors to tile, keeping everything as clean and classic as possible. “We didn’t want to look back and regret any of our decisions,” Hannah says. Creating a neutral palette of whites, creams, soft grays, and blues, along with using triedand-true materials such as subway tile, Calacatta marble, and white oak beams and floors, Hannah was able to weave in pops of color here and there to reveal her energetic personality. In addition to seeking out design assistance from Caitie Morgan, as well as art and accessories from Laura Vogtle of Design Supply, Hannah also drew from her fashion background, blurring the lines between high and low by mixing antiques with bargain finds. Now the couple not only has aesthetically pleasing (and family friendly) design, but also plenty of space for their son, Teddy, and Yorkshire terrier, Coco. “It’s a thrill to be able to come home to this house every day,” says Hannah. “We worked so hard to get the details just right, and it’s everything we wanted it to be—comfortable, livable, and fun.” 64

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The master bath features a marble tiled floor, freestanding tub from Ferguson, and custom drapery. A crystal chandelier adds glamour. OPPOSITE, BOTTOM LEFT: Hannah’s father, a master craftsman and owner of C.E. Black Custom Furniture, built the tiger maple vanity in the hall bath. “It’s my favorite thing in the whole house,” Hannah says. (IG @ceblackcustomfurniture)

“The home we ended up with strikes the perfect balance of everything. It’s where we started a family, and it’s just home.” –HANNAH BENAK

RESOURCES: Architect: B. Heath Clement, AIA, 205.586.4711 Interiors: Caitie Morgan Interiors, Paint colors: Trim: White Dove, Benjamin Moore, Walls: Pearly White, Sherwin Williams, Kitchen cabinets: Agreeable Gray, Sherwin Williams Kitchen island: Urbane Bronze, Sherwin Williams Master bath walls: Classic Gray, Benjamin Moore Ceiling beams and white oak hardwood floors: Evolutia, 855.277.5495, Cabinets: Deep Fried Southern Cabinetry, Tile: South Cypress, 800.891.2623, Countertops: Synergy Stone, 205.556.8115 Plumbing fixtures, appliances, hardware: Ferguson, 205.254.3454, Dining room: Brass side table: Defining Home, 205.803.3662, Living room: Antique Italian sculptor’s table, coffee table, charcoal chairs, pillows: Design Supply, 205.777.3464, Master Bedroom: Bed: Bernhardt, Bedding: Leontine Linens, Master bathroom: Chandelier: Restoration Hardware 205.967.1901, Tile: South Cypress Drapery: custom by Rollins Drapery, 205.841.0372, Hall bath: Sconces: Circa Lighting, Artwork: Carrie Carlton through Gallery 1930, Mirror: Ballard Designs, Plumbing fixtures: Ferguson, 205.254.3454, Marble top on vanity: Synergy Stone

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A cozy banquette tucked into a window-wrapped corner of the kitchen is the perfect place for family dinners or a quiet, early-morning cup of coffee. “The Saarinen tulip table was one of my big furniture purchases, and I love it paired with my Ikea acrylic chairs,� Allison says.


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Text by L A C E Y H O W A R D / Photography by J E A N A L L S O P P


Don’t judge a book by its cover is sound advice for many situations beyond the bookstore—people, places, and this lakeside family home. White shiplap siding sets off the kitchen’s vibrant colors. Cabinets are coated in a preppy spring green (matched to Pantone’s Greenery), and barstools are the color of summer sunshine. The family’s laundry/mudroom/craft room shows a hint of vibrant turquoise that matches the custom color of the turquoise Blue Star range (see page 69).

y daughters describe our home as a ‘surprise house’,” Allison Spensley says. “They say it’s all dark and serious on the outside and then a party on the inside.” Living inside that surprise on a wooded 6-acre lakeside property in Shelby County’s Stonegate Farms are Allison, Steve, and their three children, 11- year-old Emm, 8 year-old Clara, and 3 year-old Charlie, along with Boomer, a chocolate lab, and Felix, a Zambian rescue cat. “My kids love to be busy all the time— making slime, creating art projects, riding

During construction, the Spensleys were living in Zambia, South Africa, where Allison worked in international public health and her husband Steve owned a security company. Allison worked long distance with architect Richard Long, letting family and color be her guide. j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G


The runner is Astro Turf from The Home Depot. “It’s great for picking up mud and debris, and then I can hose it off outside,” Allison says.

their bikes, and running around,” Allison says. “They definitely influenced the way we designed the house.” When the Spensleys first purchased the property, they collaborated with Richard Long of Birmingham’s Long & Long Design on their new home’s architectural plans. “I don’t consider myself a very traditional person, so I didn’t want a formal, traditional house,” Allison says. “Instead, I wanted to create spaces that are friendly and welcoming and encourage togetherness.” Richard and his team designed a five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath, two-story home with about 4,700 square feet of living space. “The home’s exterior architecture is simple, modern, and barn-like with vertical cypress siding, corrugated metal roofing, and a stone water table,” Richard says. Allison adds, “When you enter the house, with its dark, monochromatic exterior, you really don’t expect to find the light, colorful, airy spaces inside. I love that moment.” The interior opens to the main level’s great room encompassing the living, dining, and kitchen areas where color reigns supreme. “It was exciting to work with the Spensleys to transform the rooms with such bold and beautiful hues,” Richard 68

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ABOVE: The entry showcases a colorful elephant painting from Kenya and baskets from Zambia. The console table is a “judgement table” from northern Zambia—a piece around which communities historically held court and made judgements and community decisions. The stairwell is a gallery for Allison’s collection of woven disks from Rwanda. RIGHT: The upstairs hallway is lined with doors painted in a rainbow of hues. “I didn’t want it to end up being a boring hallway, so I created a more powerful moment,” Allison says. “I let the kids choose the colors for the doors to their rooms. The other doors are five huge closets— evidence of Richard’s amazing space-design skills.”

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says. “Many of those wall colors and art pieces represent their love for the culture of Zambia, where they once lived.” The open floorplan is completely focused on family, eschewing conventional spaces for task-oriented areas and together time. “We’ve had formal living and dining areas, and for us they were a waste of space,” Allison says. “Anyone who visits our house has to join into our craziness—there’s no formality in our lives!” One of the Spensleys’ most used spaces is the laundry/mudroom/craft room just off the kitchen. “This area is the headquarters for the family,” Allison says. “It’s usually full of craft supplies, muddy boots, fishing poles, sports equipment, and pet toys. You name it, it’s in there.” The room includes a locker for each family member, a washer and dryer, a dogwash station, project workspace and storage space, food pantry storage, a utility sink, and a desktop. Another one of Allison’s goals was making sure she chose durable materials and furniture. She explains that white quartz countertops from Cottage Supply Company “are indestructible,” a warm stain on oak floors “hides all of the dirt, dust, and debris,” and unlacquered brass fixtures “just get better with time.” And she especially loves the corner protectors that she designed. “They are made of iron that’s painted black and bolted onto interior corners, and they take all the abuse an 11-, 8-, and 3-year-old can give,” she says. 70

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ABOVE: Pillow covers depicting animals are from a line of textiles handmade in rural Mfuwe, Zambia, that Allison offers in her shop, Red Tembo Designs. “Red Tembo is where I source items I love,” she says. “It’s my outlet to express some of my creativity and share amazing finds from around the world. And it gives me a reason to hang on to my shopping addiction.” IG @RedTemboDesigns

This task space is where Allison says she was the most adventurous with color—turquoise walls and cabinets (Cool Aqua, Benjamin Moore), an orange-and-white checkerboard floor (Orange Nectar and Super White, Benjamin Moore), and yellow fixtures. “We have a Dutch door so that we can let the outside in without letting pets out—although more times than not, the door is just completely open,” Allison says.

TOP RIGHT: “Upstairs, a large open landing is a kids’ gathering place. “We designed a playroom/workroom so the kids would have their own space to watch TV and do homework,” Allison says. “They each have a workstation on the built-in desktop.” For the statement wall in the room, she had a specific vision. “I sent very detailed instructions with a sketch and the dimensions of the squares,” Allison says. She also furnished the space with a bunch of super-comfy beanbags that the kids constantly move around to make forts, beds, and TV-watching seats. “The flexibility is great,” Allison says. RIGHT: Even the bathrooms get the color treatment. A neutral base— a white subway tile backsplash and black vanity— is upgraded with yellow walls (Yellow Highlighter, Benjamin Moore), turquoise pendant lighting, and African baskets in a woven rainbow of hues.

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RIGHT: The great room’s living area has seating—enough for the whole family—centered on a big fireplace. The dining table was handmade in Zambia. “It’s super heavy,” Allison says. “We hosted my whole family for the holidays, and with the combination of the dining table and the banquette, we easily seated 18 of us and still had space to set up the island as the serving buffet.” BELOW: The master bathroom is saturated in a turquoisegreen (Bahama Green, Benjamin Moore) with white countertops, a freestanding tub from Fixtures & Finishes, brass fixtures from Brandino Brass, and warm wood floors. “The portraits over the tub are NOT of Steve and me,” Allison says. “We found them at an art market in North Carolina. It makes me laugh that people would think we would hang 4-foot-tall portraits of ourselves in the bathroom.”

“I don’t mind the mess—this is a working family house meant for kids and messes. I don’t want anything too precious that I am worried about getting broken or dirty or ruined. Life is too short to stress about things like that.” —HOMEOWNER ALLISON SPENSLEY RESOURCES: Interiors: Allison Spensley, IG @ RedTemboDesigns, Architect: Richard Long, Long & Long Design,, 205.637.5777 Builder: Ruff Reams,, 205.982.8002 Kitchen and bath cabinets: Bud’s Cabinets, Sylacauga, 256.249.3716 Hardware: Brandino Brass, brandinobrass. com, 205.978.8900 Appliances: AllSouth,, 205.942.0408. Countertops: Cottage Supply Company,, 205.458.0002 Master bathroom fixtures: Fixtures & Finishes, 205.323.5616 Powder room vanity: fabricated by Red Mountain Ironworks,, 205.226.9055 Interior lighting (except for master bathroom): Barn Light Electric Company, barnlight. com Pillow fabric in living room: King Cotton,, 205.732.8283


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COLOR yes, please.

Inspired ideas for filling your home with color and happiness. BE BRAVE. “I chose bright, clear colors that pop from a background of white,” Allison says. “I will be the first to say that my color choices are not for everyone, but I wanted a space that would bring happiness to our lives. I’ve had many people say how brave I am to use the colors I did, but I don’t really think of it that way. I just wanted my home to reflect what makes me smile.”   CHOOSE JOY. “Everywhere I look in the house, I see my creative decisions. They add such joy!” Allison says. A daily activity the Spensleys enjoy is their “happy jar” project. Each family member has his or her own vase to fill with positive thoughts and joyful moments. “Every day, we each write a quick note about something that made us happy that day,” Allison says. At the end of the year, the family reads these reminders together. MAKE A CONNECTION. Allison is a collector of art and objects from around the world, all of which have a place of pride in her home. “My work in international health has taken me all over the globe, and I love finding craft markets and art galleries wherever I go,” she says. “I have become very skilled at fitting whatever I find into my suitcases to bring back home!” Her collections include pieces from Nicaragua, Peru, South Africa, Rwanda, Zambia, and Swaziland.

j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G



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party favors

Turning the big one? Change things up by hosting your own party to surprise the friends that mean the most to you.

Tabletop Design by P A T R I C I A M U R R A Y, T A B L E M A T T E R S / Floral Design by M A R Y C O X B R O W N , M A R I G O L D D E S I G N S / Photography by J E A N A L L S O P P

Guess what!? It’s your birthday! And this year, you can have anything you want. Dinner with friends over a fabulous, colorful table setting filled with all of your favorite things? Check. Your very own signature cocktail, plentiful wine, and a charming bartender? Ok. Party games that make you double over with laughter thanks to jokes old and new? Yes. A playlist with yacht rock and Justin Timberlake? Whatever your jam, it’s yours. One very creative birthday girl checked off all of this and more when she invited friends to a dinner soiree at the John Hand Club and Hotel in downtown Birmingham. Located on the top two floors of the 1912 classical skyscraper, the swanky space proved perfect

ABOVE: Juliska Tulipieres flank the birthday cake, an Olexa’s creation that artistically replicates the Tobacco Leaf pattern on the china.OPPOSITE: Hot pink napkins monogrammed with a pagoda design underscore the table’s exotic flair.

j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G


“I love my friends so much. They have played such big roles in my life. I wanted to celebrate our friendships and do something that would be fun for all of us.” —the Birthday Girl

TOP LEFT: An arrangement of peonies, hydrangeas, tulips, ranunculus, and roses pairs with a signature cocktail in silver julep cups to welcome guests. TOP RIGHT: Floral designer Mary Cox Brown filled the table with single bloom arrangements of peonies, ranunculus, tulips, and anemones in varying shades ranging from pink to red to purple. LEFT: A cake designed by Olexa’s replicates the Tobacco Leaf pattern from Mottahedeh. ABOVE: The colorful setting stands ready for guests and dinner served from The Bright Star.


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for an intimate evening of silliness and elegance. Patricia Murray, owner of Table Matters, and floral genius Mary Cox Brown helped set the scene. “The color scheme and tabletop design all started with the birthday girl’s Tobacco Leaf plates from Mottahedeh,” Patricia says. “From there, we played to the pink hues by introducing the Fish Scale plate in Raspberry by Herend.” Going bold, she worked with Les-Ottomans to design a custom, Turkish silk table cover. “It’s so much fun to mix pattern, color, and textiles,” Patricia says. “The great thing about the Tobacco Leaf pattern is the wide variety of colors you can work with.” Though the primary theme was pink, Patricia tapped into the pattern’s blues with Nason Moretti’s Burlesque Bourgogne goblets crafted of mouthblown Murano glass, along with new and antique blue-and-white containers. Lasercut acrylic chargers lend a contemporary feel. To make it even more personal, the birthday girl used her own sterling, Tiffany’s English King, along with her collection of sterling Wakefield-Scearce goblets. “I wanted to do something small but really nice while staying authentic to the fun we like to have,” she says. And the fine table setting certainly didn’t sway the shenanigans. “The guests had no idea what to expect,” Patricia says. “The whole party was a surprise for them.” Guests managed to surprise the birthday girl too by showing up in memorable outfits with personality: a vintage evening gown, a dress from a high school party, and an Easter Bunny outfit that brought back shared childhood memories. “We had a great time and lots and lots of laughs,” says the birthday girl.

Table Matters

2402 Montevallo Road Birmingham, AL 35223 205.879.0125 •

Mary Cox Brown

Marigold Floral Designs 205.447.4747 • j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G



Summer Sides It doesn’t take much to motivate me to cook in the summer. With fresh ingredients in abundance, the hardest decision is deciding what to make first. I love to throw chicken or fish on the grill and let the sides steal the show. Here are a few of my favorites that highlight the season and are great for a crowd.

learn from Leslie

One-fourth of a medium-size, seedless watermelon will make about six wedges.


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Recipes and Photography by L E S L I E B YA R S R E G I S T E R

For more recipes and fun entertaining ideas, visit or

Heirloom Tomato Onion Plate Heirloom tomatoes, sliced Vidalia onion, sliced Fresh basil leaves Condiments such as balsamic vinegar, Peter Luger”s Steak Sauce, and a good olive oil


ometimes, when I’m running short on time, I like to fix a platter of heirloom tomatoes and onions. I simply slice up a beautiful assortment of colorful tomatoes and a Vidalia onion or two, and then garnish with fresh basil leaves. I place a few condiments nearby for everyone to dress their own as they please. I always have an aged balsamic vinegar, Peter Luger’s Steak Sauce, and an extra-virgin olive oil.

Watermelon “Steak” Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette SERVES 6

6 (1-inch) watermelon wedges, rind removed 1 cup arugula ½ cup blueberries ½ red onion, thinly sliced ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled ¼ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Place watermelon wedges on a flat serving platter. Top each with several pieces of arugula and next 4 ingredients. This can be assembled several hours in advance. Refrigerate until ready to serve. At serving time, drizzle with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette MAKES APPROXIMATELY ½ CUP

¼ cup olive oil ¼ cup balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon honey 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard Salt and pepper to taste Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar. Cover tightly, and shake until thoroughly combined. This can be made up to two days in advance. j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G


Mediterranean Pasta Salad SERVES 12

1 pound bow-tie pasta, cooked according to package directions 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved ½ cup pepperoncini slices ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved ½ cup green onions sliced (about one bunch) ¼ cup sweet onion, diced 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped Lemony-Dill Dressing (recipe at right) ½ cup pine nuts, toasted 80

Lemony-Dill Dressing:

½ cup Romano cheese, grated Basil leaves for garnish

¼ cup olive oil ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon oregano

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini slices, and next 4 ingredients. Toss with LemonyDill Dressing, and refrigerate for several hours, if desired. Before serving, top with toasted pine nuts, grated Romano cheese, and fresh basil leaves.

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Whisk all ingredients in a medium-size measuring cup.

Old-Fashioned Marinated Vegetables MAKES 8 CUPS (SERVES 10 TO 12)

1 cup apple cider vinegar ½ cup vegetable oil ž cup sugar 1 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 cup celery, finely chopped 1 cup green pepper, finely chopped 1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped 3 ears corn, boiled, kernels removed (1 [11-ounce] can shoepeg white corn may be substituted) 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained 1 (14.5-ounce) can green beans, drained 1 (14.5-ounce) French-style green beans, drained Place vinegar and next 5 ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Remove from heat; set aside, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, combine celery and next 6 ingredients. Add vinegar mixture, and toss to coat evenly. Place in a large, airtight container, and store in the refrigerator. The vegetables will keep for up to a week. j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G



By H A N N A H B E N A K

Summer Escape

Head for the Mountains

I love escaping the Alabama summer heat for a week in the mountains. These local finds are the perfect additions to your packing list when you’re planning your retreat. From the softest bamboo top to beautiful swimwear to fun athleisure pieces, these finds have you covered for days spent hiking or poolside (or at the spa). Add in a few fun dinner outfits that you could wear with sandals or booties for chillier nights and you’re all set!

9 8


12 1

11 7

4 6 2

3 1. Tie-dye Maxi Dress - Elle - $275 2. Tank jumpsuit - Mountain High Outfitters - $78 3. Blush bamboo-woven long sleeve top Mountain High Outfitters - $49 4. Striped cropped sweatshirt - Elle - $129 5. Age-defying sunscreen - Beauté Therapie - $52 6. Neon stripe midi leggings ElevenEleven Clothiers - $120

5 7. Black embroidered caftan cover-up Beauté Therapie - call for price: 205.538.5430 8. Blush high-waisted bikini and one-piece bathing suits Beauté Therapie - call for price: 205.538.5430 9. Navy midi dress with gold stripes - Elle - $215 10. Black tie-front jumpsuit - Manhattan South - $385 11. Pinstripe tank - ElevenEleven Clothiers - $64 12. Floral babydoll dress - Tulipano - $225

Hannah Benak is a public relations executive in Birmingham, Alabama, and the curator of Looks & Merit, which provides sensible style advice for women everywhere. Hannah’s experience in the fashion industry includes work with ELLE magazine, designer Billy Reid, and fashion blogs. She is fiercely passionate about empowering women to feel great about their outfits AND their accomplishments, because #looksandmerit are NOT mutually exclusive. 82

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j u l y. a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 | BH&G


Profile for Birmingham Home & Garden

Birmingham Home & Garden - July/August 2019  

Birmingham Home & Garden - July/August 2019