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OFFICE PETS | FIVE DISTINCTIVE VALLEY HOMES | SLEEP TIGHT: WELL-MADE BEDS

LAUREN McCAUL

ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY MAY/JUNE $4.95

noalastudios.com

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May/June

38

features

A Classic Cottage

22

by allen tomlinson photos by patrick hood

Classic Meets Comfort by sara wright covington photos by patrick hood

46 A Stable Place b guy mcclure, jr. by photos by p olivia reed o

Everything Old Is New Again Huntsville designer Lauren McCaul’s posh and playful home proves you don’t have to spend a fortune to look like a million bucks. by roy hall photos by lauren tomasella

74

30 Life Begins at Home A Huntsville designer makes her personal statement. by guy mcclure, jr. photos by patrick hood

52 Old Town Jewel by guy mcclure, jr. photos by olivia reed


editor’s letter « Allen Tomlinson

no’ala huntsville advisory board Osie Adelfang ARC Design-Build, Inc. Donna Castellano Historic Huntsville Foundation Lynne Berry HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Sarah Brewer Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer Madeline Boswell Finery Bridal Boutique Jennifer Doss Huntsville Hospital Leslie Ecklund Burritt on the Mountain Marcia Freeland Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment Dan Halcomb Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Elizabeth Jones Burritt on the Mountain Ginger Penney Liles Guy McClure, Jr. Athens State University Patrick Robbins Alabama Pain Center Ashley Vaughn White Rabbit Studios/Vertical Records Charles Vaughn Vaughn Lumber Company Anna Baker Warren Anna Baker Warren Interiors Andrew Wilmon Broadway Theatre League

“Home,”

said one Pinterest post that caught my eye, “is where you treat friends like family and family like friends.” One of the reasons that we love putting together our annual Home and Garden issue is that a home is the best expression of a person’s personality you can find. Our homes—our personal spaces, those places we spend most of our time, the spots we feel most comfortable in the whole world—represent who we are and who we want to be. When we show you a person’s home, we’re showing you a glimpse of their personality. So, welcome to our annual celebration of homes and the people who live in them, where we promise you’ll get lots of ideas for your own. There are homes in the historic district, and homes that have been reinvented and reimagined. There are homes whose owners have cleverly used found objects, and homes so rich in history you wish the walls could talk. There are lots of pictures and lots of ideas in these pages, so take some time to let it all sink in. We hope you enjoy it! After a couple of years at Lowe Mill, a special and creative space we will always love, the No’Ala Huntsville offices have moved downtown to an upstairs office at Harrison Brothers Hardware Store. We have been so excited about the work we see and the energy that’s all around downtown that we wanted to be in the middle of all of it. Our office mates, Historic Huntsville Foundation, are also a wealth of information about where we have come from, and from our second-floor window we can see where the city is going. If you haven’t browsed through Harrison Brothers, you should treat yourself—but allow plenty of time. There’s so much to see! As you read about these beautiful homes and become inspired to do some spring cleaning and sprucing up, please remember that just about everything you could possibly need can be found right here in the Valley. Shop the Valley this spring, and please mention to the shopkeepers that you saw them in No’Ala Huntsville. Enjoy the spring—this is the best season of the year in Alabama!


contents

22

© Patrick Hood

everything else 8 10

Calendar

No’Ala Huntsville is published six times annually by No’Ala Studios PO Box 2530, Florence, AL 35630 Phone: (800) 779-4222 | Fax: (256) 766-4106 Web: noalastudios.com

Selected Events for May/June 2015

Cryin’ Out Loud “The Boar’s Head Over My Bed” by sara wright covington

12

Market “Sleep Tight” by sara wright covington hotos by patrick hood

84

The Vine “Sauvignon and Sancerre” by amy c. collins

86

Bless Their Hearts “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” lu ellen redding

88

Food for Thought “Taming the Evil Squash Monster” by sarah gaede

90

Parting Shot

MAY/JUNE 2015 Volume 4: Issue 3 ••• Editor-in-Chief C. Allen Tomlinson Chief Operating Officer Matthew Liles Creative Director David Sims Advertising Director Heidi King Advertising Sales Heidi King Features Manager Roy Hall Graphic Designer Rowan Finnegan Web Designer Justin Hall Editorial Assistant LuEllen Redding Videographer Justin Argo Retail Product Manager Sara Wright Covington Proofreader Carole Maynard Intern Isaac Ray Norris ••• Contributing Writers Amy C. Collins, Sara Wright Covington, Sarah Gaede, Roy Hall, Guy McClure, Jr., LuEllen Redding, Allen Tomlinson ••• Contributing Photographers Patrick Hood, Danny Mitchell, Olivia Reed, Lauren Tomasella •••

62 Another Day at the Office It’s business as usual for these canine-to-fivers and their feline friends. by roy hall photos by danny mitchell

Standard postage paid at Huntsville, AL. A one-year subscription is $19.95 for delivery in the United States. Signed articles reflect only the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors. Advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. © 2008-2015 No’Ala Studios, All rights reserved. Send all correspondence to Allen Tomlinson, Editor, at the postal address above, or by e-mail to allen@noalastudios.com. Letters may be edited for space and style. To advertise, contact us at (256) 766-4222, or sales@noalastudios.com. The editor will provide writer’s guidelines upon request. Prospective authors should not submit unsolicited manuscripts; please query the editor first. No’Ala Huntsville is printed with vegetable-based inks. Please recycle.

by patrick hood Connect with us on Facebook: No’Ala Huntsville Twitter: @NoAla_Magazine and Pinterest: NoAlaStudios


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calendar

Friday, May 1 - Saturday, June 27 Huntsville Museum of Art Exhibit: John James Audubon: Quadrupeds of North America John James Audubon joined with his son, John Woodhouse Audubon, and Dr. John Bachman of Charleston to document the region’s quadrupeds. They are considered the finest prints of their kind published in America. Tues-Sat 11:00am-5:00pm, Thurs 11:00am-8:00pm, and Sun Noon-5:00pm; Admission charged; Huntsville Museum of Art, 300 Church St; (256) 5354350; hsvmuseum.org Friday, May 1 - Saturday, May 2 Whistlestop Festival and Rocket City BBQ Cook-off Come have a toe-tappin’, barbeque-eatin’ good time and best of all, it’s all for a good cause. All proceeds benefit EarlyWorks Children’s Museum and educational programs for area children. Fri 4:00pm-11:00pm, Sat 10:00am-11:00pm; Admission charged; Downtown Huntsville at the Historic Depot; (256) 564-8100; thewhistlestopfestival.com Saturday, May 2 Huntsville Symphony Orchestra: On A High Note The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Gregory Vajda, presents three perspectives on classical music: a flashy ladies man, an introspective devotee of his own folk culture, and a gruff conservative maintaining his faith in the old styles of composition. The combined works of Liszt, Bartók, and Brahms create a powerful evening. This also marks the return of violinist Elina Vähälä, a Huntsville favorite. 7:30pm; Admission charged; Mark C. Smith Concert Hall, Von Braun Center, 700 Monroe St; (256) 539-4818; hso.org Friday, May 15 and Friday, June 19 Food Truck Rally Listen to Denim Jawbones this month while enjoying local craft beer and more than 20 local food trucks. The Street Food Gatherings for 2015 will be held every third Friday of the month from April to October. 6:00pm-9:00pm; Free; Church St; downtownhuntsville.org Friday, June 5 and Friday, June 26 Art Walk on the Square Bring the family and enjoy your Friday night, shopping local in Downtown Huntsville. This event hosts a wide variety of artisans, who will be set up on Courthouse Square. Live music will add to the ambiance. 5:00pm-8:00pm; Free; Downtown; downtownhuntsville.org Saturday, June 6 Family Fun Festival & Expo: Live, Laugh and Learn This annual community event offers face-to-face interactions with exhibitors that support families, fun, and learning! In addition to the expo, there will be kids’ activities and a variety of performances throughout the day.  Food vendors will be on site. 10:00am-7:00pm; Free Admission; Von Braun Center South Hall; familyfunfesthsv.com Saturday, June 6 City Lights and Stars Featuring Karen Johns and Company A genuine triple-threat performer (vocalist, actress, and dancer), acclaimed jazz artist Karen Johns captivates her audience with magnetic stage presence and beautiful, pristine vocals. 7:30pm; Admission charged; Burritt on the Mountain, 3101 Burritt Dr; (256) 536-2888; burrittonthemountain.com NASA Day on the Square NASA will celebrate and showcase its latest endeavors in a festive, family-friendly atmosphere. 11:00am-4:00pm; Free; Downtown Huntsville; downtownhuntsville.org


LEAVE A MARK THAT WILL LAST A LIFETIME Want to honor your University of NORTH ALABAMA grad?

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CONTACT Haley Brink at 256-765-5080 or htbrink@una.edu may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


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cryin’ out loud » Sara Wright Covington I know that no amount of parental protection can ever fully defend against all of the scraped knees, broken hearts, unexpected outcomes, and just general bad days that will build the beautifully flawed armor [my kids] need to fend for themselves.

THE BOAR’S HEAD OVER MY BABY BED For several months in the winter of , a taxidermic boar’s head held residence on the wall above my baby crib. Stuffed animals are certainly expected inside a crib, but stuffed, formerly live ones mounted above it are somewhat less common. To this day, there is much debate in my family over the details of exactly how and when the dead boar came to be over my crib. One theory held that the boar’s head hung in what was the family office before my birth, and was simply never moved when the room was converted to a nursery. The other—entirely false, but more interesting theory—suggests that the boar’s head didn’t show up until after the room became a nursery, and it was hung, deliberately, by my father. Because my dad has always been a loyal, card-carrying member of the NRA and an avid supporter of home security of any sort, my family adopted their own embellished reasoning to go with a version of the latter, more ridiculous theory: the boar’s head was hung as a simple defense mechanism to startle, and thus thwart, would-be intruders. (In all fairness, it should be noted that my father vehemently denies that the creature ever hung in our house at all, and maintains that it actually hung in his office at work. Alas, no pictures seem to exist to prove otherwise.) Whatever the reason for the creature over my crib, the repetitive recounting of this familial yarn made enough of an impression on me that the boar’s head became a metaphor in my mind for safety—a sort of dead-animal-tangible, that might ward off danger from the world. I’ve thought about that ridiculous boar’s head many nights when tucking my children into their beds, and I often find myself looking for my own figurative boar-headed blockades to protect them. When they are young, it’s really all about their physical wellbeing. We want to keep them safe and sound, healthy and thriving. As they get older and move beyond the confines of their cribs, we worry about the safety of their hearts, feelings, and beliefs, and realize that it was much easier to keep them “safe” before they became able to do all of that moving, talking, thinking, and interacting. Cell phones and social media offer threats that weren’t even thought of during my childhood, and I can’t help but feel my parents had things a little simpler when keeping my sister and me safe. When we were bored, we read books, talked on the phone, played outside, and watched Growing Pains on TV. Now we have to worry about an entire world of outside interactions that no stuffed animal, real or fake, can hold at bay. As I talk with my friends who have older children, I am realizing that experiencing the second-hand growing pains of our children may be even tougher than the first go-round. So I do the best I can to brace myself for those growing pains, realizing that they will likely be much more intense than the 1980s sitcom. My friend Keri who has children older than mine recently used the analogy to her children that middle school is like boot camp. High school will still be a war, but they will be tougher and more prepared when it arrives. “And let’s face it,” she says. “Middle school just builds character.”


I remember thinking my parents were unreasonably overprotective in my youth. I was barely allowed to cross the street until I was 13, and once, my dad built me a treehouse where he actually made a rope harness for me to wear in case I fell out of it. It is no fun playing up in a pine tree when you are harnessed to it—not to mention the sap. I rolled my eyes in disdain when I got my driver’s license at 16 and they told me to avoid Woodward Avenue at all costs, and I stomped my feet in frustration when they wouldn’t allow me to leave the country to go to Mexico with 25 other 18-year-olds for my senior trip. I realize now what I could not see at the time: my parents actually trusted me very much; it was other people and dangers of the world that made them worry. I’m accepting that parenting is a constant catch 22. It can be exhausting to bathe, feed, dress, and just generally nurture these small people who cannot take care of themselves and need you constantly. And so we whine about our exhaustion, only to be reminded by someone older and wiser to “enjoy these days of knowing where they are all the time,” and “enjoy them while they still look to you and know you will protect them.” My friend Keri summed up parenting perfectly when she suggested that sometimes the best thing a parent can do is back away and allow children to learn to problem-solve on their own. So as I attempt to savor the sweet innocent baby years, I can only hope that I am giving them the tools they will need to fight their own battles. I hope they will never be afraid to march to their own drum, read books not on the required reading list, be kind when it’s inconvenient, and do the right thing when no one is watching. Mostly, as cliché as it is, I just want them to be happy. Truly happy. Pursuing whatever it is in life that gives them purpose, and passion, and peace within their little souls. I know that no amount of parental protection can ever fully defend against all of the scraped knees, broken hearts, unexpected outcomes, and just general bad days that will build the beautifully flawed armor they need to fend for themselves and—as painful as it might be for me to watch—I wouldn’t want it to. I just hope my own armor is up for the task as well. As for that emblematic boar’s head, it was long ago tossed out. Once again, the details are fuzzy on exactly how and when it happened. But to this day, I have never been able to look at any dead, mounted creature without wondering if it, too, once hung in a nursery.

may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


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market » Sara Wright Covington » Photos by Patrick Hood

SLEEP TIGHT

Oriental Rug (price on request) Willowbrook Shoppe (256) 270-7181 Hunter Boots ($158) Alabama Outdoors (256) 885-3561 Hydrangea Stems ($16.50 ea) Wooden Tray ($29) Hardback Books ($25 to $32.50) Assorted Seed Packets ($1.99 ea) The Greenery (256) 518-9836 Gleena Dinner Plate ($45) Maggy Ames Mug ($24) Hanging Lorgnette Glasses ($82) Little Green Store (256) 539-9699 Twin Quilt ($370) White Lumbar Pillow ($88) Gold and White Throw Pillow ($125) Sweet Pineapple (256) 964-7563


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market » Sara Wright Covington » Photos by Patrick Hood

Twin Floral Quilt ($325) Brown and White Pillow ($150) Pink and White Lumbar Pillow ($185) Sweet Pineapple (256) 964-7563 Blue Bikini ($39.94) Belk belk.com Plum Pretty Sugar Shortie Set ($45) Amanda Marcucci Necklace ($228) Finery (256) 429-3429 Straw Hat ($29.99) The Village Shoppe (256) 383-1133 Sunglasses ($169) Alabama Outdoors (256) 885-3561 Orange Flower Indoor/ Outdoor Pillow ($44) The Greenery (256) 518-9836 Small Table/Stool ($32) The Greenery (256) 518-9836 Oriental Rug (price on request) Willowbrook Shoppe (256) 270-7181

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market » Sara Wright Covington » Photos by Patrick Hood

Twin Quilt ($275) Black and White Deco Pillow ($166) Grey and White Hand-Knotted Pillow ($100) Black and White Palm Pillow ($32) Set of 4 Coasters ($20) Grid Notebook ($26) Sweet Pineapple (256) 964-7563 Sunglasses ($159) OluKai Flip Flops ($85) Free Fly Boxer Briefs ($23.95) Alabama Outdoors T-Shirt ($25) Alabama Outdoors (256) 885-3561 Slightly Alabama Leather iPad Case ($250) Peg and Awl Journey Bag ($275) Little Green Store (256) 539-9699

 | noalastudios.com | may/june 


News, classical music and more 88.7 FM Muscle Shoals • 100.7 FM Huntsville www.apr.org may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


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market » Sara Wright Covington » Photos by Patrick Hood

Blue Throw ($88) Firenze (256) 760-1963 White Teddy ($175) White Kimono ($385) Daisy & Elizabeth Bra and Panty Set ($150) Finery (256) 429-3429 Twin Duvet ($360) Aqua and White Pillow ($150) Wooden Tray ($28) Sweet Pineapple (256) 964-7563 Red Journal ($18) Little Green Store (256) 539-9699 Brown Book ($22) Floral Pillow ($154) The Greenery (256) 518-9836 Oriental Rug (price on request) Willowbrook Shoppe (256) 270-7181

 | noalastudios.com | may/june 


I can help you

GROW

your own way.

Emily Taylor 5510 Promenade Point Pkwy, Suite 160 Madison, AL 35757 256-430-2781

1114-519HO

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scene

Middie Thompson, Kendall Black, and Betty Schonrock Lady Tucker, Suzanne O’Connor, Sandy Knowling, and Liz Stagg

Bob and Ramona Boyer Ruth Yates and Jan Krell

Cheryl Bence and Julie Malone Gregg, Alex, and Anna Smith

Sarah Hereford, Gregory Vajda, and Nancy Van Valkenburgh

Eula and Tommy Battle

Crescen-Dough Auction presented by Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild friday, april ,  · von braun center, huntsville

Linda Akenhead, Kala and Vijay Patel Liz Calvert, Lizzy Norris, Jordan Hanks, and Sara Parker Bence John and Darlene McMullan Patrick Robbins and Chris Wesley Skipper and Nancy Colin

Penny Bashore, Cathy Lewis, and Darla Malueg *Names | noalastudios.com for photos are provided | may/june by  the organization or business featured.

Dorcas Harris and Dan Halcomb

Tommy and Debbie Overcash, Bill and Terri Tatum


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The living room has also become a favorite napping spot for the family dog, Chloe. “This is Chloe’s room and that bench is her day bed!” says Lisa.

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CLASSIC MEETS COMFORT text by sara wright covington » photos by patrick hood

When Scott and Lisa Moore purchased their traditional brick home in the Ledges just over a year and a half ago, their goal was to create a comfortable, elegant space where family and friends could help them unwind and enjoy the panoramic views in classic style. “Rick and Eleanor Loring built this house,” says Lisa. “And to their credit, the bones and the structure of the house are already wonderful. Eleanor has a very elegant style, so we had a very easy foundation to work off of when we made this our home.” The Moores worked with interior decorator Beverly Bragg to realize their vision for a space that is both relaxing and entertaining, while maintaining a sense of refinement. “I like a timeless style,” says Lisa. “But Beverly also tried to balance comfort with style. When we entertain, we want people to feel at ease here.”

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When creating functional space in their new home, the Moores wanted to have a formal living room (facing page) as well as a space for the family piano. Complete with cozy couches, swiveling chairs, and a fireplace, the room has turned out to be one of the most used spaces in the house. “I was reluctant about how Beverly was going to pull together our formal living room,” says Lisa. “She insisted she wanted it to be a room we lived in and not just a room to look at. I was nervous about how it would look to have swivel chairs in such a formal room, but I will say that it is one of the rooms we use the most because it can seat everyone.” While working with designer Beverly Bragg, the Moore’s vision was to create a space that would serve as both a calming retreat and a mainstay for merrymaking. Each room’s colors and furniture were chosen with form and function in mind. “We call this our sun room,” says Lisa (above). “We chose this marine blue because we just wanted it to be tranquil and happy. It’s a very comfortable and calming room, and I just wanted it to have a light and airy feel.” Left: The home office

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The Moore’s home features a formal dining room (above, left), butler’s pantry (above), and breakfast area off the kitchen (facing page). As the kitchen is generally the hub for holiday gatherings and parties alike, the Moores worked to create a space open and inviting enough to accommodate the flow of their parties. “We enjoy entertaining and both the kitchen and our butler’s pantry are great entertaining spaces,” says Lisa. Left: A collection space for their wine was important to the Moores when creating their downstairs layout. “My husband is a collector of wines and enjoys wine tastings,” says Lisa. “And we enjoy going to Napa. I think it holds 300 bottles.”

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This page–above, left: The patio space offers sweeping views of the valley below. In addition to screening in a porch and adding a patio, the Moores also decided to make use of the basement level space, which had previously not been used. “Beverly Bragg designed the entire basement level,” says Lisa. “My concern was just managing the space. It was one long room with a concrete floor and no plumbing. We had to put the walls in. We knew we wanted a theatre room, wine storage, and then a work-out area. So we had some distinct requirements, but Beverly had the vision and drew and designed it all.” In addition to a home theatre, the downstairs now boasts a bar, kitchen area, seating area, play room, work-out space, and wine cellar (page 26). “We love to entertain and have different styles of parties,” says Lisa. The Moores added an outdoor patio that features an outdoor fireplace, refrigerator, ice maker, and a grill with a vent. “It’s such a fun place,” says Lisa. “We pretty much use the patio year round. When it’s chilly, we have the fire going, and there is a TV over the fireplace.” Facing page: The master bath.

may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


A Huntsville designer makes her personal statement text by guy mcclure, jr. » photos by patrick hood

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As one of the region’s most sought-after designers, Lila Pryor Frank works with color every day. “When I come home, I want a peaceful environment,” she says, and her Huntsville home is a tranquil, beautiful respite from the hectic pace of the world. The southeast Huntsville townhouse was a blank canvas when Lila found it and took on the task of transforming it with her signature style. With three levels and a grouping of small rooms on each floor, the talented designer considers this project a work in progress. “When we first moved here, my

Facing page: Lila designed the light fixture in the entry

son practiced his basketball shots in the dining room,” she re-

hall; the coral walls

members with a laugh. As he grew and their lives changed, the

and gold accents set

home adapted to each phase of their lives.

the tone for the rest of the house. Below:

A panoply of colors and fabrics, both rich and subdued, are grounded by richly textured rugs, both antique and contemporary, that Lila has collected over the years. Heirloom antiques marry well with modern accent pieces to create a feeling of restrained whimsy. Well-placed lighting (including many lamps and fixtures with beautiful and unusual shades) accents and calms all areas of the home in a peaceful manner and sets the stage for each space.  With a great collection of both inherited and procured furniture, tying all the pieces together to make a cohesive statement was a challenge. The textures, finishes, and artwork play pivotal roles in doing just that. Rich corals play well with cool blues; the deep mahogany pieces compliment Lucite accessories; contemporary framed art looks at home next to classic oil paintings. Perfect little details make a very large statement here.

A mirror in the front hall gives a glimpse of the stairway to the upper floor.


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Facing page: The welcoming entrance to Lila Pryor Frank’s townhome. This page: The living room, with its zebra rug and leopard print pillows, invites the guest to sit, relax, and unwind. Stacks of design books in front of the fireplace make their own design statement.

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The main floor living area is a favorite gathering place. The seating is as comfortable and relaxed as the conversations that occur between friends in this friendly room. French doors lead to a broad balcony that runs the width of the townhouse. The moldings and woodwork in the home are traditional, but updated and fresh. It takes a lot of creativity to make a blank slate exciting and different. This much-loved work in progress is a wonderful example of lots of good things in a small package, and is a testament to how a fine collection of parts can make a beautiful sum.

Facing page: Lila’s dining room features a burl wood chest with family photographs and part of her extensive collection of lambs. (Lila’s middle name is Lamb.) This page, above: The kitchen’s breakfast nook has a bay window with a view of the front of the house. Left: A view from the living room into the dining room.


At one corner of the living room is Lila’s desk and a portrait of her son, painted when he was a teenager.

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he historic districts of Huntsville are wonderful places to live, and perfectly appropriate if you are the Executive Director of Historic Huntsville Foundation and love history. But when Donna and Michael Castellano found this cottage, it had been empty for several years, and needed a lot of care. That can be frightening to many people, but not to Donna, who immediately saw its potential. “The first time I walked in, I knew this house had everything our family needed,” she said. A work in progress, as are most all houses, today the cottage blends sophisticated, soft colors and materials with a bright and eclectic collection of outsider art to create an inviting and warm residence within walking distance of downtown. The walls are painted a neutral color to provide the perfect backdrop for varied and colorful art pieces. The kitchen at the back of the house was expanded and a study area added to the rear of the house; it’s not evident from the street, but it creates a series of comfortable sitting areas for the family and guests. Cabinets in the kitchen show china collections that are themselves works of art, but expansive counters and lots of room allow for great entertaining. While renovating the downstairs bathroom, renovation contractor Charles Vaughn discovered that the house had double brick walls, and the Castellanos decided to leave the brick exposed. The result is a contemporary master bath with a huge walk-in shower that blends with the house. What the family has been able to do is create an inviting space that invites guests to linger. There’s something interesting on every wall, and every piece of art has a story. “I wanted our house to feel like a warm hug,” said Donna, and that’s the best possible description of this charming house. You are aware of its history, but appreciate the work that has gone into its renovation to make it contemporary and livable. And who doesn’t love a warm hug?

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a Classic Cottage text by allen tomlinson » photos by patrick hood

The exterior of this cottage in a Huntsville historic district, with its inviting front porch, is picture perfect. When the visitor enters the front door, the house reveals itself as a spacious gallery for an eclectic collection of outsider art. may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


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Left: The kitchen was expanded and a family study was added behind it. The open cabinets (above, left) and expansive countertops make this the perfect space for entertaining. Above: The television in the study is mounted low, at eye level from the sofas and chairs, and gives more space above for art. Left: The area between the living room and kitchen is now a sitting area, where bright sunlight pours through the window and highlights more colorful art.

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Above: A pair of vases in the windows on either side of the fireplace are bathed in light. The fireplace screen is a repurposed garden gate. Left: There are interesting and beautiful things no matter where you cast your eyes. Facing page: A view from the living room into the dining room through one of the house’s many arched doorways.

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Facing page: When remodeling the bathroom, the owners discovered that the house’s walls were made of double brick, which they decided to leave exposed. Above: Even the master bedroom is a showplace for original art. Left: In the sitting room by the stairs is an original piece of art, which sits on a hand made table.

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ONSITE LIVING DURING A RENOVATION

It may just be a temporary home for the Malone family, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way; there are beautiful furnishings, rugs, and art that make this barn a great spot for living while the main house is undergoing renovation.

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text by guy mcclure, jr. » photos by olivia reed

When Laura and Darren Malone found the perfect house for their family, in the Twickenham Historic District of Huntsville, it came with a “gift with purchase.” The “gift” in a bright red package was a small two-level barn that had been renovated into an apartment by the former property owner. Today, the family’s permanent residence—constructed in the late 1960s by Martha Simms Rambo—is undergoing a complete renovation, overseen by architect and neighbor Frank Nola. The project is so involved that the couple, their two teenaged daughters, and two adorable long-haired dachshunds have taken up residency in the barn. This board and batten barn was actually once an outbuilding of the 1836 Governor Bibb House on Williams Avenue. As property lines changed, the outbuilding became separated from the Bibb House and wound up fronting Cruse Alley, a small lane that connects Adams and Franklin Streets. The alley that was once only service access to the stately homes on Williams Avenue is now a charming residential street, where new construction takes great pains to emulate the historic architecture of the neighborhood. The late local architectural historian Harvie Jones said the date of construction of the barn is unknown, but it is probably early 20th century and certainly the oldest surviving structure on the street.    When Martha Rambo built her Williamsburgstyle two-story home, the barn became a part of the estate. She renovated the bright red outbuilding into a comfortable rental unit whose list of past residents includes a who’s-who of old Huntsville. 

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Facing page: The barn’s kitchen is just right for this family of four. The cabinets are board and batten, which reflect the motif throughout the house. This page: Although more rustic than the house they are remodeling, art and carefully selected pieces of furniture make the space comfortable and elegant.

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As temporary residents, the Malones have filled the space with a partial representation of their collection of antique and contemporary art. These bright pieces complement the roughhewn and whitewashed walls of the barn. Neutral textured rugs in the main living area cover a battleship grey painted concrete floor. All in all, select pieces of furniture from the main house fit perfectly in this space—if only for a period of months—while the permanent residence gets a makeover. One perk of their temporary residency is that the homeowners are allowed the chance to watch the renovation next door take shape. Literally, a few feet away from the barn they can see the progress as it happens at the main house. The career couple and their busy teenaged daughters are enjoying their small space, knowing it’s temporary, but still decorated and designed to feel just like home.

Opens March 28, 2015 Programmable robots mimic how animals function in their environment. Enjoy engaging, hands-on activities and explore scientific principles in ecology, biology, physics and engineering. Experience imagination in motion in “The Robot Zoo!” The spacious master bedroom (above, left) and the girls’ room (facing page, left) will be converted back to guest quarters once the main house project is completed. Above: A study nook at the top of the stairs.

rocketcenter.com 1 Tranquility Base • Huntsville, AL 35805 (256) 837-3400 • (800) 637-7223

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text by guy mcclure, jr. » photos by olivia reed

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Four years ago, Leslie and Drew Lockhart were looking for a “diamond in the rough” when they found exactly what they were looking for in the Old Town Historic District of Huntsville. But this gem was not only rough, it was about three times too small to fit the needs of their family. But Leslie, an artist, saw potential so the house was purchased and work began. Built in 1908, the one-bedroom, onebath Pulley House was completely gutted and metamorphosized into a threebedroom,

three-bath

comfortable

home that is perfect for entertaining. It is now large enough for their needs, but still maintains the cottage charm of the Clinton Street neighborhood. The renovation process, overseen by architect Ned Jones and contractor Les Thornton, included the removal and storage of the original hardwood floorFacing page: Not only is Leslie an artist, but she and Drew are also art collectors. Above: Beautiful rugs sit on original hardwood floors thath were carefully removed and stored before being refinished and reinstalled.

ing. Once new subflooring was installed, the salvaged planks were refinished and replaced in the original footprint on the living areas of the home. The tall doorways, complete with transoms, were beyond repair; Drew refinished every door and hardware piece himself, with a heat gun. An unsuccessful effort was made to salvage the transom glass panes that had been painted over, but original glass pieces from windows that were deemed unsalvageable became their replacements.

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Friend, neighbor, and legendary garden designer Bill Nance assisted with the exterior living spaces. The terraced front of the home is near completion and the plans for the rear of the house are in place and ready to begin. One of the couple’s favorite rooms is the kitchen, which is a perfect blend of old and new. Contemporary fixtures and appliances blend well with the house’s early 20th century bones. A large island is a favorite gathering spot when friends come to visit. The room’s open design is inviting and is the cen-

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The original house had one bedroom and one bath; the original living room area has become an intimate sitting area around the fireplace.

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The home went from a one-bedroom, one-bath cottage to an expansive threebedroom, three-bathroom family home. A large new kitchen is visible from the family room, which also has its own fireplace.

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tral point for the other spaces of the home. Decorated in calm and casual tones, the house serves as the perfect place to display Leslie’s fresh and whimsical paintings. They hang well next to the couple’s other collections of artwork, and accent the antique and contemporary furniture pieces. This work-in-progress home includes plans for an art studio above the one-car garage, located in the backyard, which will allow space and light for Leslie’s

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This page: Marble countertops, comfortable bar stools, and lots of light make this kitchen a gathering place. Facing page: A neutral color scheme allows art and antiques to take center stage.

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One of the new bedrooms and baths, tastefully added to the historic home, but with details that blend with the house’s historic roots.

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creations. The kitchen, although perfectly equipped to whip up a Thanksgiving dinner at a moment’s notice, is still not finished in the Lockharts’ eyes. With a house of this era, intertwined with the changing needs of a modern family, it takes long-term vision and goal setting, but that doesn’t scare the Lockharts. This labor of love has already created a brightly shining gem.

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SHeLlY A nine-month-old Whippet, Shelly divides her busy workday between chasing toys in the home store’s long hallway and creating a happy, welcoming atmosphere in the rest of the store. If Shelly’s frequent naps are any indication, it all must be exhausting work! Becky and Janice The Greenery

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photos by danny mitchell » text by roy hall

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JOULeS Having four-year-old Goldendoodle Joules around makes the office feel more like home. She’s been Rocket City HR’s fourlegged greeter since September 2014. The first time I left her in the office by herself, I came back after a short meeting to find her on top of the front desk, looking out the window. It’s been her perch-of-choice ever since. Samantha Brinkley Rocket City HR

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MAUDe Maude, a six-month-old Australian Shepherd, has grown up in The Toy Store—she was delivered here as soon as she was old enough to leave her litter mates. Having Maude around adds an extra bit of playfulness to an already fun atmosphere. Everybody who meets her falls in love at first sight. Susan Blevins The Toy Place

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LoTtIE With the exception of one feathered bird ornament, Lottie has never disturbed a single item of inventory in the more than 13 years she’s served as greeter and babysitter at Brooks and Collier. Lottie loves all our customers. If you forget to love her back, she’s more than happy to remind you with a gentle woof. Kim and Greg Brooks Brooks and Collier

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SpOoK We found our very special black cat, Spook, in the dumpster behind the store. He was only four weeks old at the time, terrified and very sick. Spook required surgery, but he’s a fully recovered, happy and healthy three and a half years old now. Spook’s canine siblings, six-and-a-half-year-old Pomeranians Daubie and Pixie (page 70), have been coming to work with me from the time they were puppies. Daubie, Pixie, and Spook have one thing in common: they love our postman, Lydrell. Spook comes running from the back room when Lydrell calls for him— just like a dog! Theresa Carlisle Neighborhood Card & Gift

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DAUBIE AND PIXIe

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scene

Rebecca Nelson, Mark Childress, Gregory Vajda, Diane Babb, and Robert Babb Karen Young, Rebecca Nelson, Vivienne Atkins, and Elizabeth Stephenson Georgia Bottoms performance

Jerry Nutt, Gregory Vajda, and Mark Childress

Patrick Robbins and Sean Rittenour

Dorcas Harris and Frances Huffman

Rebecca Nelson and friends

Mark Childress and Rebecca Nelson

Below: EarlyWorks Society’s Bunny Brunch and Egg Hunt

Above: Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s World Premiere of Georgia Bottoms february ,  · mark c. smith concert hall, huntsville

march ,  · earlyworks children’s museum and constitution village

Marilynn Woodward EarlyWorks Society Members

Amelia Langston Michael Campbell, Janie Johnson, and John Campbell

Violet Keith

Tamitha,Tate, Tessa, and John Dollman

* Names for photos are provided by the organization or business featured.

Nora Geohagan Janie Johnson


Join us on a musical journey for the 2015-2016 season. Season tickets now available. Single ticket sales begin July 1, 2015. 256-539-4818 or hso.org may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN text by roy hall » photos by lauren tomasella

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If you’ve visited a dorm in the last three decades—either as a student or a teary-eyed parent in August—you may have spotted her. Lying there in a heap, among the suitcases, bicycles, and bulletin boards, or leaning against the wall beside a hot rod poster: Queen Elizabeth II. Facing page: Enter laughing: Style maven and intrepid collector Lauren McCaul in the foyer of her joyously rambunctious historic Huntsville residence. Above: A room fit for a queen. In McCaul’s dynamic home, change is the only constant. Even Elizabeth Windsor knows—if you blink, you might miss something.

Or Andy Warhol’s screen print version, at least. Warhol gave Britain’s head of state the ol’ Campbell’s soup can treatment in 1982 by reimagining her regal visage in the context of his trademark color blocking. Provocative at the time, through the miracle of mass production, the artwork itself has become familiar and, in the process, deprived of its ability to surprise. But look at it perched above Lauren McCaul’s crisp white fireplace, flanked by found art, foo dogs, and a mother-inlaw’s tongue, and see it again, for the first time. There’s a lot to see again for the first time in the home of Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Lauren McCaul. Most of the inveterate collector’s pieces have had other lives, in other places—people’s homes, country antique stores, even a San Antonio gas station—before they came to reside in McCaul’s 19th century Huntsville residence, The Public Inn. Already a seasoned collector at only 29, Lauren McCaul spends her days as a project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, where she and her team select furniture for the army’s medical command. It’s rewarding, necessary work. “I love the technical demands that have to be met, the codes, the ADA requirements. I love

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the research behind it,” acknowledges the Auburn University School of Architecture graduate. But it’s obvious with even a cursory glance around McCaul’s home that her love for interior composition includes more than the science of what, in her words, “keeps a building standing.” As important as the codes of building construction are, ultimately, “people in the building don’t care about the building’s construction,” says McCaul. “They care about the way the interior makes them feel. That’s what they notice.” McCaul notices those things, too, and it’s clear from even a cursory glance around her home that she takes her work home with her. “The Army isn’t paying me to pick out fabric, to do ‘fluff y’ decorating,” McCaul says. Those creative itches have to be scratched on evenings and weekends, which often find McCaul antiquing, thrift store shopping, and hunting Craigslist bargains, in search of the latest addition to the perpetual work-in-progress that is her home.

A FIRST CHANCE TO MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION Dolly Parton, that paragon of disarming honesty, once hilariously quipped regarding the expense of maintaining her signature haute-hillbilly look, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Above: The books on McCaul’s shelves tell a color story, too, adding an extra layer of character and dimension to an already vibrant space. Facing page, top: A painting from Huntsville’s Firehouse Antiques and Collectibles; red and white price markers from an old filling station in San Antonio; and a tufted, vintage sofa from Craigslist, contribute character-rich focal points to the living room. Facing page, bottom, left and right: Books, bowls, and baubles: even the smallest accessories are meaningful, reflecting their owner’s love of design and travel.

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Were the equally exuberant, but infinitely more restrained, Lauren McCaul in the market for an adage to describe her personal decorating style, it would surely be the exact inverse of Dolly’s. A style manifesto for this 29 year old curator of all things beautiful and unique might be a bit more along the lines of: “It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to look like a million bucks.” But McCaul isn’t in the market for adages. This intrepid collector finds labels entirely too confining. She is, however, in the market, and often, for the kind of unique, daring pieces that greet visitors the moment they step into her home. Standing in McCaul’s foyer a visitor might understandably assume that the perfectly arranged hodgepodge of art and maps on her staircase gallery represents days of painstaking planning and measurements. Not so. “I did the gallery wall on a Thursday night in two hours,” McCaul admits. “I was bored, and I hate a big blank wall.” For a perfectionist, those are marching orders. So, gathering the largest pieces first, and working around them, McCaul managed to strike just the right balance of whimsy and order—an apt introduction to a house that is anything but ordinary.


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“I constantly have the urge to get rid of stuff and update. The home is never where I want it to be.”

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The eclectic, colorful foyer provides a smooth transition into an equally fun and artfully composed living room. Heart of pine floors and the traditional fireplace ground the room, and provide a warm backdrop for the collector’s furnishings and accessories, all of which, like the Warhol print, are vibrantly present in this historic location. Providing a colorful foundation, the kilim rug is one of the most recent—and meaningful—additions to McCaul’s home. A gift from McCaul’s father, the rug was brought back from a Bedouin’s tent in Saudi Arabia by McCaul’s grandfather, himself an employee of the Corps of Engineers.

“I LOVE A GOOD TUFT.” The sofa’s tufts, along with its distinctive lines, inspired McCaul to grant the Craigslist find a central position in her living room. While McCaul admits the color could be “disastrous,” under the right circumstances it’s anything but. In fact, you just might mistake it for a far more expensive reproduction from the likes of retro specialist and designer Jonathan Adler. Not that you’d ever find an Adler—or any other A-list designer’s piece—in Lauren McCaul’s home. While the savvy shopper loves all things unique, she doesn’t love paying full price, and McCaul’s technical proficiency, combined with her intuitive knack for color, texture, and style, means she doesn’t have to. Among the other treasures in the room: old filling station gas price signs discovered during a trip to San Antonio and flown back to Alabama, triggering one of the more unusual airport security checks in McCaul’s travel history. The coffee table, like so many of the pieces in McCaul’s home, is repurposed. The noteworthy piece was discovered at Architectural Antiques in Cullman—but in true curatorial fashion, the piece wasn’t for sale as a coffee table. In fact, “it wasn’t even for sale,” McCaul admits. “They were using it to move the stuff that was for sale around.” It’s that eagle eye that allows McCaul to spot the unexpected touches that lend such authenticity to her home. “I have in my mind, at all times, a running list of things I’d like,” McCaul reveals. But she’s in no rush to find anything; McCaul is perfectly content until just the right piece presents itself. “If I need a dining room table, it might two years until I stumble on it.” Or, in the case of the designer’s own dining room table, buy it from a friend, who bought it at a yard sale. Then paint it, surround it with Thonet bentwood chairs from a Huntsville estate sale, add a few more tufts in the form of a host chair, and finally, anchor it all with a chest of drawers.

Facing page, clockwise from top left: A first-time visitor would never guess the riot of color waiting for them on the other side of The Public Inn’s austere black and white facade. As above, so below: a gallery wall (assembled in a mere two hours on a quiet Thursday night) hints at a second floor as fun and fanciful as the first. For world traveler McCaul, there’s no greater inspiration than travel, and no greater comfort than returning to her sweet Huntsville, Alabama, home. A floral theme unites these vintage pieces in the foyer. Above: Don’t hide your light under a bushel—or your vintage purses in a drawer.

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This page: “Chinese Chippendales are hard to find,” says McCaul of the white chairs flanking her dining room chest of drawers. “I found these at the 127 Corridor yard sale for $35.” Facing page, top left, and bottom right: A view from abroad: tabletop accessories hint at the wider world outside McCaul’s bedroom. Top left: Necessity is the mother of re-invention. McCaul commandeered the services of a china cabinet when her shoe collection outgrew its closet home. Bottom left: An architectural sketch of Auburn University’s chapel, hung with sewing pins inside an antique mirror over the bedside table, offers a serene reminder of McCaul’s alma mater.

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“I have in my mind, at all times, a running list of things I’d like,”

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Not that McCaul is opposed to the traditional; she is, however, constitutionally opposed to the cliché. Case-in-point: antique map prints above the bed aren’t secured by nails, but sewing pins. “They’re great!” McCaul insists. “The small holes are excellent for sheet rock.” Maps aren’t the only thing McCaul is hesitant to nail down. When asked to sum up her style in a single buzzword, she hesitates. “I don’t want to say eclectic—but it is,” she admits. The problem for a designer with such varied tastes, who works comfortably in a variety of genres, is that “buzz words,” like eclectic or transitional, ultimately have the effect of confining or limiting her scope. For a collector like McCaul, the notion of limitation is anathema. “My house is always in transition. I constantly have the urge to get rid of stuff and update. The home is never where I want it to be.”

For those in need of reassurance that a chest of drawers may indeed live in peace alongside traditional dining room furniture, McCaul is quick to provide it: “They’re so versatile!” the designer insists. And yes, the kitchen is a perfectly fine place to put one. So is the foyer, where McCaul’s once stored umbrellas, gloves, and keys. This particular piece has also served as a bar before it was stationed in McCaul’s dining room, where it stores the serving ware you need in a kitchen, just not every day. But the question then presents itself: if you put your kitchen serving pieces in a chest of drawers in the dining room, where will you put your shoes in the bedroom?

IN A CHINA CABINET, OBVIOUSLY. What most of us take for granted as necessarily belonging in a bedroom drawer or closet, Lauren McCaul sees as an opportunity to add more color and texture to what is usually a sleepy space. Thus, the china cabinet as shoe rack and a body form purchased at a going out of business sale in lieu of a jewelry case. Functional and lovely, both pieces demonstrate McCaul’s love for traditional pieces in nontraditional settings.

Potential clients would surely disagree. For the time being, though, McCaul’s residential interior design projects are confined to her own home and the homes of a few people closer to her. Her signature design style is the result of a time-intensive mixture of luck and serendipity, and the process of scouring antique shops and estate sales takes time and patience. Between the demands of her career and an entrepreneurial venture near and dear to her heart, a fullfledged residential interior design business isn’t in the cards quite yet. Maybe one day. For now, McCaul’s unique finds are available to the public at a series of one-off pop-up shops in the Huntsville area, under the banner of her small business, the Department of Agra Culture. Named for the Indian city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, the Department of Agra Culture features clothing, jewelry, accessories, and found objects—all the fruits of McCaul’s travels. Once a year, McCaul takes a week or two out of her busy schedule and goes treasure hunting—last year she went to India; this year, Guatemala. Once in-country, she establishes a relationship with local vendors, then returns with their wares to North Alabama, where she introduces them via a pop-up shop. If you’d like to be alerted to McCaul’s next pop-up shop, she invites you to visit her website, deptofagraculture.com, for news and updates. It’s an exceptional opportunity to do a bit of exploring and curating of your own and, in the process, incorporate into your home some of the unlikely elements that make McCaul’s so timeless.

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the vine » Amy C. Collins

SAUVIGNON AND SANCERRE It’s the season for sauvignon blanc. As soon as the weather started to warm in mid-March, for that short week of what is arguably our spring, I noticed an influx of sauvignon blancs in sales reps’ bags, on wine store shelves, and restaurant lists. The high acid, typically lean and aromatic whites are ideal quaffers in this weather, when the first 70 degree days feel hot after a long, cold winter. Nowhere is [the sauvignon blanc grape] as elegant and refined as the cool hillsides of Sancerre, where the flint and chalky soils produce delicate wines with gorgeous fruit and enticing acidity.

Sauvignon blanc is grown all over the world—California, New Zealand where the grape produces racy bold fruit bombs with cutting acidity, Italy, Israel, Australia, Chile, Spain, Slovenia, and elsewhere in France, specifically Bordeaux where the gravel-grown variety is often blended with sémillon to soften it. But nowhere is it as elegant and refined as the cool hillsides of Sancerre, where the flint and chalky soils produce delicate wines with gorgeous fruit and enticing acidity. The sauvignon blanc grape is, in itself, interesting. It is a parent to the cabernet sauvignon along with cabernet franc, likely a field crossing in Bordeaux two centuries ago. The grape has inherent herbaceous qualities sometimes expressed in aromas of gooseberry bushes and cat pee. I’ve never been around a gooseberry bush, but I also rarely find the cat urine to be a primary note, thankfully. It is a versatile grape that depends heavily on how and where it was raised, a perfect subject for the nature versus nurture argument. Some sav blancs even spend a little time in new oak barrels, which impart fat, toast, spice, and vanilla. Others threaten to take the enamel off your teeth with acidity that cuts like diamonds. What sets Sancerre apart from other sauvignon producers is, without question, the place. The village of Sancerre is in northern France in the Loire Valley, though it’s from neighboring villages Chavignol and Bué where most of the best wines of the region are produced. The whites are made from 100 percent sauvignon blanc and the reds and pinks from pinot noir, though It’s the white wines for which the region is most noted.

Eric Asmiov wrote, for the New York Times in his April 14, 2009 column, one of the most lovely descriptions of Sancerre wines I’ve ever read. “The soft sibilance, the internal alliteration, the smooth completion, whether you give it the clipped French pronunciation or simply ease off the word American-style—it’s a beautiful sound, suggestive of beautiful wines.” Indeed, the very best evoke a dream-like state of nirvana. Edmond Vatan, who retired after the 2007 vintage and whose daughter Anne now makes the wines, is one of the most sought after Sancerre


producers and the most difficult to find. Current vintages average $120 a bottle. If you have the opportunity and wallet, treat yourself to a bottle. More readily available, though also on the high end, are those of Pascal Cotat, who inherited his father’s vines and winemaking skills in the early 1990s. A bottle of Pascal’s Les Monts Damnés, one of the steepest and highly respected slopes in Sancerre, with chalky and Kimmeridgian clay soils—similar and quite close to Chablis on the map—will run around $60 on the shelf. You might not find one readily available, but they are in Alabama, so ask your favorite wine store to oblige you. Same goes for Domaine Vacheron, which is certified biodynamic with zero synthetics in the vineyard or the winery. Vacheron retails for just under $40 a bottle. In February I discovered one of my favorite yet, Alain Gueneau “Les Griottes,” which I selected for the March Vine Club, a subscription-based wine club in conjunction with Carriage on Court in downtown Florence. Planted in the “griottes,” stony limestone soils, these vines are over 25 years old and produce grapes more expressive of fruit than vegetable. The wine also spends some time on its lees, which adds body and flavor. It’s bright and crisp with citrus and white peach aromas, followed by lively acidity on the palate, lovely minerality reflecting the distinct soil types in the region and a long, satisfying finish. This is what sav blanc should be: delicate, elegant, and delicious. Domaine Gueneau retails for around $25 a bottle. Frank Millet, at $23 a bottle, is a solid second to the Gueneau, with fierce herbal notes, flint, mineral, and distinct acidity. White peach and almost-ripe stone fruits follow on the palate with a long, lustrous finish. Bailly-Reverdy makes excellent food-friendly Sancerre of every color. The white and rosé retail for about $26 a bottle and the red for a few dollars more. The domaine has been making Sancerre in Chavignol for generations and implements organic practices in the vineyards. The wines are consistently of good quality and great examples of the region’s best efforts. Enjoy the wines with food, as aperitifs, by the pool, by the lake or on the front porch. The very best producers will age for 10 years or so, though they are all ready to impress now. Cheers to warm weather!

Follow Amy at pigandvine.com for more stories and wine suggestions.

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As they all set forth to colleges and universities across the country, find out what they are taking with them and what the Randolph journey has meant to them.

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may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


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bless their hearts » LuEllen Redding Now in 36 places, there have certainly been some less than stellar neighbors. They can’t all be good. But the bad ones do teach you how to appreciate the good ones.

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? Do you know your neighbors? Neighbors…you know, the people that live in the houses next to you or behind you or across the street. I know mine. Some people don’t. I think that is weird. I can remember the neighbors that lived around me in the house we moved out of the summer I turned nine. I have always had the need to know about the people who occupy the space near me. Pure nosiness? Well, I’d much prefer to call it something more elegant like “concern for those around me” or “a need for community.” Whatever. Forty years ago, I lived in a little flat house in a little flat neighborhood in a little flat town. There was a ditch that ran between my house and Stephanie Puckett’s and it held an endless supply of tadpoles and mud. I bet some days we crossed that ditch 500 times. Her daddy owned the local five and dime. I thought that was very cool. A couple houses down was the family that owned a local jewelry store. They had one girl that was younger and played with my little sister and they also had teenagers. Really awesome teenagers. Teenagers with raspy voices and wild curly hair and motorcycles and places to be at all times of the day and night. The lady on the other side of them used to babysit me from time to time and she called me “LuEller,” not to be confused with Jimbo Taylor who lived behind us and called me “NewEller.” I guess “LuEllen” was a serious challenge to his speech impediment. Kathy and her older sister were in the house on the other side of us. Kathy was two years older than me and provided much insight on the ways of the world for soon-to-be third graders. The high school baseball coach and his beautiful wife lived a few houses down and had babies, a constant source of entertainment. My best friend, Mandy, lived around the corner. We spent hours playing Barbies and listening to John Denver. I hope she does not remember me cutting off her pigtail. It was just the one. Once, in my 20s, I lived in a neighborhood chock-full of families and children. As I planted flowers and raked leaves in the idyllic setting, I was constantly entertained with the whoops of their chasing and the bouncing of their balls and the hum of their bicycles. Once I even looked out to see one of the littlest boys, ummm, having a private, excretory moment behind a tree. Not a standing moment, but a squatting moment, if you get my drift. And what he considered to be “behind” his tree was actually in “front” of my kitchen window. I can’t remember ever laughing so hard. Ten years later, when it was my own boy, it wasn’t quite so funny. Fast forward a few years, my husband and I were newly married. Our first home was an adorable little duplex on a downtown street. A small, thin-walled, duplex. And did I say that we were newly married? I learned a lot about those neighbors. And they learned a lot about us. Bless them, they are still our friends. I still cringe when I think about those days. In the house where we live now, I have an old neighbor. Well, I did. He has recently moved away to live with his daughter. I guess it is a good transition for me. He is 94 years old. And he needs to be with his family, as I am sure they need to be with him. It is probably good for all of us. I worried that any other

 | noalastudios.com | may/june 


kind of transition would be too sudden for me. I miss him, but I think of him happy and with his days filled with grandchildren. But I do imagine he misses his leaf blower and his roses. He is the kind of neighbor that spends six hours blowing the leaves in his yard and then does my driveway “just because.” His hedges now have those little shoots coming out the tops like they need to be trimmed. That would never happen if he were home. He knows properly maintained hedges should be attended to weekly. He has lived in his house for 68 years. Sixty-eight years. Now I am 44 years old and recently did some calculating to determine that I have lived in 36 different places. Thirty-six, so far. My neighbor and I don’t have a lot in common. We don’t see eye-to-eye on lots of things. He is an elder in the nearby staunch Church of Christ. I am sure my Episcopal stickers give him the heebie-jeebies. He sweeps his Astroturf-covered front porch every day at 3:45 p.m. My front porch often looks like an episode of Hoarders is about to be filmed. I have never seen him un-ironed or un-tucked or un-combed. I often have scantily clad children roaming the front yard. But really, we do have one thing in common. He and I, we are good neighbors. We have a need to know about each other, our pasts and our day-to-day. Before we bought the house, when we were in the looking phase, I asked questions about him. In a small town, everyone has mutual acquaintances and I checked him out. I knew all kinds of things about him, before I even laid eyes on him. But that first time I did introduce myself, out in the yard, standing two feet deep in my own leaves, he said, “Oh, I know who you are. And I’ve asked around. I hear you are good people.” He was as worried about me as I was about him. I knew that very moment that we would be friends. And we are. Now in 36 places, there have certainly been some less than stellar neighbors. They can’t all be good. But the bad ones do teach you how to appreciate the good ones. I am sure that some folks consider neighbors to be the people who just happen to live in the house next to them. Not me. I think God put us in each others’ paths for a reason. Now that reason might be trivial or it might be big. It might be to teach me tolerance or to guilt me into cleaning up a bit or to force my kids to pick up our own dog poop. Or it might be so that we can become lifelong friends. I don’t know. My neighbor’s house will probably come up for sale soon. Do you want to be my neighbor?

may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


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food for thought » Sarah Gaede

There are lots of good recipes online for stuffed squash blossoms, and every yummy ricotta or goat cheese-filled treat is one less terror-inducing monster squash to be abandoned on your friend’s porch in the dark of night.

TAMING THE EVIL SQUASH MONSTER My maternal great-aunt, Hattie Eliza Daly, was a tobacco farmer in Kinston, North Carolina. She was also an artist who painted china, oils, and watercolors. Aunt Hattie believed she was skilled at both these pursuits because of the transference of knowledge, a theory she learned in her college studies. According to this theory, the same skill that inspired her to select the perfect colors for a painting enabled her to discern the exact color of a perfectly cured tobacco leaf. All the farmers in town begged her, “Miss Hattie, please teach us how to cure tobacco like you do!” Or so she said. My mother minored in botany, and loved growing and arranging flowers. I know the names of flowers and trees only because she called them out whenever we were together: Aucuba japonica! Abelia! Sassafras! Four-o’clocks! Tulip poplar! Beech! (My husband is not impressed when I do this to him.) My middle sister was a certified organic farmer before it was even a thing, and still gardens for rich people in the Shenandoah Valley. None of this horticultural knowledge was transferred to me. My one and only attempt at real gardening, in the actual ground rather than in pots, was a couple of summers ago when a bunch of us women friends had the opportunity to do a community garden. We were all gung-ho in May, under the expert tutelage of Meagan, our very pregnant overseer. It was actually fun to plant seeds and pull weeds and hang out together. But then it got hot, and Meagan had her baby, and things fell apart. It was a hotter, dryer summer than usual, and we were supposed to take turns watering, weeding, and repelling bugs naturally. I tried to do my part. I really did. But I hate to sweat, I don’t like bugs, and I am a mosquito magnet, so there was a lot of whining involved. Yes, it was satisfying to eat our own freshly picked lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, and of course, massive amounts of zucchini and yellow squash. We got a few green beans, and some tomatoes. Then the plant-eating bugs proliferated, and we all went back to the farmers’ market on Chisholm Road, where, in the bug-free cool of early morning, we could just buy whatever and as much as we needed, and help the local economy in the process. I do know this much about gardening: you can never have too many tomatoes. If you can’t use them all, someone else—me, for example— will be happy to take them. On the other hand, almost everyone plants way too much squash. Young squash are tender, tasty, and a manageable size. A zucchini the size of a torpedo is not. You can nip this problem in the bud—literally. There are lots of good recipes online for stuffed squash blossoms, and every yummy ricotta or goat cheese-filled treat is one less terror-inducing monster squash to be abandoned on your friend’s porch in the dark of night. Should you overplant, you can make zucchini bread, muffins, and quiche. You can put grated zucchini in spaghetti sauce. Or you can go rogue and make a zucchini chocolate cake. I promise this is one of the yummiest cakes ever, and it’s fool proof as long as you prepare the Bundt pan adequately. Steve Carpen-


ter of Jack-o-Lantern Farms loves it so much I made him one for Christmas. The Chocolate Glaze is just gilding the lily, but why not? There may be such a thing as too much zucchini, but there is no such thing as too much chocolate.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Shiny Chocolate Glaze • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan if needed • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark) • 1 teaspoon baking soda • 1/4 teaspoon salt • 1 teaspoon cinnamon • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar • 2 large eggs, at room temperature • 1/2 cup canola oil • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1/2 cup brewed, cooled espresso or strong coffee • 2 cups peeled, grated zucchini (2 medium) • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray the heck out of a Bundt pan with PAM Happy Baking Spray or Baker’s Joy, or spray with regular PAM and flour carefully so as not to miss any spots; shake out excess flour. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of stand mixer. Beat on low to combine, then on medium speed until fluffy and sugar is well-incorporated. Scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs one at a time, then the oil and vanilla extract; beat on medium speed until well-blended and smooth. With the mixer on low, scraping after each addition, alternate adding the following ingredients: 1 cup flour mixture, then 1/4 cup coffee; 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup coffee; then the remaining flour. Beat on medium until smooth. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips and beat on lowest speed until just incorporated. Scrape batter into pan; smooth surface. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on a cooling rack. Wait until cake is completely cool before glazing. Or you can just dust it with confectioner’s sugar if you are a minimalist.

Chocolate Glaze • • • • •

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 1/4 cup whipping cream 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat. Add cocoa powder and cream and stir just until mixture thickens. Do not boil. Remove pan from heat and stir in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until smooth. Immediately spoon glaze over the cooled cake.

may/june  | noalastudios.com | 


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parting shot » Patrick Hood

WHEN WE WALKED IN FIELDS OF GOLD


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Lauren McCaul · Pets at Work · Five Distinctive Valley Homes · Shopping: Sleep Tight—The Well-Made Bed, and more!

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