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Natural Instincts

Interior designer Melanie Pounds finds inspiration in one family’s devotion to nature.

You will find no television in this family den, just a cozy space which often serves as a showcase for the kids’ outdoor findings, such as the birds’ nests on the mantel.

You will find no television in this family den, just a cozy space which often serves as a showcase for the kids’ outdoor findings, such as the birds’ nests on the mantel.

On a corner lot in Cherokee Bend sits an unassuming brick home. Though it is charming enough outwardly, there is nothing distinctive about it, nothing that would stop you in your tracks—until you are invited inside.

When designer Melanie Pounds took on this home, she knew she was in for a delightful challenge. Though the homeowners wanted an elegant interior, they also wanted their outdoor adventures and hobbies woven into the whole scheme. They desired a house that was relaxed and cozy; a place where the children could bring in little gems found in the backyard and display them comfortably next to designer pieces without the new additions seeming out of place. Similarly, they wanted total authenticity in the interior design and asked that Melanie stick to real wood, metals, and fur, as well as organic fabrics of 100% wool or cotton. Melanie took these requests and created a truly unique fine-meets-found dichotomy throughout the entire home.

Designer pieces, such as this marble-topped chest anchoring the stairwell, coexist peacefully with the more natural elements of the interiors.

The soul of this home seems to be the cozy den with its large fireplace and built-in bookshelves. A tapered wooden ladder gives aid to the top shelves where thick books inhabit the crannies. The bottom shelves are earmarked for wooden toys and children’s books. On top of the mantel are a collection of discovered birds’ nests and a silver cup full of delicate feathers. A sofa faces twin winged-backed chairs, creating the foundation of the space. A gray ottoman—perfect as a coffee table or an extra seat—links the furniture pieces together for a cozy seating area. On the wall, Melanie has gathered the family’s art collection into one display, and while the art is done in a variety of styles, she has brought uniformity to the bunch by selecting gold frames for each piece.

Beside the den is a small dining area where the patina of a chalkboard wall stands in striking contrast to the gleaming brass chandelier. The light fixture’s rectangular shape is reflected in the high-back bench which accompanies the rustic farm table. Three stools, made from stone to look like reclaimed stumps, sit squarely in front. By placing these unique stools in full view, Melanie keeps the room controlled, allowing the eye to move from stool to table to bench and then to the beautiful contrast of chalkboard and brass. 

And still another cleverly designed room is the master bedroom. With a wall of windows that brings in natural light, an almost all-white color palette, and an eye-catching light fixture that resembles a cloud, the room physically feels heavenly. “The homeowner wanted the focus to be on the view of the garden,” explains Melanie, “so I knew I had to go with white. Nothing in here needed to take away from what was going on out there.” Perhaps the intention was to keep the bedroom low-key, but it’s hard not to be wowed by Melanie’s influence on the space.

Additionally, the elegant dining room with its twin chandeliers and screened cabinets is a grownup’s version of the rich and rustic harmony of the home. Traditional Queen Anne chairs, painted with gold accents and re-covered in Edelman hide, surround a simple table that sits atop two metal sawhorses. Interestingly, the chandeliers are items that Melanie has worked with twice. Though such a gorgeous duo is rarely found together, Melanie made the discovery and used the fixtures with a previous client who then sold the pair back to her during a move. She knew the light fixtures would be perfect for this family’s design plan and had them reinstalled in the home.

In the end, Melanie struck that perfect cord between rusticity and elegance in a tailormade space that speaks to this family’s interests and lifestyle.

  

ABOVE LEFT The family’s devotion to the outdoors and to hobbies such as bee-keeping informed Melanie’s design direction, as seen in the vintage bee print and antique beehive stumps.

ABOVE RIGHT Snow’s Bend Farm is a local, organic farm that prides itself on producing wholesome food for the community. To sign up for freshly grown produce delivered to your door, visit their website: snowsbendfarm.com. You can also enjoy Snow’s Bend’s harvest at Red Cat Coffee House, Continental Bakery, and Classic Wine Company.
 

ABOVE A pair of statement chandeliers adds a touch of sophistication to an otherwise low-key dining room.
 

  

ABOVE LEFT A found tortoise shell keeps the more formal arrangement of roses and sterling silver pieces from being too stuffy in this family room vignette.

ABOVE RIGHT Soft and serene surroundings in shades of white keep the master bedroom elegantly understated with the focus on outside views.
 

  

RESOURCES

Interior Designer: Melanie Pounds, Mountain Brook Interiors • 236 Country Club Park, Birmingham, Alabama • 205.907.7002, info@mountainbrookinteriors.com
Den: Wooden Ladder: Circa Interiors • Mt. Brook, Ala. • 205.868.9199 • circainteriors.com; Armchairs: Verellen through Mountain Brook Interiors; Sofa: Baker through Mountain Brook Interiors; Ottoman: Ochre through Mountain Brook Interiors 
Breakfast Nook: Light fixture: Visual Comfort through Mountain Brook Interiors; Bench and Stone Stools: Club Cu through Mountain Brook Interiors 
Home Office: Gray Doors: Circa Interiors; Chairs: Restoration Hardware, Birmingham, Ala. 205.967.1901 • restorationhardware.com
Master Bedroom: Light Fixture: Apparatus through Mountain Brook Interiors; Linens: Restoration Hardware and Mountain Brook Interiors; Chaise: Circa Interiors; Window Treatments: Custom through Mountain Brook Interiors; Rugs: Land of Nod • landofnod.com; Mirror: West Elm, Birmingham, Ala. • 205.968.7651 • westelm.com; Art: Maralyn Wilson 
Dining Room: Chandeliers: Ad Antiquities through Mountain Brook Interiors; Table: Circa Interiors; Chairs: Adams Antiques through Mountain Brook Interiors; Window Treatments: Custom through Mountain Brook Interiors

Clockwise: Laurie Grantham (standing) Amy Belt and Melanie Pounds.

Introducing Mountain Brook Interiors

For a long time, Melanie Pounds was a one-woman show, balancing both design side and business side. Recently, however, she combined forces with Laurie Grantham and Amy Belt to create Mountain Brook Interiors, a new design gallery in Crestline Village.

“As a female, you’re taught your whole life that you can have children and you can also have a career you love,” Melanie explains. “And once you have it all, you realize this is a lot of stuff! Then God gives you these wonderful people to help you and make it fun again, who understand what it means to be a mother and who understand what it means to work.”

So how did these three meet? Laurie and Amy have been neighbors for years. So close, Amy says, that they helped raise each other’s children. Amy was also Melanie’s client, and when Laurie confided to Amy that she wanted to start an interior design company, Amy insisted the three of them team up.

The women have created a shop with a fresh design look for a variety of budgets. And while some galleries offer a distinct look, Melanie says their shop is an ever-changing space so customers will find fresh inspiration every time they come in. “There are people who want what everyone else has, but we’re hoping to give our clients something that is different at any price point,” Melanie says. “We’re going to show that we can do wood and iron but then we can also do really soft French pieces.”

Visit the shop at 236 Country Club Park, right next door to Snoozy’s Kids. 

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