House & Garden
A thoughtful renovation—both inside and out—turned a tired mid-century home into a modern masterpiece.
ABOVE Nature takes center stage in the family room as sweeping views seamlessly blend inside and outside spaces together.
When interior designer Beth Dillard first laid eyes on this mid-century modern home in Mountain Brook, it was quite evident that its original look was lost and the décor was anything but modern. It also lacked any continuity—the style, flooring, and fixtures changed from room to room. “I couldn’t get a feel for what the décor was supposed to be at all,” she explains. “The home had beautiful bones to work with. We just had to figure out how to make it flow.”
Beth’s mission was to update the late 1960s/early 1970s abode while staying true to its roots. To start, she focused on the basics and brought consistency to the entire home with simple but strategic changes. Embracing the existing heavy wooden beams, Beth lightened up the walls of the lofty spaces with a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. (Trim is Benjamin Moore Super White.) She changed all of the hardware and updated bathrooms with new tile and fixtures.
In each room, the designer played to modernism with a singular thread of color that ranges in tones and shades from eggplant to merlot. In the formal living space, a bold purple sofa grounds the room while a touch of lilac fills the back wall of the bookcase. The purple hues spill over to the family room as accents in the patterned upholstery and velvet aubergine pillows. In both places, Beth leaned towards standout pieces with interesting lines such as the Verellen sectional sofa, oval coffee table, twiggy floor lamps, and linen club chairs. Here, and throughout the house, she contrasted white walls and upholstery with black finishes and pattern.
Bedrooms showcase custom upholstered headboards and purposeful furnishings. In these private spaces, Beth put the focus on contrast with strong punches of one color such as the mustard yellow against almost-black walls. “Black is always great to bring into a space because it gives a room depth,” she explains. “It can also span across any design.”
ABOVE LEFT Original paneled wood walls in the kitchen’s dining area were painted white to refresh the space. A niche holds a built-in console—perfect for serving or display. Beth shopped her client’s existing collection for the interior furnishings. The breakfast table originally sat in the living room. Two white leather office chairs, redressed with nailhead trim, became head chairs. A new industrial chandelier completes the modern look.
ABOVE RIGHT The dining room furnishings are important family heirlooms, so Beth found a way to modernize the room while adding interest and contrast. Chairs, originally whitewashed, now sport a black finish with reupholstered white leather seats. Gray and cream floral-patterned wallpaper from Osborne & Little lends a softness to the room’s hard edges.
ABOVE To create a dramatic mood, Beth painted the bedroom Sherwin Williams 6005 Folkstone and accented the dark hue with sunny yellow on the headboard, chair, and artwork. Organic textures such as the sheepskin rug and rattan basket add softness.
ABOVE LEFT In a guest bedroom, a pop of pattern and color in the pillows and upholstered headboard creates just the right amount of contrast against the otherwise serene, all-white surroundings.
ABOVE RIGHT A custom steel bookshelf showcases clean lines and a variety of personal items including artwork, photos, books, and accessories. Beth continued the modern theme with the bubble chandelier.
Get to Know Beth Dillard
Beth Dillard focuses on creating ethic-chic interior environments, a design style she fell in love with through years of traveling to the south of France. “My inspiration also comes from the simplicity of nature,” says the Rosemary Beach, Florida-based designer. “Nature is the best example of great design. Its beauty is in its imperfections, scents, and texture.” In addition, Beth feels a home should be multi-sensual with visual refinement and texture in fabrics, rugs, and furniture. She works closely with clients to make sure this ambience fits perfectly into their specific house plan and lifestyle. “For me, it’s essential that the finished design is a beautiful family home, but it really goes beyond just that,” she says. “The design should be the reflection of the personalities that inhabit the home.”
The beauty of the home extends well beyond its interior charm. With numerous floor-to-ceiling windows that highlight the exterior views, the homeowners also wanted an updated outdoor retreat to complement the home’s textural modern architecture. For that, they looked no further than landscape designer Rob Garrard.
Rob designed a plan to create a sense of order that would blur into the surrounding natural environment. In the backyard, he utilized clean lines with a series of geometric concrete cubes. Closest to the house, he placed the cubes on an axis with the front walk, keeping the living room views of the front and back yards balanced. The cubes are anchored by a series of squared boxwoods. “The cubes draw you down the pathway and soften up as you get closer to nature,” Rob explains. “So we start with concrete, relating the texture to the home, and then change to flora.”
In addition to creating this progression from man-made materials to shrubs, Rob also changed up the textures. The concrete cubes sit on a base of coarsely textured Mexican beach pebbles that create a contrast to the more delicate clipped boxwoods. He also transitioned the plants from small to large as they move away from the house, starting with varieties such as Asiatic Jasmine and continuing to hydrangeas and then taller trees like the Hawthorn Winter Kings. “All of the elements and textures create interest. There is no singularity to it,” Rob explains. “Your eye can pick up on the textures, colors, and layers much better than if all of the elements were similar. You really want that separation of all of the components.”
Get to know Rob Garrard
Landscape designer Rob Garrard has been changing the gardens of Birmingham homeowners for almost 30 years. Rob enjoys working with clients to select plants that have unique branching, texture, and color to make a statement. “I love renovation projects where a client wants to add new life to a dated landscape while incorporating as much existing plant material as possible to create new garden rooms,” he says.
Rob blends classic, traditional style with modern influences of geometry, pattern, and texture. He uses his background in landscape architecture to pay special attention to each individual site, ensuring that the resulting landscape is not only beautiful but also fits its surroundings. “An effective landscape should meld the architecture with the surrounding environment, creating spaces that serve the client’s uses and needs,” Rob says.
Landscape designer: Rob Garrard Landscape Design • 5412 11th Avenue South, Birmingham. 205.541.0408, email@example.com • robgarrard.com Outdoor furniture: Summer Classics • 3140 Pelham Parkway, #600, Pelham. 205.358.9200