Birmingham is steeped in tradition. From our grandmother’s pound cake recipe to yes-ma’am-no-sir manners, we preserve the good from the past. Maybe that’s why so many of us, including these homeowners, look to the Old Country for a favorite house style.
Recognizing that “a baby grand can be intimidating,” Jenny Edwards softened the colors and the lines of the living room furnishings to cushion the formality without diminishing the sense of a set-apart space. Ryan Pugh, 4, isn’t intimidated by the instrument, which boasts a player feature to provide a musical background for parties. Above it all is an antique clear-and-amethyst-crystal chandelier. Such antique light fixtures were used throughout the house to imbue the nearly new house with traditional elegance.
Whether it’s a cozy, thatched-roof cottage or the Edwardian splendor of Downton Abbey, interiors with an English accent remain popular more than two centuries after throwing off British rule.
When Catherine and Mark Pugh and their three children returned to Birmingham after seven years in Atlanta, they chose an established neighborhood of traditional, English-influenced homes. But their home was a newer one for the neighborhood, so Catherine set out to “traditionalize” the 4-year-old house in keeping with its surrounding structures and her preference for English style.
While the Pughs have an overall remodeling plan to be implemented in the coming years, the conversion of a closet into an office is the only construction that went into the initial transformation of the interior. The rest was done with paint, fabric and furnishings, and the help of Jenny Edwards of
J. Edwards Interiors.
LEFT: The breakfast area mixes styles to create a comfortable, visually amusing area appropriate for casual meals. “You have the gamut of traditional and updated and fun here,” Jenny says. A display of transferware sets an English- cottage tone, with echoes found in the ikat pillows and the curves of the banquette. No-nonsense Windsor chairs are joined by playful, washed-finish stools covered in beige-and-blue-striped fabric. The striking iron chandelier was custom-made to complement the length of the English table. RIGHT: To introduce the home’s English style, Jenny used vintage botanical prints in the entry. The stone-topped iron piece keeps the space from feeling overly dressy.
The house originally felt dark to the new owners. The Pughs’ previous home featured more dramatic reds and golds, and Catherine was ready to lighten things up. “She wanted to keep it quiet and calming,” says Jenny. “So we carried the soft colors throughout. It works to maintain the flow.”
The living room exudes an air of confidence and formality — just enough to mark it as a special, guest-ready area without being stultifying. A baby grand piano creates the focal point of the space. To balance the heft and black lacquer glossiness of the instrument, Jenny used natural fabrics with the lightest infusion of color, as found in the linen floral pillows, “to help make it not so serious.” Elements such as a cloverleaf ottoman covered in soft-hued silk also offset the assertiveness of the piano.
The family room emphasizes comfort while retaining a hint of formality. The room’s connection to the outdoors—French doors lead to a bluestone patio and pool surround—is reflected in the use of greens and blues, as well as in the bird-motif fabric on the armchairs. A leather chair and ottoman were selected “to make the room not so frilly,” Jenny says. The unexpected elements of a zinc side table and an antique gate fashioned into a glass-topped coffee table lighten the mood. An antique Tabriz rug pulls it all together.
Other rooms exhibit variations on the stately-homes-of-England theme, from a formal-feeling powder room to an unselfconsciously elegant dining room. The mode is established with various antiques, such as a classic Chippendale chair in the living room and the Tabriz rug in the family room, mixed with complementary new pieces.
The occasional unexpected element, such as an abstract painting, keeps the space from feeling overdone. “I have conservative, traditional taste,” says Catherine. “Jenny pushed me to have some cooler things, to throw in some ‘funky’ here and there.”
All the elements add up to the across-the-pond effect that the Pughs sought. “The inside has a real English feel,” Catherine says. “I love it.”
LEFT: This teen’s bedroom is a confection of blue and white. Jenny worked with 15-year-old Ashleigh Pugh to create a fresh, crisp environment that introduces a contemporary edge. RIGHT: The master bedroom’s custom-made barley-twist bed is dressed in floral linen with a skirt of mini-check fabric that is also used for the drapes. An antique Oushak rug offers luxe padding underfoot.
MEET JENNY EDWARDS
According to Chinese philosopher Confucius, if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Jenny Edwards followed that advice, turning an interest in the decorative arts into J. Edwards Interiors, a business devoted to beautiful and functional homes. Early on, she learned the joy of putting together furnishings and fabrics, colors and collectibles, to create a room that satisfies the senses. “I have always had a love for pretty things,” Jenny says. “I grew up around it because my mother helped people with interiors.”
Launching her business in 1998, Jenny focuses on finding, creating and arranging “pretty things” in a multiplicity of styles — traditional, transitional, and modern — to help homeowners achieve the surroundings that make them happy. “The goal of our business is to give the homeowners what they desire,” Jenny says. “We try to make it beautiful and comfortable within their vision. We use our abilities to bring together the homeowner’s ideas.”
interior design: Jenny Edwards, J. Edwards Interiors, LLC 2839 Culver Road, Suite 203 • 205.870.5100 living room: chandelier: King’s House Antiques 2807 2nd Avenue South • 205.320.2535 mercury lamp: Tricia’s Treasures 2700 19th Place South • 205.871.9779 family room: Tabriz rug: Paige Albright Orientals 2814 Petticoat Lane • 205.877.3232 coffee table: Henhouse Antiques 1900 Cahaba Road • 205.918.0505 breakfast room: transferware: Mulberry Heights 2419 Canterbury Road • 205.870.1300 table: The Nest Antiques 2718 19th Place South • 205.870.1264 powder room: chest: Circa Antiques 2831 Culver Road • 205.868.9199 entry hall: candlestick lamps: Village Firefly 2816 Culver Road • 205.870.4560