Interior designer Ware Porter takes a page from favorite vacation spots to transform a classic Colonial into a color-filled, engaging home with never a dull moment.
ABOVE The living room shows off its mix of comfortable upholstery, fine antiques, and surprise accents like the striking photo over the mantel by Birmingham photographer David Hillegas.
Ware Porter believes in happy rooms. He decorates with a sense that the serious should be paired with the whimsical and that stuffy is most definitely passé. In his former Forest Park Colonial, that message speaks in spades while also giving a nod to some of Ware’s favorite vacation locations in the U.S. and abroad.
“I had a vision of a Hamptons cottage in the middle of Forest Park. I was doing a project up there at the time, so I was inspired by that Americana feel. I wanted red, white, and blue,” explains Ware. “But I was also working with clients on the Amalfi Coast, so the saturated blues of the Mediterranean were an influence as well.”
Ware’s deft handling of color sings throughout the interiors, beginning with the foyer. Vintage black Baker chairs and a large-scale lantern offer a casual introduction to the home. A zebra rug takes center stage, adding an exotic touch.
In the living room, rich cobalt-velvet club chairs cozy up to a traditional pleated pouf. Ware likes taking something classic and shaking it up a little with fabrics and finishes. In the same vein, the designer scattered leopard- and Ikat-print pillows on the more traditional muted turquoise sofa.
The Hamptons vibe spills into the master bedroom, which is anything but quiet. A vivid blue—Benjamin Moore’s ‘Americana’—wraps the room, and the same bold hue extends to the pillow fabric and throw. The shade is a perfect backdrop for the red-and-white upholstered headboard and bedskirt in a distinctive Peter Dunham print.
Although the home contains some impressive 17th- and 18th-century antiques, the rooms remain welcoming and, quite frankly, fun. In fact, friends enjoyed Ware’s home so much that they dubbed it the “clubhouse”—a place where every guest felt like a member. “I love to entertain. I wanted my home to be where everyone felt comfortable enough to dance on the furniture if they desired,” Ware says.
The dining room, where Ware held numerous dinner parties, is the one space that takes a more understated approach to color. “I want the personality of my guests to be the center of attention, not the décor,” he says. An 18th-century console with blue undertones is topped with a gold mirror and surrounded by antique Haviland china. Subtle contrast is seen in the palm tree mural, painted in a tone-on-tone color against gray walls and inspired by Lyford Cay in the Bahamas—another of Ware’s favorite destinations. It’s just one more example of a happy place in this decidedly happy home.
ABOVE LEFT The foyer gets maximum use because it doubles as an additional dining space during large dinner parties. “Four guests can sit at the round tilt-top table, and its adjacency to the dining room makes it a natural area for expanding the entertaining space,” says Ware. Wall décor, including the hurricane sconces by John Rosselli, is kept minimal to allow the dramatic zebra rug to serve as a focal point. Arched openings connect the spaces to each other and the living room.
ABOVE RIGHT The bedroom’s red, white, and blue palette brings in the Americana style of the Hamptons with a nod to Morocco in the bed design and fabric. Wall color: Benjamin Moore ‘Americana’
ABOVE The living room’s blues and whites flow throughout, accented with touches of yellow and lively patterned prints. Ware balances classic items like the étagère and oil paintings with edgier pieces such as the contemporary coffee table, hand-painted by Birmingham artist Jan Roberts. “I don’t think rooms should be too serious,” says Ware. “I’m not a stuffy person and need some aspect of whimsy in my rooms.”
ABOVE Dressed in neutral shades, the dining room has plenty of engaging twists with the painted palm tree mural, 18th-century mirror, and ornate console table, as well as the large-scale brass chandelier.
Interior designer: Ware Porter, Ware & Co. • 2718 Cahaba Rd. 205.874.9800 waremporter.com Foyer: zebra rug: Paige Albright Orientals • 205.877.3232 paigealbrightorientals.com Dining room: palm tree mural: Jan Roberts • 205.902.3644; Living room: ginger jars: Ware & Co.