On the Flip Side
A traditional home takes on a role reversal to reveal sweeping views, and an open floorplan filled with color, art, and a connection to nature.
A library took the place of the former stairwell. His and her bookcases face each other. A classic sofa, now upholstered in deep lavender, was inherited from the owner’s grandmother.
Situated on a wooded Mountain Brook lot is a house that the owner calls an ongoing, living art piece. It exists in a state of flux as subtle, constant changes add to its appeal. “I’m always bringing in things from the outside,” says the owner, who has a special affinity for trees, birds, and art— thanks to the influence of her mother and paternal grandmother on her own family tree.
The homeowners worked with interior designer Lauren Conner and builder David Camp of Camp Construction Company to transition a dressy, brick traditional into a casual residence with an inviting feel.
Friends since high school, Lauren and the owner knew each other well, which facilitated the best possible working relationship. “She’s vivacious and she wants things done right,” Lauren says of her friend. “We worked well together.”
With open spaces and views, sans window treatments, the remodeled space expresses the owner’s love of contrasts, as seen in the stainless tabletop with its rustic wood base. Rough-hewn wood details complement sleek furniture pieces for classic style with modern flair.
David Camp was recruited to remodel the kitchen and den. Seeing that the home’s front faced away from the view and that the location of the driveway made entry awkward, David began to contemplate an about-face.
“Soon after I started the design work, I broke the ice with the idea of reversing the house,” he says. “The first thing I did was show them a sketch that would bring the driveway around the house for guests to enter from the front corridor.”
LEFT A leftover holiday display remains over the stove. “At Christmas, Sybil hung ornaments from the driftwood. I liked it so much, I left it,” the owner says. RIGHT Doors open onto the home’s addition—a screened porch.
Keeping the original footprint almost intact, David drew up the plans that reversed the house. “One of the most important elements of making a beautiful home is finding a way to make it connect to the setting, and this house has a beautiful setting,” he explains. “The screened porch we added makes a connection on one side. The other side has an expansive view.”
The design team included (from left) floral designer Sybil Sylvester, builder David Camp, and designer Lauren Conner.
A burlap swing, hung on the entry-level front porch, makes a natural transition from the foyer to the landscape. The swing was the first piece the owner bought with a “tree house” home redesign in mind. Its neutral tones are enhanced with bright pops of purple and aqua.
In the renovated kitchen and den area, pale walls create a neutral backdrop, showcasing rustic, exposed beams and dark wood window and door trim. The contrast creates a light, open feeling.
The stainless-top kitchen table has a rustic wood base, a hardy piece in keeping with the re-styled area. With two sons, the owners appreciate such resilient materials—from floors to furnishings.
“They wanted furniture that was durable,” Lauren says, a factor that prompted the inclusion of chenille, slate-colored armchairs in the family room. “We used a neutral palette with a punch of color—turquoise and citron—and some fun artwork.”
It wasn’t just the home that had a role reversal from formal to casual. Many of the furnishings found a new purpose as well.
In the dining room, a sunburst medallion is an accent indicative of the owner’s bright personality.
“She used everything from her old house,” Lauren says of the homeowner. “She took a Chippendale bench and recovered it to make it a little edgier. She has classic things, but they have been updated.”
A sofa from the owner’s maternal grandmother, circa 1940s, was given new zest with deep lavender upholstery. Placed in the library, the piece is accompanied by two chairs with geometric prints on the same purple background. A portrait of her grandmother looks on, proudly.
In the dove gray dining room, a seagrass rug, one of the few floor coverings in the house, sits beneath a traditional table and chairs. A casual iron-and-wood light fixture replaced a heavy, crystal chandelier to create a more understated atmosphere.
At Lauren’s suggestion, the kitchen showcases a high-end sleekness through the use of marble tile on the entire back wall. “Lauren was great at pushing me into that,” the owner says. “I looked at other materials, and I thought about painting it. But if you look beyond the wall into the yard outside, it’s a sleek interpretation of all of the rock ledges behind it.”
David and Lauren made the perfect team to meet the owner’s objective of blending modern styles with old designs and “rough edges,” including exposed beams inside and geologic formations outside. “I like a little bit of everything,” the owner explains. “We’re emotionally attached to family furniture but are drawn to modern pieces as well.”
The end result is a home that gives a nod to family tradition while maintaining a contemporary look. “This was a beautiful house when we bought it. It was just more formal than we are,” says the owner. “We wanted to open it up. We have always called it our big tree house with windows, and now we have made that even more true.”
builder: David Camp 205.879.9830 interior design: Lauren Conner 205.223.1573 floral design: Sybil Sylvester 205.322.1311 select art: Studio By The Tracks 205.951.3317 lamps: Village Firefly 205.870.4560 traditional furnishings: Cresent Furniture 615.452.1671 sunburst mirror: Three Sheets 205.871.2337 modern pieces: Richard Tubb Interiors 205.324.7613 At Home 205.879.3510 Circa Interiors and Antiques 205.868.9199 Chickadee 205.969.3138 purple sofa upholstery: Andrea Carmichael Inc. andreacarmichaelinc.com