After a couple of recent projects I have found myself in the South much more frequently. My last post was about a visit to Charleston SC where I fell in love with the beautiful downtown area and the amazing variety of food. This most recent project which was brought to us from an old contact of mine in the world of interior lighting design. Specifically they provide church lighting design in both new and old churches. They also do home projects involving AV, audio, and automation.
One of their clients was looking for someone to come in and do a complete remodel of a historic home in Mountain Brook which is a well-to-do suburb of Birmingham. If you’re not familiar, like me, then you would be shocked at how beautiful this collection of Old South homes that sprawl across the hills and valleys just south of the downtown area truly is.
It’s also going through quite a dramatic change. Many of the homes were built 50+ years ago. So there are a great many renovations going on as people update some of these older homes. Some are tearing down and building from the ground up while others are choosing to preserve the look of the old home’s exterior and upgrading the interiors.
New Mixed with Old
The particular project we were called in on is one of the latter. The homeowner wanted to maintain the traditional look of the home while updating all of the interior rooms and even changing the space itself somewhat dramatically. The front of the house is Plantation style but it is set into a hill with a beautiful creek rolling through the front yard.
The idea was to not change too much of the front of the house, but to open the back of the house up to allow more light and a more usable outdoor space. We ended up creating a beautiful transition in the back of the house that allows the space to flow from the informal living room directly out onto the back patio.
A Beautiful Summer Kitchen
This particular homeowner loves spending time outdoors during the spring, summer, and fall months. One of their requirements was a highly functional outdoor kitchen space from where they could watch the kids around the pool while cooking and eating.
One of the challenges on this project was that the because the house was set into a massive hill, we had to do quite a bit of excavation to get any backyard at all. And if you know anything about this area of Birmingham you know that the ground can often be solid rock. Either that or clay that is rich in iron.
This meant that we actually had to do a bit of blasting in the backyard to clear enough space to accomplish their goals. I have to admit that this was the first time I’ve been involved in a residential product that required the use of dynamite. Kind of impressive, although I don’t think the neighbors liked it at all.
An Amazing Outdoor Space
After it was all said and done though, this project ended up being one of my favorites because of the outdoor space we created. The pool actually resembles the pool from the Holland project that I mentioned a while back. Simple but elegant.
And the kitchen itself is usable 75% of the year even in a light rain. We incorporated a covered area for the sensitive equipment and an open-air barbecue area.
The client was thrilled. We’ve even been invited back down for a huge outdoor party they’re throwing this spring. We’re looking forward to it.