There is something so inviting about a cozy cottage with the perfect amount of space for you and yours. And Birmingham’s quaint little historic homes are seeing renewed life as house-flippers and adventurous homeowners alike put a little elbow grease into updating and beautifying these gems. From Homewood to Crestwood North, these historic cottages have been revitalized in style. Let’s take a look at three gorgeous Birmingham cottages.
An Artist’s Cottage
Originally built in the 1950s and remodeled by Willow Homes + Willow Design Studios in 2017, this cottage is nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac in the charming, sidewalk-lined streets of Homewood. “Our favorite thing about this home is the true transformation we watched it go through,” says Katherine Bailey, an interior designer with Willow Design Studios. “It went from being seriously dated and not functional to a beautiful, open layout that is stunning from floor to ceiling.”
The serene white interiors are bathed in natural light with delightful pops of gilded hardware and a distinguished navy hue anchoring the design scheme. It’s a breath of fresh air with a subtle art-forward vibe. Katherine tells us, “This client is Susan Gordon, of Susan Gordon Pottery, so she has a creative mind herself. It was a lot of fun to mix creativity with both Susan and our design team to create a showroom-worthy interior!”
Her pottery is elegantly displayed on open shelving in the kitchen, where a light and airy feel permeates the design. However, the rooms made for rest and relaxation — namely the reading room and master bedroom — are painted a nearly black shade of blue that seems to envelop you, beckoning you into the pages of a book or a deep slumber. And Katherine agrees. “Our favorite room is the room with all of the bookshelves. We have nicknamed it ‘the gossip den.’ The dark, bold paint color contrasts the white built-in shelving,” she says. “Walking into that room makes you want to grab a book off the shelf and curl up on the cozy couch.”
Whether you’re gathered in the light-filled open living spaces with family and friends or curled up into the warm corners to rejuvenate, each space of this stylish cottage exudes elegance and comfort.
Lauren Brown is not your average girl. Growing up, her idea of fun was working on houses and woodworking with her father and grandfather. She got her masters in historic preservation, and recently the Twin Construction interior designer merged all of her passions to flip houses. On a hill right along the edge of Woodlawn, this 99-year-old Crestwood North cottage is Lauren’s second home to live in and flip.
“It was in terrible shape … really pitiful,” she says. “We gutted it and opened up doorways. We had to update all of the plumbing and redo the sub-floor and the foundation. The wiring in homes more than 50 years old does not meet code and isn’t efficient, so you pretty much have to gut all the wiring in the house.”
Once she rebuilt and reinforced the bones of the old cottage, Lauren began to layer the newly open floor plan with a calming color palette accented by playful, eclectic elements. “I love a lot of metals like brass and copper,” she says, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the kitchen, where copper is king in an adorable open-shelving vignette. It pops against a herringbone tile backsplash that fills the entire wall and is the fruit of Lauren’s first tiling project. “It was definitely a process, but it was fun. It was something I always wanted to learn how to do,” she says.
The bathroom is a complete renovation driven by her favorite color, teal. It appears not only in a lovely, deep-hued mermaid-tail tile, but paler shades of teal are also woven throughout the home — windowpanes, doors, molding and even the dining room table. A fresh coat of this serene sea-foam shade also gives new life to the original brick fireplace surround, perfectly capturing how Lauren respects the historic elements of the home while bringing them into the present. She’s even decided to branch out and get a real estate license, so she can turn her design career and home-flipping hobby a full-time gig. “It’s definitely a fun hobby that I get to turn into a career,” says Lauren.
Bespoke Family Cottage
Homeowner Laura Ellis loved her family’s historic 1925 cottage in the Grove Park neighborhood of Homewood. It was nearly perfect for her, her husband and their young daughter, but each gathering space — the kitchen, living room and dining room — have been walled off since its construction. Laura wanted to open up the floor plan and connect these communal spaces. She and her husband also needed a larger bathroom and closet space. And with the home’s unique ‘20s design, she knew she would need a custom design solution to respect and preserve its historic elements. So, she turned to a design-build firm, Twin Construction. One of their talented in-house interior designers, Crystal Tucker, drew the floor plans for a master bath addition and an interior renovation that would meet these functional needs while respecting the home’s unique historical design.
And where there were once four separate living spaces — a dining room, a living room, a kitchen and a back laundry/mud room — there is now one large, luxurious living space perfect for this family of three (with one on the way!). They knocked out the walls and wider openings were custom-fitted to reclaimed wood beams. Calcutta gold quartz countertops gleam and provide durability in this family kitchen. “My favorite thing is that we got to tear out the backs of the old cabinets and completely tile that back wall,” says designer Lauren Brown, who chose the finishes for this project.
The result is a cottage with bespoke functionality that embraces and celebrates the home’s historical significance with elegance and grace.
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