When Jayne and David Westbrook decided to move from Jackson, Mississippi, to Birmingham, Alabama, to be closer to their only daughter, son-in-law and grandson, they had an immediate connection to help them find the perfect home: Sean Beam and David Lee Walker of Richard Tubb Interiors. The interior design duo used to pine for the Westbrooks, one of their favorite clients, to leave Jackson and move to Birmingham, and were thrilled to learn their wish had come true.
“We just love their willingness to let us do what they have hired us to do,” says Sean, who previously designed the Westbrook’s daughter’s condo in Birmingham. “So much of what we do is based upon trust, and when you have a client who understands that, it makes for a much better working relationship and ultimately a better outcome of the project.”
Quintessentially Southern, Jayne always greets guests with fresh cookies and nibbles, cold beverages and her signature offering, Tab colas. And if you’re not thirsty, she’ll simply charm you with conversation and laughter. Sean and David are equally as effervescent and thoughtful, even finding retro-style Tab cola glasses for Jayne to add to her hostess arsenal. Needless to say, a friendship was born early on between client and designers.
Sean recalls an afternoon when he and Jayne had a ball placing all of Jayne’s daughter Haley’s wedding gifts in two new glass cabinets he found. “We had the best time arranging her wedding china and Annieglass,” says Sean. “But we are very hands-on in that way, loving to use people’s personal collections and objects that have meaning to them; everything doesn’t have to be from the store. To us, that’s what makes a space really special: that it is really them.”
Sean and David were a part of the process from the get-go, meeting the Westbrooks along the house-hunting trail and consulting on each potential abode. They decided to settle on a charming six-bedroom home in the historic Hollywood enclave in Homewood. “It’s so quaint here,” says Jayne. “It’s like Mayberry.”
“When we started working with Jayne in the very beginning, we knew that they wanted everything to be livable and comfortable,” says Sean. “Nothing was going to be just for show.”
Jayne adds, “And I really wanted this main floor to be just beautiful. I’m getting ready to be 67, and my husband is semi-retired, so we thought, ‘Well, this floor will be transferred to a condo when we’re ready to downsize.’”
“One thing that is very special about our house is that my husband, David, has done all of the artwork, every piece,” says Jayne of her artist husband, who is a doctor by trade. “It’s not his profession, but it’s his passion, and he loves doing it. And it’s as important to me as it is to him.”
Sean also says that this is one of his favorite things about the house. “It’s not the norm that we have a collection of art painted by the homeowner. David and I chose Glacier White for the ceiling, walls and trim, because we knew it was going to be a great backdrop for the furnishings, but really the artwork would shine on that Glacier White.”
And not only is this clean, bright backdrop now bedecked with bright, beautiful pieces of art that are each meaningful to the family, but the six-bedroom home is regularly filled with members from Haley’s family down the street and extended family from Gadsden, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Jackson, Mississippi. “This is another reason we made it livable,” says Sean. “Nothing is fragile in this house.” For holidays and long weekends, the families converge, and Jayne plays host to upwards of 20 people at once, and the home is brimming with life. Sean jokes that Jayne is running a small boutique hotel. “That’s the thing,” says Jayne. “I love to make it pretty, and my sister is very good with food, so we make a great team.”
All parties involved teem with excitement when it comes to even talking about installation day. “They come in and say, ‘OK, see you later!’ And we leave, and then they call us when they are through, and we walk in, and everything is perfectly placed — our things that we love mixed with new things — and it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh! It’s a total makeover!” Sean agrees, saying that the weeks of seeing things, showing the client pictures and fabrics, and ordering things are totally worth it. “All of that work comes to fruition,” says David. “When you actually pull it all together and you make someone that happy — it’s just so joyous to give that to someone. And it’s so personal to us. It’s thrilling to see how David’s artwork has taken on this incredible life of its own in this space.”
We walk downstairs and into the laid-back football-viewing rec room and meander into David Westbrook’s art studio, where a commissioned portrait of Sean’s late King Cavalier pups sits on the easel. Sean asks if he can see it, even though it is still a work in progress. Sean has to catch his breath. Speechless and moved, he finally says, “That is beautiful.”
Jayne says she just can’t say enough about Sean and David. She sums it up by landing on, simply, “They are just our friends.” Currently, the designers are helping the Westbrooks find their next home — ideally a one-story home. “It’s fun thinking about what the future may hold. It’s not just this house, and we’re done,” says Sean. “We’re going to be working with them, probably until I’m in a nursing home, and they are on the other end of the nursing home!” They all laugh, and Jane adds, “Absolutely!”
Thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for today’s beautiful photography!
Thank you to Sean Beam and David Lee Walker of Richard Tubb Interiors for sharing their gorgeous work with us! To see more of their fabulous interiors, follow them on Instagram at seanbeam_davidwalker.
Interior designers: Sean Beam and David Lee Walker of Richard Tubb Interiors
Paint: Benjamin Moore
Kitchen counter tops: Birmingham Marble Works, (205) 988-5585
Kitchen table and Louis ghost chairs: Design Within Reach
Plumbing fixtures, tub and wall tile in master bath: Fixtures & Finishes
Floor tile in master bath: Robert F. Henry Tile Company
Lighting: Currey & Company, Visual Comfort & Co., Robert Abbey and Arteriors
Lampshades: Village Firefly
Rugs: King’s House Oriental Rugs and Billy Brown Flooring
Upholstered furniture: Bernhardt Interiors and Lee Industries