After a six-month stint in New Zealand, Adam and Katherine Thrower of Birmingham, AL, were struck by the culture of living with less space and less stuff. Inspired by this aesthetic, the couple craved a simpler style of living in their next home when they returned to the States. They wanted simpler, smaller, with more outdoor living spaces for playing, walking and biking. This made Homewood — an idyllic neighborhood of historic bungalows with mature trees over sidewalk-lined streets — the perfect place for their family of four.
“The original home was a rambling American cottage built in 1940,” says interior designer Fran Keenan of Fran Keenan Design, who partnered with architect Marshall Anderson of Design Initiative on this and the Throwers’ previous home. “Marshall and I visited this home while it was on the market and brainstormed how it could be transformed into the Throwers’ new home, then offered our thoughts. The Throwers decided to take the leap from abroad so that drawings could begin immediately.”
Much of the historic cottage’s footprint didn’t change, but the home was gutted and the roofline raised to accommodate two bedrooms and a playroom upstairs for the children. A separate garage with an upstairs apartment for guests was also built. The design team made these additions with a minimalist’s eye, respecting the scale and style of the historic cottage and its neighborhood while also turning an old-school bungalow into an airy, light-filled, modern retreat.
Fran describes the aesthetic of the interiors as edited, undecorated and honest — a mix of clean, crisp upholstery, modern art and timeworn pieces for an overall European vibe. She says the idea was less is more. And she set about creating a sleek but warm space for the family to call home.
“This is the most deconstructed and undecorated project we’ve ever done,” says Fran. “As an underlying theme, we kept the decorating restrained — no trims, no pleats, no embellishments — allowing the streamlined structure to breathe. Our client, Adam, who served as the contractor for the renovation, wanted to celebrate the structures and workings of the house for what they are, instead of masking over everything with a perfect façade.” This deconstructed approach influenced many of the design choices, such as the decision to expose the floor joists of the second floor for the first floor ceiling, lending height and a loft-like feel.
“Our first challenge was given to us by the client: to use the same paint color throughout the house. Since we are known for our use of color, I embraced the challenge and sought to find the perfect shade of white,” says Fran, who landed on a breathable hue that laid the perfect backdrop for the home’s streamlined modern vibe. “I love that the inside of the house feels like a snowy day, but it’s still warm and cozy. You’re encapsulated in a crisp white cocoon with strong contrasts and loads of texture.”
The result is a home that is unpretentious and unfussy. It forgoes the frills for a subdued space that — while elegant and polished — leaves the personality to the humans who dwell within. “It was fun and exciting to reinterpret this family in a new and different way from the first house and see their family, and thus their dwelling, evolve to reflect who they are,” says Fran. Taking on this European design approach, the true decoration is found in its inhabitants giggling together, the aromas of cooking in the kitchen, boisterous footsteps running through the house, the clanking of piano practice, homework studies at the banquette, the subtle murmurs of bedtime — the family learning, growing, laughing, loving and living together.
Thank you to Graham Yelton of Graham Yelton Creative for the gorgeous images of the Throwers’ home.
And thank you to the Thrower family and Fran Keenan of Fran Keenan Design for sharing this gorgeous home with us!
Architecture: Marshall Anderson of Design Initiative
Interior design: Fran Keenan of Fran Keenan Design
Landscape architecture: John Wilson of Golightly Landscape Architecture
Landscape maintenance: Father Nature
Custom cabinetry in kitchen & master bath: MDM Design Studio
Plumbing & hardware in master bath: Fixtures & Finishes
Kitchen countertop: Concrete Farmer, John Ward, (205) 790-1481
Outdoor furniture: Bobo Intriguing Objects, YLiving, Garden Variety Design, Eneby Home, Elegant Earth
Sofa in front living room: ABC Carpet and Home
Custom sofa in den and rattan chair in front living room: Dixon Rye
Banana leaf chandelier in master bath: Anthropologie