Set amid woodsy groves, gently sloping swaths of green and enormous hundred-year-old blueberry bushes, this new home in Mountain Brook reflects its natural setting. Architect Chris Reebals, president of Christopher Architecture & Interiors, let nature inspire his choices in both form and materials for the 6,600-square-foot stone, reclaimed antique brick, copper and cedar home featuring sloping rooflines and repeating arches.
“I like to introduce some of the organic shapes of nature,” says Chris. “You’ll rarely see a tree that’s just hard and sharp in its edges, or the rolling hills of Birmingham without undulation or movement, and I like to speak that language in design. When there’s an opportunity to splay a roof or add a swoop or do something that has more of an organic shape, that’s a response to how things are in nature.”
And he’s not so much a follower of trends or styles. “What influences me more is a desire to create designs that are beautiful and elegant and have staying power.” To that end, he says he gravitates to natural materials, particularly in a setting like this one.
“I didn’t want the finishes to be too stark in contrast,” he says, adding that their evolution over time is key. “I love the way natural materials patina. I love the way copper fades to green, or moss might grow on the north side of stone. It expresses what happens in nature.”
One of the most striking natural elements of the home, inside and out, is a 36-inch stone wall that penetrates the house sideways and from the lower floor to the first and second floors and out through the roofline. While it shines as a dramatic design feature, it also serves practical functions.
“Our clients wanted a distinct space for their in-laws who often stay with them, and they needed it on the main level in case there were any challenges with mobility,” says Chris. “So, the guest suite is on one side of the stone element, which also serves as fireplace and chimney and incorporates recessed cabinetry. It provides a nice transition from the public space of the family room on one side to the more private space for guests on the other.” Christopher Architecture & Interiors‘ Vice President and Lead Interior Designer Joanna Goodman ensured the suite feels like home to her clients’ parents, using heirloom pieces such as a family Chippendale headboard.
Integrating family heirlooms throughout the home’s interior was one of their clients’ key requests. “Some furniture had been handed down from her grandmother or other family members, and we created a space to accommodate those from the beginning,” says Joanna. That inheritance included a wealth of cherished dishware and glasses. “Everywhere we could add dish storage and display, we did,” says Joanna, citing a dish pantry, dining room storage, a butler’s walk with glass cabinets, plus kitchen shelving.
“They’re a very loving, giving couple, and they do a lot of entertaining, hosting giant parties and graciously opening up their home,” Joanna says. “We wanted to make sure that whatever we designed would be able to accommodate multiple people, throughout the year, and provide for them in making this a warm and inviting home. It’s a very happy-feeling house.”
A happy home, indeed! Thank you to Chris Luker of Luker Photography for today’s beautiful images.
Architecture: Chris Reebals, Christopher Architecture & Interiors
Interior design: Joanna Goodman, Christopher Architecture & Interiors
Site and landscape: Environmental Design Studio, David Eyrich
Countertops: Pacific Shore Stones
Cabinets: Cotton Woodworks
Hardware: Brandino Brass
Wall and floor tiles: Pacific Shore and Stone
Outdoor lighting: Bevolo
Indoor lighting: Restoration Hardware, Vaughan Designs, Circa Interiors & Antiques, Paul Ferrante
Appliances and plumbing: Ferguson
Outdoor furniture: Summer Classics