Although its impressive square footage would suggest otherwise, Urban Home Market is no big-box franchise. And that’s exactly how Kathy McMahon, who owns the expansive space, likes it.
Located at The Village at Lee Branch, Urban Home Market offers a wide selection of hand-picked home décor items. With several designers on staff, each item goes through a fine-tooth comb before it hits the floor — ensuring only the best items make the final cut.
An interior designer by trade, Kathy has spent decades honing her eye for design. Opening Urban Home Market three years ago, she says, was fulfilling a lifetime dream. “What we’ve done is brought something to this side of town that’s different and unique,” says Kathy, who moved to Birmingham in 2002, lured by the area’s verdant landscape. “It’s not your typical furniture store.”
Because Urban Home Market isn’t restricted to keeping certain items on display, the store is constantly changing. What customers see on the floor one day could be completely different the next, Kathy says. From ornate light fixtures to local art, the store boasts a little bit of everything. “We try to create little vignettes throughout the store that people could envision in their home,” Kathy says. “When people come in here, it’s different every time — and that’s what we love about it.”
Most items are sourced regionally, giving a healthy nod to Alabama artists and craftsmen. And, like any design guru, Kathy makes frequent trips to market so the store stays stocked with the latest trends in home goods. Some pieces — like a pair of 200-year-old Egyptian doors — can only be picked out by the most seasoned eye, however. When considering whether or not to incorporate an item into the store’s mix, history plays a big role, Kathy says.
“I like learning the history behind the pieces I buy,” she says. “For example, if it came out of a house that’s 150 years old, it’s kind of neat to think about what that piece has seen.”
Mixing modern and classic motifs is a common theme at Urban Home Market. For instance, Kathy says, modern metallic accents and traditional furniture are a frequent pairing. The goal of the space is to marry a mix of pieces “to keep things interesting,” the designer says. “I think the days of the standard set are gone,” she adds. “I like to take some gold elements and mix them in with the new, or even take architectural pieces and rework them into a space.”
Much like an artist would, Kathy’s strategy for outfitting a home is similar to starting with a blank canvas; opting for basic items in classic neutrals first, and then painting in pops of color in the form of accent pillows, throws and small accessories. “It’s the way to go, because it’s really easy to change those elements,” she says.
As the store continues to shift with the seasons and feature a revolving cast of furnishings, Kathy says she hopes Urban Home Market can help shoppers develop an eye for creating a more stylish and comfortable home.
“I’ve been doing this for a long, long time,” she says. “It’s been a wonderful adventure.”
Urban Home Market is located at 1001 Doug Baker Blvd, Suite #101, Birmingham, AL 35242. Hours are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m to 6 p.m., and Thursday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call (205) 980-4663 or visit urbanhomemarket.com.
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