Most old homes have secrets. This one's no different. In the living room, there's a door disguised as a built-in bookshelf. In the dining room, hidden cabinets are tucked into the walls. And in the kitchen, what looks like a glass-fronted hutch is really a modern refrigerator. But the house's biggest secret? It's not old at all. Completed just two years ago, the English-inspired home outside Birmingham, Alabama, is an entirely new build. It just seems like it's been in the family for generations. "We wanted a place that felt aged and well-worn, with a soul and a history," interior designer Fran Keenan says.
To that end, Keenan worked with architect Brian Barrett to infuse the 6,800-square-foot property with character, intimacy, and charm. The kitchen and breakfast room are designed to showcase a full wall of windows—whose wooden trim is painted in what Keenan calls a "peppy" green—and make the most of the two-story arched and beamed ceiling. With its taupe and green palette, this essential gathering space "is a bouquet of all the colors of the house," which, Keenan says, "are driven by the antique rug in the sitting area that the clients purchased years ago." It's a room designed for lingering over family meals—an antique table, dining chairs, and bench invite gatherings, and one wall of the kitchen opens to a bright blue scullery, created to let the homeowner indulge in her passion for baking bread. The same attention to detail permeates the rest of the home. In the open-plan living space, archways and aged wood beams frame the double-height ceilings, while the walls are covered in tongue-and-groove paneling painted a serene putty green. Floors are either reclaimed white oak or natural stone, and there are built-in bookcases and custom cabinetry throughout. Dormer windows spotlight the garden views, and every single window frame features wide, beveled trim. "This house is all about patina," Keenan says.
Much of that patina comes from the owners' existing collection of French and English antiques—and their willingness to layer pattern, texture, and print. "It was really just a matter of incorporating all their treasured things," Keenan says of her clients, who have always appreciated older, more storied homes. To ensure cohesion, Keenan covered all the new cabinetry and construction in aged, saturated hues drawn from the owner's needlepoint pillows and textiles. "The color was a natural extension; that was really fun for us," Keenan says.
Fun might just be the home's defining word. Despite its old-world air, treasured heirlooms, and abundance of prints, the space is entirely free of fussiness. "The house is full of beautiful antiques," Keenan says. "But the way you feel inside it is that you just want to relax."
This charming little nook, located off a breezeway that connects the main house to the guest house and garage, echoes the kitchen's color palette. Keenan calls these stairs the "pajama stairs" since they provide a back way to the main floor; a favorite runner from Hiltz-Lauber makes them feel extra cozy. The homeowners' 19th-century English plate rack and antique English pine server hold more pieces from their collections. Light: Vaughan Designs. Paint: Aventurine (trim), Abingdon Putty (walls), Benjamin Moore.
This cozy corner repeats the kitchen's paint colors. Window treatments: Suzanne Tucker Home.
Chair: upholstered in Jasper Fabrics, trimmed in Samuel & Sons French grosgrain. Throw: vintage.
A dual-purpose kitchen and breakfast room is painted in Abingdon Putty on walls and Aventurine on trim, both Benjamin Moore. The cabinets by Cotton Woodworks are custom-stained.
In lieu of a hood above the range, the designer opted for a stove with a downdraft built in, allowing for "continuous windows to let in light." Island: Cotton Woodworks in Beau Geste, Pratt & Lambert. Rug: Black Sheep Antiques. Pendants: Devol Lighting.
The millwork and cabinets are painted the same bold color for continuity. Cabinets with unlacquered brass cup pulls by Brandino Brass and paint in Beau Geste by Pratt & Lambert echo the colors of the antique rug, as do Roman shades by GP&J Baker.
This is "definitely a favorite room," Keenan says, thanks to the antique furniture and luminous metallic fruit wallpaper by Morris & Co. Paint: Pale Sea Mist (ceiling), Benjamin Moore. Good Earth (trim), Pratt & Lambert. Window treatments: Lee Jofa, with Samuel & Sons trim.
"Designed for napping," Keenan says, this nook off the primary bedroom includes the owners' sofa, reupholstered in linen fabric from GP&J Baker. Paint: Good Earth (walls), Pratt & Lambert. Teresa's Green (ceiling), Farrow & Ball.
The owners' antique furniture is framed by a window treatment by Jasper Fabrics and wallpaper by F&P Interiors. Rug: custom, Hiltz-Lauber.
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Styled by Liz Strong.