Houzz Tour: Casually French in Birmingham
Neutral colors and antiques go lush in distinguished Norman-style home
In Mary Evelyn McKee's Birmingham home, polished and serene choices are a mere extension of the designer's naturally distinguished palette. The Norman-style house reflects her Francophile inclinations, while always keeping things slightly casual in family-heavy places such as the mudroom entrance and kitchen. Comfort is key, but it never takes over the sophisticated aesthetic and chic color palette of cream, white, beige and moss green. Carefully selected antiques complete the twist on traditional, Southern style.
The exterior is an architectural example of understated design. With no shutters on the house, the over-sized lamp hanging over the door is prominent. The ivy growing up the side allows the house blend into the environment.
The barrel vault-ceilinged foyer leads directly to the garden. French doors in the entryway and back of the hall bring in lots of light. Two armless club chairs offer a place to sit and read.
McKee wanted to keep the kitchen old-fashioned, so she placed an antique table in the center and used dark grout to offset the subway tile backsplash. Simple white upholstered chairs maintain the white and dark wood color palette.
In the kitchen, a drop-down desk is surrounded by storage for dishes, glassware and serveware. The dark gunmetal gray finish feels dramatic against an otherwise white kitchen color scheme.
Skirted chairs surround a French walnut table in the mushroom-gray dining room. Neoclassical touches include the grandiose chandelier and lush, golden raw silk drapes.
A watercolor print of vibrant yellow flowers above a traditional sideboard adds some of the brightest color in the house.
The color tones of stone, straw and white are soothing enough to allow the various antiques to stand out nicely. Children's portraits lean against a mantel flanked by gold French sconces.
The designer's long-haired dachshund Nicholas sits on the overstuffed daybed in the living room. A traditional metal base lamp anchors a tablescape of accessories that include shells and crystal pieces. An abstract nude hangs solo on the far wall.
McKee painted the bedroom a color she calls the "holy" color. "It's the color of the Virgin's veils in Renaissance paintings," she says. A mix of blue and green, the overall effect is quite cerebral and calm. The blue-on-blue linens and draperies enhance the pretty aesthetic.
The Fortuny upholstered chair plays off the beige/gold mirror and small walnut table. Local artists are responsible for the small prints she's layered using plate stands.
Ideabook updated on Nov. 3, 2011.
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