When ARC Realty’s Lynlee Hughes came across a listing of a historic midcentury home in Redmont Park with remarkable views, a particular family came to mind. “It had so much potential with the yard and views they were looking for, so many windows, set up perfectly for a pool and panoramic city views out of pretty much every space in the home,” says Lynlee. “The home was part of the historic Herbert Stockham estate built in 1957. With its midcentury modern vibe, this family envisioned themselves spending time with their family and making memories in this home.”
Lynlee and her clients brought along interior designer Alima Deneke for the first walk through. In this Q&A, we learn more from Alima, best known for her warm minimalist and modern designs, on how she brought this Redmont Park gem into its full glory.
Q: What were your thoughts upon seeing the home for the first time?
A: The minute I saw it, I thought – yes, yes, yes. I had worked with the clients before, and they are the nicest people. I honestly thought they would stay in the home we did together for a very long time, but in 2021, I got a call from them asking if I would come look at a house that [Realtor] Lynlee Hughes had brought to their attention. [The client] said to me, “I can’t say yes until you see the property!” It is such a unique property for Birmingham. It feels so secluded; it’s a large, wooded lot up on a hill with amazing views of downtown. Not only that, but it was also actually very sentimental to my client because she grew up playing at her best friend’s house next door.
Q: This was pretty much a total renovation, correct? How did the home’s starting point affect your process and the outcome?
A: I see a lot of 1920s Tudors, craftsman bungalows and traditional homes, but this was a true midcentury modern ranch style — and that plus the incredible views was our jumping off point. The house was built in 1957 and originally lived in by the architect who designed it. These clients had always liked midcentury, and this home checked so many boxes for them. We didn’t change the shape of the house or the square footage, but we did take every bit down to the studs. The home had endured some unfortunate updates from the 1980s and ‘90s—we took down walls, vaulted the ceilings, added dormers and reconfigured many of the spaces, such as the kitchen that was made more secluded in the ‘50s.
Q: What is your approach to working with clients on big projects like this one?
A: Every client is different, and I know these clients so well; I know their children and their pets, so that was easier for me. My immediate vision was a California casual, indoor/outdoor vibe that took full advantage of the beautiful property and midcentury style. They loved that direction and trusted me and the process. I knew we were on the same page and leaned into the midcentury vibes. In a big project like this, I start with the bathrooms and the kitchen designs, and that lays the groundwork. I create a “design direction document” that covers everything we’re going to do, with inspiration photos, color palettes and more to get feedback on what they’re drawn to.
Q: What was most important to these clients in a design plan?
A: They felt certain that this was their forever home, so they wanted to do it right. If that meant tearing things down, getting all new furnishings, whatever—they had a holistic and long-term viewpoint, from small details to the pool design and landscaping. We wanted everything to feel seamless together, and they wanted to invest in this house. And they invested almost two years of their time for the renovations from February 2021 to its completion in October 2022.
Q: What inspiration motivated you the most?
A: Midcentury modern is my favorite architectural style, so that, plus the property’s natural inspiration of being so secluded and private. The lot and just the original layout was begging for a pool, and I was shocked it didn’t already have one. So especially with them having three kids, we knew we wanted to do a pool. I could envision it right away with the large accordion sliding doors giving the indoor/outdoor Palm Springs feel with views of downtown Birmingham.
Q: The home feels so calming and beautiful with such a cohesive palette. How did you accomplish that minimalist but warm feel?
A: Being able to design the whole house from scratch, it made it easier for consistency. Finding furnishings that fit just right instead of making things fit that they already had was helpful. It has tons of windows and amazing natural light, so we painted the walls a nice crisp and clean white then let those outdoor views be the focus. We brought in beautiful blonde, white oak in the flooring, cabinetry and beams for warmth, then layered easy, minimalist furniture with lots of texture to make it feel casual, comfortable and welcoming.
Q: We know three children, pets, (and wet swimsuits!) live at this home. How did you incorporate practical function with the high-style esthetic?
A: Super functional layouts, ample storage and accessibility that fit the way they live. We used so many great performance and indoor/outdoor fabrics for pretty things with high durability, and I love vintage rugs for how they hold up to anything and last forever.
Q: Was there something you incorporated in this home you had not used previously in other homes?
A: The terrazzo! For so long I have wanted to use it and just haven’t had the right place. We worked with Concrete Collaborative on a custom design for the terrazzo flooring in the pool house, as well as the pool coping and pool deck. Collaborating with the landscape architect was also so fun!
Q: Tell us about your passion for bringing a modern design to homes in the South.
I grew up in Florida and around a lot of midcentury modern homes. I also spent summers as a kid visiting California and just love that indoor/outdoor casual feel. The minimalist modern style just speaks to me. It feels sort of opposite to a lot of the traditional style in most of the Deep South. Early in my business, I wasn’t sure my style would resonate with Birmingham homeowners. It’s been refreshing to find so many who love it like I do and who seek me out for my aesthetic.
Builder: Kelly Watson, Bluestone Building
Architect: Thompson Architecture
Pool Builder: Carlton Rushton
Landscape Architect: Go Lightly, John Wilson