Our room-by-room walk through of Allison’s Alabama stone cottage continues.
Our tour of Allison’s lovely stone house on a lake in Alabama continues with a walk through some of the private spaces in the 5-bedroom home that our blogging partner and her husband built on 4-1/2 acres. If you missed part one of the tour, you might want to start there — a good deal of background is included.
While it is considered a European cottage in general style, Tulsa architect Jack Arnold’s design was expansive enough to work for Allison’s family with three children and a host of pets. When the children moved on to their own places, she simply repurposed their furniture and found herself with that much more room for guests. As you will see.
A long terrace runs across the back of the house, which overlooks a 12-acre man-made lake. Cedar posts and a tongue-and-groove spruce ceiling contribute to the woodsy feeling. One end of the porch is screened, and is also accessible from the master bedroom, while the section adjacent to the great room remains open. One of their dogs, Dubya, spends a lot of time there watching the ducks.
The woods around the lake color shift with the seasons. Color is especially good in the fall.
Tucked away on the lower level is a spacious den that Allison’s husband uses in the mornings. The coffee table here was a kitchen table which he cut down and the children distressed from years of use. “I like flexible furniture,” Allison explains, adding that most of the pieces in this room have been in use for more than 25 years — particularly the armoire in back and the German chest to the right of the window. Allison’s great grandmother’s rocking chair (to the right of the table) is used in the den, which has a more informal fireplace than the great room.
During construction, Allison found the walnut sleigh bed in her master bedroom at Ethan Allen and felt it would set the tone she wanted. Over the bed is an old window frame and on the left, her grandmother’s piecrust table. Draperies here, and throughout the house, are from Restoration Hardware.
Among the many things Allison collects are European architectural etchings, often hung is sets as they are here in one corner of the bedroom A large orchid sits on a metal foot stool alongside one of her favorite chairs — a child’s chair with needpoint seat and brass tacks.
Japanese soaking tubs are usually made of wood. This Onzen tub, from Ann Sacks, is a modernized version that has two integral seats which allow bathers to sit, submerged up to the neck in the Japanese style. Whirlpool jets were added. The oil-rubbed bronze tub filler comes from Restoration Hardware’s Bistro plumbing fixture line. The tub also affords a view of the lake and trees to the side of home.
While it looks like vintage, Allison’s dressing table in the master bath is another modern piece she found at Ethan Allen. While she says “some people don’t like plates in a bathroom, I enjoy seeing them daily.” The large one with a pierced rim [center] was a Christmas gift from her husband while others belonged to her parents and grandparents. On the dressing table, in front of the orchid [left] is a “smoking set,” a gift from her Grandmother who never smoked (years ago smoking sets were must-have accessories). “I like having family things around, little reminders,” she says.
Each guest room formerly belongs to one of the children and their styles reflect that fact. The older daughter’s bedroom furniture was used here, in a bedroom on the main-level. Allison hung three framed one-year-portrait dresses above the bed — one belonged to her, another to her sister and one their youngest daughter. Allison’s paternal grandmother sewed Allison’s sisters dress in the center.
In the same room, a chest was added and backstopped with one of a pair of gates, used in lieu of art on that wall. “I really need to do something with the other one,” Allison said when asked about the gate. It’s easy to see the direction of her chair collecting — this one, near the window, is of a golden wood.
“I may have gone a little overboard with the dogs,” Allison joked about her son’s guest bedroom, on the lower level, which has a big dog theme. At the end of the faux-rattan bed with metal mesh headboard and footboard sits a vintage leather English coach trunk. Etchings in this room are mainly sporting scenes — one above the table [right] was purchased during a shopping trip to Nashville.
A cozy reading area was created at the other end of this exceptionally large bedroom, which is the same length as the master. The Oriental rug was brought downstairs when a soumak (flat-weave) with a pale blue ground replaced it in the great room.
Allison’s house sports an official “Shabby Chic” bedroom, centered around this headboard and bedding purchased at the store where her oldest daughter worked. The leaded transom window over the bed ties into the feminine theme, along with the crystal chandelier. Another birdcage was also purchased in San Francisco, where her daughter lives.
White denim slipcovers give a Shabby Chic look to a sofa that isn’t. Allison found the flowered “bargain pillows” for $4. How perfect they look with the peonies! Like so many rooms in the house, this bedroom also has wonderful views. Just dreamy.