As I was recently preparing to host a luncheon, I was reminded of the wonderful days when Danny and I bought our historic Huntsville home and began the renovations that have given it new life and made it our own. It is an honor to have our home featured in the March/April issue of Southern Lady magazine. The article “Grandeur Renewed” tells the story beautifully. I hope you enjoy reading about this journey as much as we enjoyed living it.
Though she’d never stepped foot inside, Beverly Farrington had been under the spell of an enchanting 1818 Dutch Colonial in Huntsville, Alabama, since the early 1980s. “It’s just always had this charm about it to me,” Beverly says. “It has this beautiful pergola on the side and sits on this beautiful tree-lined street.”
The stars aligned in 2014 when the owners, who had leased the property as office space for 20 years, decided to sell, and Beverly stepped into the lofty, well-lit entrance hall for the first time. She was smitten. “I’ve always been drawn to light,” says Beverly. She was mesmerized by the sunshine pouring in through abundant windows, casting lovely shadows on the original staircase and accentuating the singular craftsmanship in every room.
She and her husband, Danny Alm, purchased the edifice – dubbing it the House on Gates for its distinguished position on Gates Avenue in the Twickenham Historic District – and dove straight into an extensive renovation. Her vision centered around enhancing the home’s existing character while gently nudging it into the 21st century. “The things that were important to me were preserving the architectural details and the light, and also making the house flow well for daily living — and flow well for parties,” says Beverly, an avid entertaine
The designer not only spruced up the stately exteriors, but she also completely revamped the dated interiors to better suit their lifestyle. As principal of her acclaimed firm, Accents of the South, Beverly has ample experience with refreshing older homes and an expert eye for balancing classic elegance – fine art and antiques, timeless fabrics, contemporary top notes – with comfort and function, a sensibility she describes as “Southern transitional.”
Local architect Frank Nola helped reconfigure the floor plan and redo each space for modern-day livability. Most rooms were last remodeled in the 1920s, and the floor-to-ceiling panel molding throughout subtly reflects the era’s Art Deco influence. The home’s two side wings and two Federal-style mantels were added in 1834.
Easy transitions between rooms, an expanded centrally located kitchen, and a spacious master suite took priority in the main level’s new layout. “The previous kitchen became my master bath; the dining room became my master bedroom; and the breakfast room became the master’s mirrored corridor and closets,” Beverly says. The team replaced one of the first-floor bedrooms with a formal dining area that opens to the back terrace and garden.
“It’s nice to be able to open up the inside to the outside,” says Beverly, noting how the soft trickle of an outdoor fountain adds to the ambience during dinner parties. Gold leaf tea paper on the ceiling and a dramatic, wide cove trim also contribute to the room’s welcoming atmosphere. “The room sort of envelops you when you’re in there,” she explains.
In addition to redesigning her home’s interiors, Beverly Farrington dedicated special attention to outdoor details. The property’s position on a large corner of Huntsville, Alabama’s Twickenham Historic District called for landscape features like espaliered vines, beds of hydrangea and caladium, and a towering statue of Titania, Shakespeare’s queen of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A capacious butler’s pantry (right) provides space for flower arranging and party prep.
Open shutters in the marble-swathed master bathroom reveal the private backyard and its reigning statuary. “It’s nice to have that vista,” Beverly says. One of her favorite additions to the house is a long hall of mirrors that connects the master bedroom and bath. “It’s fabulous when you’re in there,” she says. “There’s a great reflection of light, and it expands the space. To have my closet hidden within that wall of mirrors is really fun too.”
Despite the reconfiguration, moments of interest remained. Beverly softened and created cohesion among architectural elements and intricate woodwork by painting most of the walls and trim similar muted shades.
Fine tuning the foyer was essential, because Beverly sees the entry as the key to setting a home’s overall tone. “It’s important to me that when people walk in, they feel a sense of calm and a sense of warmth,” she says. In the vast entrance hall, Beverly painted the hardwood floors with a pattern she recalled from St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. “I wanted it to be continuous and come off as large and long; I needed interest without using a rug,” she says.
In the gracious space, a black armoire doubles as a bar for arriving guests. “Those are the things I thought about,” says Beverly. “How am I going to make people feel welcome and warm; how is my home going to feel inviting? I think I accomplished all those things I set out to accomplish.”