Under Construction: Alys Beach

Happy Monday!  I meant to get this post up this morning but I was in jury duty (I was not selected)  and I just had a minute to sit down and catch up.  We wanted to show y’all a new project (well… new to you, we have been working on it for quite a while) .  It is a home for a family in Alys Beach.  It is currently under construction.  It is going to be a REALLY cool house.  We are working on drawings of all things interior, as well as paints, plaster, wood, tiles, stone, cabinets, lighting, plumbing, appliances, custom furniture… just to name a few.  AK and I made a trip(trip is a strong word for the 1 mile distance between this home and our studio) to the site on Friday and wanted to share a few photos.  It will be fun to see the home come together and share the process with you.  We are working with Jeff Dungan of Dungan Nequette Architects on this home.  It is a fun, collaborative process with this design with really fun clients…. and Alys Beach… what can I say.  We love designing at Alys Beach…. the white background and natural materials is a dream for any designer.  So take a look around…..

a great setting... is a great way to start!

This is the future kitchen and living room. That is the terrace beyond...

This is the future living room windows.

The beginning of the tower. How cool are the oval windows??

View from the top terrace. Sunset anyone?

So just imagine all white… We will post more pics soon!

Have a great week!


{tracery tips} more of our favorite neutral paint colors

Around this time last year, we shared some of our favorite neutral paint colors.  That post has consistently been one of our most read and commented since, so today we wanted to follow up and share a few more with you.  If you follow our work, you know that more often then not, we select neutral paint colors and let accents like artwork or patterned pillows add color and interest to a space.  Neutral doesn’t necessarily have to mean beige and boring though.  As with every paint color we post about, we’ve used all of these in our projects and we can attest to their success, though of course you should always sample a color in your own space before committing to several gallons!


‘White Dove’ by Benjamin Moore (OC-17) is such a peaceful color.  We love to use it in bedrooms and bathrooms.  It’s a nice creamy tone without being too yellow (we are not fans of yellowy whites…they are not flattering–to people or furnishings!)



Visitors to our Rosemary Beach shop often remark about the dark color that wraps the center room of our space…it’s this shade, Sherwin Williams ‘Urbane Bronze’ (SW-7048).  Not only does it make a great ‘dark room’ color–try it on the ceiling, walls, trim, everywhere for a really dramatic effect–but it’s also a great color for exterior windows and trim.  There’s just enough black in this dark brown to give it a really distinguished look.


Charcoal Gray continues to be a really popular wall color.  Benjamin Moore’s ‘Iron Mountain’ (2134-30) has just a touch of brown so it isn’t too color or too black.  It looks great paired with crisp white or natural linen.


We’ve found that one of the problems with trying to introduce grey into homes is that anything too brown or beige suddenly looks dirty up against the cooler tones of a grey paint color.  Benjamin Moore’s ‘Clay Beige’ (OC-11) is a good compromise, it has a hint of grey mixed with just enough of a linen tone to make it really versatile.




Spanish Revival bathrooms

Hey, it’s Doug.  We try to be really diligent about getting projects photographed soon after they’re completed–so that we can share them with you here on our blog, among other reasons!  Sometimes though a project will slip by us.  Such was the case with a renovation I designed in collaboration with Dungan Nequette Architects in 2008.  We’ve actually shared some exterior photos of  this Spanish Villa style home with you before–I decorated the exterior of the home for the holidays last year.  This weekend I noticed that the homeowner had posted some photos of the home on Facebook and she graciously has provided a few for us to share with you here.

Built in 1921 and located on the crest of Red Mountain on Key Circle–one of Birmingham’s most prominent and well known locations–I’d always admired this home so naturally I was excited when Dungan Nequette invited us to help design an interior renovation and addition project a couple of years ago.  As with many older homes, this one lacked a proper Master Suite.  A previous owner had already sacrificed an extra bedroom for closet space and in our plan we decided to take things a step further, converting a portion of that closet space into a new Master Bathroom.

The homeowner has an impressive art collection and an eye for colorful and eclectic design.  To reflect the spirit of her home and collection, I selected sparking glass tile which forms a wainscot that wraps the room.  Above the glass mosaic, which is capped in a bullnose stone trim that also frames the mirrors above the lavatories, large travertine slabs cover the upper wall.  We love tiling entire bathrooms–not only is it a practice that’s rooted in historic precedent (and appropriate to this 1920’s house) it also has the effect of creating a soothing and spa like atmosphere.  Rich chocolate-colored limestone provides a grounding visual element to the space.

On the wall opposite the vanity area, I designed a wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinets that provide storage for linens and out of season clothing.  Designed to resemble existing cabinetry found elsewhere in the house, these cabinets blur the line between old and new.  We like to include details that look as if they’ve always existed–even if brand new–to help maintain the history and character of an older home.  You can see in this photo that the room’s floor tile is the same as the upper wall–matching these two materials helped to keep the room from feeling too busy and it provided a neutral ground to the colorful glass tile on the wainscot.

One thing that this older home definitely didn’t have as a part of its original design was a walk-in steam shower–which we added to complete this Master Bath.  Located across from a freestanding tub set in a bay overlooking a private garden, this shower is a wonderful luxury.  The shower walls are again clad in large travertine slabs while the glass wainscot tile repeats in the shampoo niche.

The shuffling of walls necessary to accommodate this new Master Bath required us to renovate a secondary bath down the hall as well.  In this space I wanted to really incorporate some details that looked original to the house.  By wrapping the room in another tile wainscot–this time creamy glazed terra-cotta with a Moroccan inspired border–the space has all the 1920’s Spanish Revival character that defines this wonderful residence.

I have to admit I completely fell in love with the border tile the first time I saw it.  Part of Walker Zanger’s Ceramic Alhambra collection, I insisted to the homeowner that this tile was the perfect thing for this bathroom–which is adjacent to her son’s bedroom suite.  Luckily she agreed!

The natural terra cotta background of this tile is complemented with glazed cream and mossy green tones adding just enough color and character to this otherwise neutral space.

On the floor,  basketweave-patterned travertine relates back to the Master Bath, but in a scale more appropriate to this rather small bathroom.  Dark paint on the vanity cabinet adds a touch of masculinity to the space.  Dark colored grout also keeps the room from feeling too light and airy and let’s face it, it’s a smart choice for a bathroom intended for a young boy.

There are many more incredible spaces in this wonderful home, including a to die for pool!  You can see them all for yourself, because as it turns out this home is currently on the market.  You can view the listing here.

[room photos courtesy of the homeowner, tile via Walker Zanger]

mosaic tile floors

Hot and Hot's vintage mosaic tile floor dates back to the 1950's when Caddell's Creamery occupied the building.

The mosaic tile floor at Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club is almost as good as the  Tomato Salad there this time of year.  Almost. 

Hey Tracery fans, Doug here–I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Hot and Hot last night with some great new clients we’re excited to be working with.  Between good conversation and delicious food (prepared by our dear friend Chris Hastings, who’s also the Culinary Advisor at the SpringHouse Restaurant we designed at Lake Martin) I was reminded about how much I love the wonderful pattern and colors of the vintage mosaic tile floor at Hot and Hot.  In an otherwise neutral space the floor really stands out as a classic and energizing design element.

Mosaic tile is a pretty old school design trick.  In a lot of new houses today you might find 12×12, 18×18 or even larger tiles on the floor, but we really like to look to the past when selecting floor tile and frequently we find ourselves drawn back to mosaics.  Especially in smaller spaces like bathrooms or showers, mosaics add a classic touch to our work.  Here are a few of our favorites:

After college, I rented a 1940’s apartment in Mountain Brook Village for a few years and the bathroom floor was covered in a tiny pinwheel pattern mosaic of black and white marble.  Walker Zanger has reproduced this classic pattern perfectly in their Imperium collection, pictured here in Bianca Cararra.

Another really fun and vintage look is pennyround tile.  About the size of, you guessed it–a penny, this tile feels really old school when installed.  We love it on the floor but have installed it vertically on walls too.  Pennyrounds come in lots of fun colors and many feature variegated shades like the American Universal Corp tile pictured here.

We love 2″ herringbone tiles for bathroom or shower floors.  The size is still small enough to feel detailed and vintage but it large enough to not be busy visually.  Akdo’s Blue Lagos Hexagon is one of our favorites to use — the varied shades of charcoal grey found in the stone give great depth to this mosaic.

Another Akdo mosaic we can’t get enough of is their Calacutta Herringbone.  We think this tile is so elegant and chic!  Imagine how good this would look bordered with 12×12 Calacutta tiles to form a ‘rug’ in the center of a large bathroom.

Not all mosaics have to be neutral…Waterworks has several really fun colorways in their Penny Tile collection including this pastel blend that we think would be great in a bathroom for kids.

So what’s your favorite mosaic tile look?  Classic and crisp or fun and funky?