Tracery book give away!

It is that time!  Book giveaway time!  We are giving away 2 copies of our new Tracery book!  If you would like a chance to win a copy of the book this is what you need to do…. Just comment here what your favorite book is of all times!  It can be a novel, biography, coffee table book, etc.  Just tell us and then next Friday April 3rd we will pick 2 winners!  Good Luck!


tracery cover use this!!!

Bathrooms (random thoughts)

As I was getting ready this morning I was thinking about my favorite bathrooms we have designed over the years.  We are working on some new projects so I was running through past projects in my head.  I thought I would share some of my bathroom brain dump with y’all this morning…..

Thought 1.  This is one of our favorite tubs.  It is beautiful and our clients love it.  We have recently selected it for a new project.

Thought 2.  I love a tub in front of a window.

Thought 3.  I love herringbone marble tile.  (it is in the second photo above)

Thought 4.  I love a chandelier in a bathroom.

Thought 5.  I like island stone floors.  It is pretty and I love how it feels on your feet.

Thougth 6.  I love feet on bathroom cabinets.

Thought 7.  I love glass knobs in a bathroom.  They are so clean and pretty.

Thought 8.  I love a pretty mirror in a bathroom.

Thought 9. I love an antique piece of furniture as a sink base.

Thought 10.  I love subway tile with gray grout.

Thought 11.  I love open shelves in a bathroom.  It is a great place to stack towels, candles, and a vase of flowers.

Thought 12.  I love white, bright, clean bathrooms.

Thought 13.  Repeat thought 3… I love herringbone and chevron in marble.

Thought 14.  Always have a place for everything in a bath.  A place for your handtowel, a place for your robe, a place to store soaps and shampoos, etc.

Thought 15.  A full length mirror is always a nice addition in a bathroom.

Thought 16.  You can’t go wrong with white marble in a bath.  It is classic.

Hope you enjoyed my random bathroom thoughts on a Monday!



P.S.  I am obsessed with the new Atlas collection from Waterworks.  It will be coming to a Tracery project very soon in unlaquered brass(installed early 2013 so I can share it with you then).  I mean hello how pretty is this!  So this starts a new obsession for bathrooms.  Roman and Williams did an awesome job with the collection.

2012 Southern Living Idea House: Plumbing Sneak Peek

HiRise Faucet from Kohler

Enjoy the next piece to our puzzle-plumbing! It was so nice to get to work with Kohler who’s plumbing we have used in the majority of our projects here at Tracery. They were a great sponsor & had the perfect pieces to compliment the look & feel of this farmhouse renovation. The plumbing in the 2012 Southern Living Idea House in Senoia, Ga. is classic and timeless. Each of these pieces will stand the test of time just as this c. 1830’s home has.  Let’s hear from you-what would you like a glimpse of next?

Vault Sink from Kohler

Antique Rite-Temp Shower Trim from Kohler with Ceramic Dial Plate

Bancroft Comfort Height Toilet from Kohler


Vox Square Vessel from Kohler


Antique Towel Ring from Kohler

Bancroft Pedestal Lavatory from Kohler

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]

unlacquered brass

Hey, it’s Doug, I hope everyone is doing well today.  Having grown up in the 80’s, I have to admit the idea of using brass in an interior doesn’t immediately appeal to me.  It seems that every renovation project I’ve completed for the past few years we’ve removed brass fixtures and fittings and replaced them with nickel or bronze.  Lately, brass is making a comeback, though thankfully in a modified form from the shininess that defined the finish 25 years ago.

Unlacquered brass lacks the slick top layer that keeps the brass finish of the 1980’s looking bright forever.  Instead, unlacquered brass weathers over time and takes on a beautiful and warm patina.  The first time I was exposed to this finish was at a client’s suggestion a couple of years ago.  When we were designing the architectural interiors for the 11 Bonita project, our client kept insisting on “living finishes” which I was all for — until he asked for brass!  After some convincing I came around to his vision of brass faucets and door hardware that would weather naturally over time — with more tarnish in the areas that were touched the most and bits of shininess left around the edges.

The potfiller above the Lacanche Sully range in the 11 Bonita kitchen is of unlacquered brass.  I had the rivets on the custom steel rangehood we designed made from unlacquered brass as well to accentuate the detail.  Our client ordered the range with unlacquered knobs and pulls as well to complete the look.

You can see more unlacquered brass in the Pantry this same home — this time on the bridge faucet at the sink.  [photos by Colleen Duffley]

I mentioned last week in our post about Hamilton Sinkler’s return air grill that I specified for a home here in Mountain Brook we’re helping to renovate, that we were also replacing door hardware throughout the home.  The original 1920’s hardware is unlacquered brass and thankfully we’re able to replicate this finish for the replacement knobs we’ve selected.  Sometimes when the finish can’t be readily acquired, our very talented friends at Brandino Brass will have standard brass fixtures ‘dipped’ to strip the top layer of the finish away.

Speaking of unlacquered brass door hardware, check out this beautiful interior set–the Coleman from Rejuvenation.  Imagine how good it would look after a couple of years’ worth of use.

Waterworks has recently debuted a new collection called Henry and there are some wonderful unlacquered brass fixtures available in it.

Isn’t that good looking?  Besides the finish, this collection is such a great blend of tradition and clean lines.

Construction is about to begin on a bar that we designed in Chattanooga…we’ve designed an unlacquered brass shelving system which will run along the back bar and hold bottles of liquor.  It fits perfectly with the warm vintage feel we’re creating for this project — we’ll be sure to share photos of this feature when it’s installed.

So what do you think?  Are you ready to embrace brass again–albeit in a different feel from the slick look of the 80’s–or is it too soon for you to go back to the look?  We always love hearing what you think.

Hamilton Sinkler

Hey, it’s Doug.  Late this spring, a friend of a very good client of ours here in Mountain Brook contacted us.  The friend had been to a party at our client’s house and after seeing it she and her husband decided to contact us to do some work in their family’s newly purchased home (we’re so flattered and honored when things like that happen!)  Anyway, we’ve previously shared a couple of  ‘in progress’ images from the Master Bath we subsequently designed [here] for this family.  As with all renovation projects, the scope of our work expanded (and continues to as we all discover more things in the house that need fixing or improving).  Lately we’ve been working with our friends at Brandino Brass in Homewood, Alabama to swap out random door knobs in the home that had been replaced with bad 80’s brass substitutes.  Home Depot knobs have no place in a museum-quality 1929 English Tudor Entrance Hall, after all!

As I was leaving the other day, I observed that the return air vent in the side of the home’s front stair was an unfortunate painted metal grille.  Apparently in an attempt to blend the grille into the surrounding quarter-sawn oak paneling, someone had painted it a reddish brown color, which only made it more objectionable.  I immediately took note and went back to the office and e-mailed our client with a much more appropriate choice for such a prominent place in this spectacular home.

Enter Hamilton Sinkler, one of our top secret sources for amazing architectural hardware.

Based in New York City, Hamilton Sinkler manufactures an beautiful collection of products.  For an old house, like the project I’m speaking of here, Hamilton Sinkler’s products are great because they are of the same quality, proportion and finish as hardware found in historic homes.  This quality makes matching to and blending with existing items so much easier.  Perhaps even better, Hamilton Sinkler’s products can immediately elevate the quality of a  newly built space to that of a more established home.

How amazing is this cabinet hardware?  It’s truly jewelry for a space!  I am dying to use that hammered knob somewhere…

Details like robe hooks and toilet paper holders are easy to overlook, but when attended to properly they make a big difference.  Hamilton Sinkler carries some beautiful bathroom accessories–and as with all their hardware it’s available in several finishes.

Speaking of small details, grille covers and vents are another place where a sharp eye for detail can make the difference.  Hamilton Sinkler’s amazing cast brass and bronze vent covers are actually what first brought us to this company.

Of course that brings us to the item that inspired this entire post, Hamilton Sinkler’s Scroll Vent.

This is the item I recommended to our client for her Entrance Hall and it’s one that’s we’ve used in other residences as well.  The delicacy of the metalwork and the quality of the cast bronze (it comes in brass too) is really wonderful.  The addition of an element like this can be the perfect finishing touch that makes a space feel truly special.

You can see the complete product offering of Hamilton Sinkler [here].  All images courtesy of their website.

story of a range hood

When you have a 7 foot long, handmade French Lacanche range; a standard range hood just won’t do. This signature appliance was the jumping off point for the entire kitchen we designed for foodie and internet personality JB Hopkins and his partner when we undertook the renovation of their 1920’s Spanish Revival residence in Homewood, Alabama. Working in conjunction with architect and principal of our sister company Dungan Nequette Architects (and original co-founder of Tracery), Louis Nequette, Doug helped designed a range hood worthy of such an amazing piece of cooking equipment–and of the room at large.

When JB and his partner first bought this house, it was obvious it needed a lot of reworking to become the home they wanted. The original kitchen in the home was about three miles away (slight exaggeration) from any living space and was dark and small–definitely designed for household help in the 1920’s; and not for homeowners who love to cook and entertain. Louis imagined an entirely new space housed in an addition to the original structure.

Louis’ first vision for the space (dated 4-07), illustrated in a very early conceptual space below, was for perhaps the entire room to have a gothic-arch vaulted ceiling, with a dramatic range hood made of rustic wood planks.

Doug took Louis’ early vision for the room and began to interpret it into drawings in AutoCAD. He prepared several options–two of which are reflected below. The first is very similar to Louis’s early sketch (although the gothic vault had already been replaced with the flat ceiling and skylight that exist today). The second reflects a totally different vision, a more traditional tapered hood resting on corbeled brackets–much more European and expected.

The design that Louis, Doug and the homeowners eventually agreed upon is based upon the scalloped gothic arch version Doug drew based on Louis’ sketch, but rather than be crafted from planks of wood it’s made from sheets of blackened steel.

You can see in this construction drawing that Doug prepared, the final design for the range hood coming into shape. Once this drawing was ready (complete with dimensions verified to the actual space), we charged the execution of everyone’s vision to the very talented artist and metal worker Darren Hardman. Darren took Doug’s drawing and constructed the amazing range hood that graces the space today.

Made from sheets of blackened and clear coated steel with brass rivets, the range hood is absolutely the centerpiece of this kitchen and the perfect companion to the Lacanche range. Early on, JB Paige and Doug toyed with the idea of making the range (and also the island) a color–pale greyish purple and light green were both discussed–but in the end we all decided the black was the most classic and distinctive choice. It’s perfect with the blackened steel isn’t it?

A few details to note in the above photograph: Louis Nequette likes to add an extra stud and frame a low wall behind ranges. Here you can see this technique displayed perfectly, with a handy ledge for utensils and spices within easy reach of the cooking surface. The entire inside of the range area is covered in terra cotta bricks, layed in a herringbone pattern and stained dark. Just above the point of the arch, two Broan commercial hood inserts are installed between stainless steel trim to properly vent the massive cooksurface. Halogen pin lights light the inside of the cavernous surround. A Rohl pot filler is always handy in the wall beyond–JB requested unlaquered brass for all of the faucets in the kitchen which over time are acquiring a wonderful patina.

Want to learn even more about this amazing kitchen? Check out JB’s blog where he’s documented nearly every square inch of 11 Bonita, and be sure to read this post which discusses the Lacanche range in even more detail.