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Lakeview Modern Style at Cashio’s Meatball Market

Lakeview modern style at Cashio's Meatball Market
Photo by Jean Allsopp via Appleseed Workshop

We’ve said before that Cashio’s Meatball Market is no grandma restaurant, and that still holds true. But that’s not to say it’s absent older influences. In their blog post on the space, design/build firm Appleseed Workshop details its “eclectic mix of styles,” from modern lines to a Sicilian palette. The overall effect is something we think of as Lakeview Modern style, a blend of design eras for a thoroughly fresh feel.

The most established strip of Lakeview’s entertainment district–an L-shaped stretch down 29th and onto 7th Avenue South–is a tour through the Mediterranean-style Cashio’s building, the craftsman air of Slice and the Tudor timbers of the Avon Theater. Add in the colorful horizontal lines of 29 Seven, and there’s a distinctly modern bent to the neighborhood as well.

It could almost be too modern, were it not for places like Cashio’s adding a sense of cohesion. That’s why we’re looking to it as a lesson in bringing Lakeview attitude to historic homes in surrounding neighborhoods–like Highland Park, Avondale, or even the downtown Loft District. Here’s how:

 

Choose marble

It’s not the workhorse that you get with a stone like granite, but Cashio’s proves just how versatile marble can be. From modern wall applications to classic cafe tabletops, Appleseed identifies the native Alabama stone as a key ingredient for an all-new space rooted in tradition.

 

Embrace texture

Smooth surfaces would bring plenty of mod attitude but not enough Lakeview charm. Cashio’s splits the difference, breaking up its vinyl seating with tufting on the banquette back and nailhead bar stool trim.

 

Be bold

Besides an eye-catching tomato red, the space is defined by a single graphic element: an anthropomorphized ball of spaghetti. Its mirror application defies the logic of a traditional frame, but its black-and-white palette keeps things neat. Choose your focal point, in other words, then run with it.

 

Style Spotlight: Revelator Coffee Downtown

revelator coffee downtown

revelator coffee downtown

We’re taking a look at some neighborhood style icons this week, exploring what makes them work so well and what lessons they can offer their neighbors. Up today is Revelator Coffee downtown, and check back Wednesday for a look at Cashio’s Meatball Market in Lakeview and Saturday for Rojo in Highland Park.

 

Revelator Coffee has seen a major style evolution over its two years of operation, shifting from a dramatically modern space to a more stylishly homey one. It’s less grandly modern, more cozily mid-mod. Still very stylish, but in a way that’s more accessible. With the rapid expansion of the downtown loft district, we think Revelator’s an excellent muse when developing your own open-plan loft style. To help, we’ve put together a list of Revelator style cues.

 

Let small tables travel.

Multi-purpose tables get pressed into heavy use here. Some of the same laptop tables make an appearance in side chat arrangements, in fact, as in Sky Castle’s lounge-y space. There’s also a clever nesting coffee table that’ll hold a standard spread of books and coffee with a smaller pull out section when you need more surface area.

 

Get creative with seating.

Revelator relies heavily on a series of comfy armchairs in their mastery of flexible seating. Two are in a pretty traditional grouping with the low-slung leather couch. Two others frame the back of the dining area, made purposeful by an elegantly arched floor lamp. The final two take up residence by the door, creating an extra place to sit and chat while dressing up what would otherwise be dead entryway space.

 

Keep lighting in focus.

Revelator has one big, statement light in the space. It’s a grand one, too, made grander since there’s nothing else competing with it. Simple, linear track lighting brightens the counters and prep space, with framing colors that blend into the ceiling paint choices.

 

Take advantage of natural nooks.

Revelator’s rectangular communal table, which is basically a nice mid-century dining table, sits along its bumped-out window bay. The result feels very natural as a defined “space” and takes advantage of great natural light for both eating and functional work surface.

 

Give the kitchen new friends.

It’s natural, and in many ways practical, for your dining table to back up to your breakfast bar. There are clear benefits, like natural overflow seating with room to eat. But unless you regularly use it that way–and most of us don’t–you might end up feeling more connected to the rest of your home’s (and guest’s) activity if the living area is closest to the kitchen. Revelator has let their sofa ease toward the dining table for a sense of separate zoning that preserves visual flow.

 

 

Modern Dreams at Public Office Woodlawn

public office woodlawn

public office woodlawn

Are you ever drawn in by the siren song of pale wood and natural light that appears so often in Dwell Magazine? It’s lovely to look at, of course, but sometimes you also want to visit. And possibly get a style souvenir. You can now do both at the Public Office in Woodlawn.

Another project of Armand Margjeka, Public Office extends his artistic eye from Open Shop to a neighboring corner. It also offers an unlikely mix of skincare, candles, camping mugs, and cutting-edge coffee brewing. It is, in a word, unique. In a way we can’t help but love.

There’s something about this little corner of Woodlawn that’s like shopping or eating in someone’s very stylish home. In a way we’d almost expect to go with the loft-y atmosphere and creative minds downtown. Instead, it’s in Woodlawn that folks like Margjeka and the Johnsons of Club Duquette have carved out public homes to purvey some of their personal favorites.

It’s a new take on specialty shop, defined, as we’ve mentioned before, as much by personality as product mission. And it works in part because of Woodlawn’s location adjacent to arts-minded communities in Avondale and Crestwood.

Visiting Public Office, though, feels like a design moment. As though you should take notes for your next home project. And maybe you should. (We might have.) It’s an exercise in modern character, not just scarcity, like the European approach to overhauling an older building.

Instead of reclaimed and industrial, it’s natural and bright. It feels finished, which is a different sort of complement to older architectural styles and a nice alternative to rustic reclaimed trends. We’ve rarely met walls of shelving we didn’t love, and Public Office’s are no exception.

There’s a movement afoot in Woodlawn. One less rooted in reclaiming a grand past and more in imagining a small-batch future. Not an either/or proposition, mind, but a well-crafted addition.

 

This is part III of our weekend in Woodlawn series. Check out Monday’s post on Woodlawn Cycle Cafe brunch, and Wednesday’s post on Open Shop

Open Shop Woodlawn’s Artistic Development Vision

open shop woodlawn

open shop woodlawn

If Winslet & Rhys is like shopping an art museum, Open Shop Woodlawn is retail as modern art installation. From the irony of its exterior design to the studied androgyny of its wares, there’s something incredibly cerebral about the Open Shop shopping experience.

Owner Armand Margjeka also owns personal care/coffee supply offshoot Public Office and co-owns Woodlawn Cycle Cafe, yet he’s opted against an obvious common brand. Where the cafe’s interior is a window-lined white, Open Shop’s is deliberately dark and devoid of natural light.

But instead of a goth-inspired den of depression, the darkness is an interesting shift in focus. Like shopping an artist’s closet rather than a standard boutique. It also adds an air of gritty masculinity to the atmosphere.

Items range from minimalist backpacks to art books, collarless blazers to chunky wool sweaters. It’s technically menswear, but the simple lines and classic motifs of the button downs and sweaters could just as easily attract female customers. In fact, that was the conversation we overheard at the cash register–that female customers end up with some of the store’s thick wool sweaters.

And it’d be hard not to envy the wonderfully sculptural approach to clothing display. There’s no making your way through strategically scattered clothing racks. Instead, large oriental rugs and a sofa in the perfect shade of chartreuse occupy the shop’s center. The hanging racks and shelving along the walls are so stripped down you can’t help but focus on an individual item’s artistry.

If anything’s emblematic of Woodlawn’s hip business energy, it might be Open Shop. Because this burgeoning district is about a shift in focus. About a viscerally different, yet wonderfully charming, idea of how development can look. In a way, in might be the most personally artistic neighborhood in the city, because it’s so full of individually unique visions.

 

This is part II of our weekend in Woodlawn series. Check out Monday’s post on Woodlawn Cycle Cafe brunch, and check back Saturday for our final post on Public Office. 

 

Understated Arts at Woodlawn Cycle Cafe Brunch

woodlawn cycle cafe brunch

woodlawn cycle cafe brunch

Our love of brunch is well-documented, but as a meal, sometimes it’s frankly too time-limited. If nothing says weekend quite like brunch, why do most restaurants serve it only one day per week? Clearly simpatico, Woodlawn Cycle Cafe brunch is an all-weekend affair.

We can’t say what exactly they’ll offer when you go. That’s the beauty of a rotating menu, after all. But there will likely always be some variation on the toastie and salad combo, in keeping with their understated arts. On a visit in early November, we fell hard for a fried egg, cheese, and bacon version built around a sweet potato biscuit and topped with pepper jelly.

The biscuit was tender beyond measure and flaky only where it needed to be. Basically, it’s a biscuit sandwich you’ll want to eat with a knife and fork. And we say that for informational purposes only, not as a complaint. A hit of heat from the pepper jelly offset any added sweetness from the biscuit or any heaviness from bacon and cheese. It was a nearly perfect breakfast bite.

Add in some bright sunlight in a whitewashed space plus one of our all-time favorite lattes, and getting out of bed on the weekend starts to look appealing. The crowd ebbs and flows, so don’t be alarmed if it seems busy when you arrive. It’ll settle out and leave plenty of room for a leisurely meal.

But what would brunch be without a bit of walking around afterward? A handful of small shops in the same block–Open Shop Woodlawn, Public Office, and Club Duquette–offer post-meal options. Their related aesthetic and unique product lines make brunch at Woodlawn Cycle Cafe not just a meal but an event. And if your Saturday doesn’t come together the way you’d planned, you can always try again Sunday. That’s the beauty of Woodlawn’s brunch weekend.

 

Check back Wednesday and Saturday for posts on Open Shop and Public Office, so you can plan your weekend in Woodlawn.

 

Avondale: Front Porch Railing Inspiration Lives Here

front porch railing inspiration

front porch railing inspiration

There’s a lot happening around Avondale Park. Besides the gothic grandeur of Avondale United Methodist Church, there’s Parkside, the public library, and the slew of hip new options around Fancy’s on Fifth. So you’d be forgiven if you’ve failed to really track the residential architecture nearby. But you really should. Besides the cottage charm along this stretch, the area is also rife with front porch railing inspiration.

We get that that may not seem like a thing. After all, we’re used to seeing two styles: classic vertical balusters or the modern architecture influence of horizontal railings. What becomes clear from older homes in Avondale is the wealth of options that’s really available, not to mention the amount of pop some humble wood can produce. For instance:

There’s the alternating ladder style–almost like a brickwork pattern but with negative space–that on its own almost seems too mod for a historic home. Paired with some simpler, classic trim along the porch roof, though, it makes perfect, charming sense. And if you’re trying to marry classic architecture with mod furniture influences, it would be a nice way to carry the theme outdoors.

Then there’s the Victorian feel of a neighboring porch. Instead of Stickley simplicity, it has a hint of prim gingerbread. The result is a lovely balance of sturdy bungalow scale and almost lacy delicacy. Fish scale shakes along the front gable tie in to the curvier texture without creating a look that’s overblown.

Another classic, tailored look is the wide “X” design down the street, which gives the porch a nice open feel. It’s less practical for the safety of kids and pets, but it’s a lovely look for the right lifestyle.

There are even lessons in adjusting the scale of a classic balustrade design for added interest. Extra-wide intervals make a deep porch feel more sunny and open. Extra-narrow intervals add to the petite appeal of the tidy cottage next door.

Choose your own porch adventure, in other words, and know you have more options than you may have realized.

 

Exterior Inspiration from Five Points South Historic Homes

Five Points South historic homes

Five Points South historic homes

One of the things we love most about Five Points South historic homes is the wealth of color. It’s a little like living with the everyday version of Painted Ladies, which feels good for the creative soul. But no matter your home’s era, there are ideas to be had here.

If you love the idea of true color scheme but have trouble visualizing beyond white, wandering through Five Points South is your ideal starting point.

The architecture, full of Victorian and American Foursquare examples, is what makes color so vibrant in these areas. Victorian styles, especially, make use of bold contrast colors to highlight intricate trim details. And since they frequently include a scheme of three or four distinct shades, they offer a broad range of palette ideas.

Generally speaking, two of those shades will be in the same family, likely the same paint card. That makes for a simple way to translate elaborate historic color schemes into a more subdued plan.

But even on simpler midcentury homes, there’s room for some exterior paint fun. B-metro featured a Homewood craftsman recently with its window woodwork painted turquoise. So feel free to pull a similarly bright hue to accent more minimal architecture.

What kind of colors are you likely to find? Greens are popular, from the fresh minty and evergreen combo of the Oasis Counseling Center to softer shades of sage and juniper nearby. Whether in brickwork or trim accents, reds play a starring role.

One of our favorite simple palettes is an overcast pale blue with clean white trim and a rosy red door. There’s also a lovely pale gray with charcoal trim and buttery accents. Both of which feel highly accessible for less bohemian neighborhoods.

So next time you’re headed for Dreamland, take a Southside winding road ‘till inspiration strikes.

 

Louis Nequette’s Downtown Design Plan

downtown design

The thing we love about Nequette Architecture & Design is their ability to stake out a timeless middle ground in their design projects. They eschew the starkly modern but refuse to be constrained by the past. And as they renovate their own two buildings on Second Avenue North, we asked owner Louis Nequette to tell us about their downtown design process.

 

Allocating Space

We worked with Nequette to acquire the two former Harold’s furniture buildings, which are more or less across the street from his current rented space. It’ll be a classic loft district mixed-use project — ground-floor retail topped with loft living — with a twist: the firm will be the building’s penthouse resident.

“Our plan was not to put that floor on there until we climbed up on the roof and got a load of the 360-degree amazing views,” Nequette said. “After seeing that we were inspired and wanted to create a place where we could do what we do every day with as much inspiration as possible.”

The building’s thick industrial walls have enough heft to support an addition, and the one the firm has planned should be stunning. “There’ll be a lot of glass,” Nequette said, to optimize the views.

 

Weighing Value

The building dates from 1889, according to documents Nequette found, which adds a layer of history to the design consideration. Still, Nequette said the process isn’t far off from any kind of major renovation: “It’s about walking through and finding the redeeming qualities of, ‘Where’s the magic? What’s special about the existing building?’

“Sometimes there’s nothing, and it gets demolished completely. Sometimes there’s so much that it really warrants it being a historical preservation kind of project. And then most cases it’s kind of in the middle, and that’s how this one was,” he said.

Residential units were a natural next step, since the minimal interior framing of a warehouse “makes for a great loft kind of situation.” As for the penthouse addition, Nequette bucked the trend of adding “a modern box on a traditional building.” (He says it’s often a good approach, though, that “creates a lot of interest to clash those two styles together.”)

The deciding factor was the addition’s footprint. “We felt because we wanted to pull the top floor up to the front elevation, that that would look more strange and out of place and not in keeping with the character of 2nd Avenue,” he said. “As opposed to doing what we’re doing, which is take a much more traditionally-inspired approach to that design.

 

Modernizing Character

“We’ve done both at different times, but in this case, it calls for trying to keep the whole building in character.”

What does that character look like? Neatly-framed windows that emerge naturally from the building’s existing roofline, with a bay window bumping out over the second building. A hint of modern tension in its asymmetry, but nothing that would give you pause.

Looking at the drawings, we were struck by how natural the addition seemed. Which is how we feel about most Nequette Architecture & Design projects. That middle ground we mentioned? It’s a way of designing that feels like it’s always been there, and a result we always love.

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016: A Year in Posts

One of the big questions we ask ourselves for each blog post is “What does this say about the neighborhood?” It’s the guiding editorial principle we use on the spots everyone’s talking about as well as the ones sometimes overlooked. As we round out the year, it seemed fitting to look through our posts by neighborhood and pick the single most representative one. These are the posts we think tell you most about eight major Birmingham neighborhoods in 2016 and, just maybe, where they’re headed in the new year.

From game-changing openings to quieter expressions of community, here are the highlights.

 

Avondale’s Live/Work Expansion

birmingham neighborhoods in 2016 avondale

“We’re so used to thinking about Avondale in terms of its food and entertainment options that we forget the ways it’s also increasingly becoming a business district. Already there are some retail options and small business locations, but we can’t help thinking the new MAKEbhm space is Avondale’s defining business moment.”

 

Crestwood’s Community Character

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016 Crestwood

“It’s that community atmosphere that stands out most in Crestwood’s neighborhood branding. Crestwood is less associated with hip amenities than places like Avondale, or downtown’s Loft District. Instead, it’s a great community with close access to other great parts of the city.”

 

Crestline’s Choice Location

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016 Crestline

Crestline is a best-of-both worlds kind of area, and that’s what we’ve tried to capture in siting our newest community development. The Gladstone location — 4447 Montevallo Road — lies between the neat single-family streets of Crestline Park and the everyday essentials available in the neighboring Crestwood/Irondale corridor. It’s convenient to the big-box resources of the Montclair Road Publix and the independent gems of Dunston Avenue.”

 

Downtown Loft District’s Landmark Re-Openings

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016 Downtown Loft District

Commentary on the Redmont suggests this renovation is more than just an exciting commercial project in the city center. It’s a clue to the city Birmingham once was and, we hope, an omen for what it’s becoming again.’The Redmont Hotel is important because it tells us what a particular era, the ’20s, was like in our city,’ Patricia King, then serving as a preservation consultant and as development coordinator for Operation New Birmingham, told the Birmingham Business Journal in 2000. ‘We know it was a boom time, and the richness of the hotel supports that.’ ”

 

Five Points’s Easy Patio Vibe

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016 Five Points South

With its casual vibe and blues soundtrack, Delta Blues seems destined to be a neighborhood hangout, like the ultra-Southern version of everything we love about neighboring J. Clyde. We can imagine more than a few warm evenings spent on their patio, catching up with friends over baskets of hot tamales and bottles of cold beer. ”

 

Lakeview’s Retro Future

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016 Lakeview

“The restaurant describes itself as a place “giving a nod to the past while shaping the future,” and we’re inclined to agree. With its throwback name and place in Lakeview’s premiere mixed-use development — 29 Seven — it has feet firmly planted in both local lore and present progress.”

 

Parkside’s Public Symbols

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016

In so many ways the Parkside area defines Birmingham right now, from its new construction to its existing transformation, its corporate conveniences and Smallbox startups. Baseball season at Regions Field is the epitome of Birmingham in the summer, and now Railroad Park is offering a quintessential winter balance.”

 

Woodlawn’s Modest Transformation

Birmingham Neighborhoods in 2016 Woodlawn

There’s also something very European about the idea of a modest cafe offering truly interesting food. That’s what we see as the cafe’s real strength. And it feels at home in the artsy, up-and-coming area around REV Birmingham’s office. There’s something a little under-the-radar about Woodlawn, where truly exciting things — mixed-income housing, musical hubs, an urban farm — are quietly boosting the area.”

Our Top 3 Birmingham Development Trends for 2016

“Birmingham’s housing market has been on a hot streak in 2016,” reported the Birmingham Business Journal earlier this month. And Alabama Center for Real Estate graph shows just how dramatically the market has picked up, with home sales staying relatively flat after 2011 until a big jump in the past year. But there’s more to the marketplace than macro growth patterns, and today we’re looking at Birmingham development trends that affect the market.

We’ve narrowed it down to three top trends that are impacting our city’s real estate climate:

 

National Buzz

Birmingham has made headlines–in a good way–over the last several years. From Avondale’s anointing as the state’s Brooklyn in 2015 to Birmingham’s spot on the Travel Channel’s list of “The Next Great Destinations” for 2016. Just recently, we earned the number 14 spot on Zagat’s list of “The 26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016.” In fact, the piece named Lakeview’s Ovenbird “one of the biggest openings in all of the South.” And of the eight restaurants name-checked in the piece, all but one–Real & Rosemary–was within Birmingham proper. Like us, the Zagat folks love El Barrio, Fancy’s on Fifth, and Saigon Noodle House.

 

Historic redevelopment

One of our biggest achievements as a revitalizing city is the adaptive reuse of historic spaces. In cases like Railroad Park and this year’s addition of Rotary Trail, we’ve successfully turned a forgotten landscape into an enchanting urban greenspace. In those of the Redmont Hotel or the nearly-finished Pizitz Building and Thomas Jefferson Tower, we’ve taken a storied past and reinterpreted it for a modern city. This phenomenon isn’t new to 2016, but the year has boasted some high-profile progress.

 

Cosmopolitan living

Birmingham has long featured some trappings of a thriving city scene–culinary and cultural resources among them–but less glamorous resources have often lagged behind. Besides the many mixed-use projects opening this year and next, we’re witnessing complementary features that make full city living possible. Besides entertainment and green spaces, we’re seeing transit options like Uber and Zyp, and we can nearly boast of a downtown Publix.

 

From style to convenience, there’s really never been a better time to #liveinBham. If you’re ready to make the move, contact us today.