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Category: Avondale

Inspiration for Your Kitchen Refresh at Avondale’s Winslet & Rhys

inspiration for your kitchen refresh

inspiration for your kitchen refresh

It’s a common problem, particularly in older homes: the need to update a tired kitchen space with the constraints of a post-purchase budget. Or, the desire to maintain some original features at war with the need for a better functioning kitchen. We’ve found inspiration for your kitchen refresh with simple, crafted tweaks à la Avondale’s Winslet & Rhys.

The store’s kitchenette is a lesson in modern ideas coexisting with older ones. It’s Avondale’s last-century charm filtered through a spare design eye. And it absolutely works.

Here’s how, in just three steps:

 

Paint. Paint. Paint.

Winslet & Rhys’s cabinets are new and streamlined, but what really makes them special is the color. The lovely deep, true blue of the shop’s base cabinets would spruce up existing cabinetry — either of the too-worn original or the used-to-be updated variety. A good paint job truly goes a long way.

 

Embrace wood.

It may seem counterintuitive, especially since we just suggested paint, but hear us out. If you’re facing sad laminate countertops or tile that’s seen better days, consider replacing it with wood. This Old House has a whole feature on the practical considerations. Short of marble, though, wood is probably your best blending of modern tastes and classic materials. And with its lower price point, you may have enough budget left for a modern waterfall edge à la Winslet & Rhys. Just bear in mind that deeper wood stains will look more old school, and pale woods err more Scandinavian modern.

 

Flex your storage space.

Open shelving is a trend with staying power, but Winslet & Rhys uses large-scale pegboard for a clever twist. Replace uppers with open pegboard shelving for a solution that feels charmingly crafted, not to mention flexible. As an added bonus, the pegboard anchor is also a stylish substitute for a standard tile backsplash.

 

 

Urban Style: Bar Stools With Big Impact

satellite urban style bar stools

satellite urban style bar stools

There are lots of ways to personalize your home with big renovations, or even custom installation work. But what if you want big style, no professionals required? For that, we suggest interesting accessories that stand out in streamlined spaces. One key example for urban style: bar stools with big impact.

The sheer power of repetition makes it an effective style trick. When you have three or four of something, after all, it tends to command notice. Be warned that a great bar stool rarely comes cheap, but it is an easy and portable style choice.

And you need not look through decor magazines or even the rabbit hole of Pinterest. We’ve simplified matters by drawing on our own local inspiration. We’ve looked at ideas around town and found these bar stool examples for your kitchen style game.

 

Downtown:

Paramount’s bar stools are unusually linear, a heavy metal frame supporting a pale rectangle of wood. Part of their job is not to overshadow the more flamboyant automotive references in the space, but they’re well designed in their own right. We can easily imagine them adding a bit of industrial edge to a nearby downtown loft.

Harvest plays up the Redmont Hotel’s architectural gravitas with a smart variation on a classic bar stool shape. A single cutout punctuates an upholstered backrest for the custom tailoring of the stool world.

 

Lakeview:

Trimtab Brewing Company’s stools bring an automotive age to mind, befitting the former neighborhood of the Barber Motorsports Museum. The smoothly engineered curves, chrome bases, and integrated armrests remind us of great American cars. They’re sleek but road-tested.  

Slice Pizza & Brewhouse combines the retro feel of red vinyl with a sleek sculptural base. The color shines against a reclaimed wood bar and ties in nicely with other new restaurant openings in the area like Cashio’s Meatball Market and Babalu Tacos and Tapas. The base offers a place for the eye to linger and a nice reminder of the area’s recent industrial past.

 

Avondale:

Satellite plays up its space age styling with the stool version of a modern molded plastic chair. Long wooden legs angle out from the base with simple black supports. It’s a dose of nostalgia that still feels fresh, much like its 41st Street scene.

Hot Diggity Dogs has the most retro offering, which works for a brick-and-mortar hot dog stand in this neighborhood of casual nostalgia. The chrome stools with vinyl seats are a familiar shape with room for personalization.

 

 

Future Fun at Avondale’s Satellite Coffee Bar

satellite coffee bar

satellite coffee bar

With a big brother like Saturn, the Satellite coffee bar side is bound to get overlooked. It’s bright but not flashy, a lounge rather than a party. But Satellite has built its own quirky atmosphere beyond its bar and coffee shop components. It offers something no place in Avondale does, blending the area’s nostalgic bent with a futuristic spirit.

Satellite is not your average Avondale joint. Its finishes lean smooth and its only exposed brick is exterior. It resides in a foodie neighborhood yet sells foodstuffs like gourmet doughnuts prepared by outside vendors. On the surface, it shouldn’t work, but it respects the one most important Avondale essence: a sense of fun.

From its rocket trash cans to its video games, its Tang-based frozen cocktail to its Sunday cereal brunch, it satisfies your inner child and the adult you’ve become. That’s the basis of hipster culture, after all, whether in handmade pop tarts or Moscow Mule mugs. And Satellite is one more example of why Avondale won the statewide “Brooklyn” title.

Satellite also fills a pretty practical entertainment need, in the end: a place with fun cocktails that more than accommodates the non-drinker. Your pregnant best friend may want to hang out after hours, after all. Or you may want to get your kid a craft soda while you enjoy something more adult. Satellite is just the place.

Its more traditional coffee shop function–fueling the side-hustle–may become less important as the MAKEbhm co-working space evolves, but it’s equipped nevertheless. The shop’s website boasts a bar with integrated charging stations. More important is the air of gleeful creativity, from space-age decor to shared Saturn ethos. It’s a place waiting for your next big idea to land.

In the meantime, we love the Stumptown coffee, and we’ve heard great things about that Tang cocktail. It’s a Steva Casey creation, after all.

 

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.

 

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.”

Big Spoon Creamery Storefront to Round Out Avondale Palate

big spoon creamery storefront

big spoon creamery storefront

We fell for Big Spoon Creamery over scoops of green tea ice cream, and our feelings deepened over pints of Rocky Ridge Road. We catch their truck, Bessie Blue, around town from UAB to Pepper Place, but it’s nice to know that they’ve finally found a non-mobile home. The Big Spoon Creamery storefront will hit our beloved MAKEbhm complex in Avondale this spring, in a just-right real estate fit.

Big Spoon’s ice cream is everything we love about Birmingham right now, in a pint-size package. Or sandwich, depending on your preferences. Its flavors capture the essence of local food seasons plus the more adventurous palate of Birmingham’s urban foodie culture.

The same could be said of Avondale, which encapsulates the blend of urban ideas and Southern charm that helps define this Birmingham moment. It’s a new guard with a long heritage, much the way Big Spoon owners Ryan and Geri-Martha O’Hara cut their teeth under Frank Stitt.

The Stitt lineage is something Avondale has in common with Birmingham’s downtown food scene, and we often ponder how best to differentiate the two. What we’ve settled on before–and what we’ll turn back to now–is Avondale’s food truck spirit. Ice cream trucks are some of the original food trucks, after all.

But Big Spoon’s new digs are more than just an extension of Avondale’s restaurant scene. An October Weld piece talked about MAKEbhm’s contribution to Birmingham’s “maker movement,” and we’ve talked about how its spanking-new space may be defining Avondale’s trajectory. Having Big Spoon in house is the perfect confluence of “maker” and foodie culture, the neighborhood in a nutshell. Or cone. (We couldn’t resist.)

And on the off chance you’re still in need of a last-minute Christmas gift, we humbly suggest Big Spoon. Gift cards are sold in person, which makes it too late for that. But an online order for mini ice cream sandwiches is cheer that lasts throughout the year. At least what’s left of it.

Happy holidays, all!

Yellowhammer Creative Draws Avondale’s modern heritage

yellowhammer creative

yellowhammer creative

Remember that time Keith Richards wore a Heart of Dixie t-shirt? Avondale’s Yellowhammer Creative was responsible, at least originally, for that moment of Alabama love and certainly fittingly. The design/print shop articulates a modern heritage vibe fitting for a new Birmingham.

Their deceptively simple designs feature bright colors and bold graphics, bringing a modern eye to classic Birmingham symbols. But the letterpress and screen printing methods keeps their work honest. Instead of crisp digital lines, it gives their work an endearing imperfection.

Full of nostalgic inspiration, their work explores what we were to help define who we are now. There are the vintage-inspired posters for the Alabama Theatre’s film series–quite possibly the best local brand collaboration–and the Vulcan items in its museum gift shop.

That emphasis on local landmarks makes Yellowhammer Creative our go-to for gifts to out-of-towners. Our recent visitor from the other Birmingham even showed off her own Yellowhammer tote on Instagram.

It’s fitting that Yellowhammer is in Avondale, which went from no one’s radar to “Birmingham’s Brooklyn.” It’s at the heart of the indie scene that’s charming a nation with a Southern-fried hipsterism that reads more laid back. Avondale’s bearded and letterpressed, sure, but less precious than your Williamsburgs or Portlandias. It’s low-profile but earning plenty of press.

After all, Yellowhammer Creative is only part of Avondale’s modern heritage vibe. Post Office Pies, Rowe’s Service Station, and Fancy’s on Fifth all tip their hats at the Birmingham that once was, refusing to relegate the past to forgotten history.

Its independent storefront is small, but that’s also fitting for a neighborhood to host Box Row. The space is simple stacks, a rolling rack or two, and lots of poster wall art in a plain mid-century building on what will surely be Avondale’s next big push.

But these guys are all over the city, and we’re glad to have them. In fact, we’ll soon have them as neighbors at a grandly renovated Pizitz Building downtown.

Small-Town Charm with Urban Access at Sheppard’s Pet Supply

sheppard's pet supply
Image via Sheppard’s Pet Supply

Natural pet food and spoil-your-pet treats are among the many things that used to require an over-the-mountain trip. Then Sheppard’s Pet Supply came along, combining east side convenience and small business charm. Its new Avondale location still has those things, plus easier access and, says owner Will Sheppard, room for twice the stock.

A mere half-mile west of its old Crestwood North location, Shepherd’s Pet Supply is the first new tenant at the Family Dollar shopping center now owned by the same trio as the Shoppes of Crestwood. He’ll be joined by others, including Tropicaleo and an aerial pilates studio, owner Will Sheppard told us. He’s already been joined by a rescue shop cat named Declan.

We have a soft spot for small businesses with resident pets, and Sheppard’s Pet Supply is no exception. Declan is beautiful and friendly and inclined to spread out across entire patches of sunny floor. He’s also been known to use the store’s shelves and open storage lofts as what one Instagram user called “the world’s largest cat condo.”

Sheppard himself is just as charming, combining social media and pop culture references with old-fashioned most-hours customer service. If he doesn’t stock what you’re looking for, may be able to order it for you. And if changes in hours threaten your pet’s food supply, he’ll work out a delivery arrangement. He’s the guy you’d happily have a beer with. And you can–this is the only pet store we know of with an in-house kegerator.

It’s worth following the shop’s Instagram feed for a reminder of how much small-town community our urban neighborhoods can offer. Sheppard’s new location, at the crossroads between Avondale and Crestwood, is one more sign of how those areas are beginning to overlap. And what a charming, better-than-suburban area Birmingham’s east side is turning out to be.

Neighborhood Cheer: Your Birmingham Gift Guide

a very birmingham holiday
birmingham gift guide
Window by Java Lewis at John’s City Diner

There are some great gifts to celebrate collective Birmingham pride–in fact, we rounded some up in our very first guide. But what of those who’ve cultivated their own corner of the city? They might like a more specific option. So we’ve put together a list of locally-inspired gifts we think are most emblematic of some hot neighborhoods right now: A Birmingham gift guide for the urban dweller.

Avondale:

Its biggest claim to fame may be the 41st Street restaurant & bar scene, but we think MAKEbhm is this year’s big neighborhood shift. Gift your own piece of that creative energy with a piece of MAKE resident Susan Gordon Pottery. From sculpted bowls to Magic City ornaments, there’s something for everyone. And if you want to support two Avondale businesses with one gift, Winslet & Rhys stocks select pieces.

Parkside:

The season’s big entertainment option is ice skating in Railroad Park. And with a run that extends through mid-January, December gifting is still feasible. But the most bated-breath stretch of this year has been watching the downtown Publix take shape. Its opening has been delayed until sometime in January, reported AL.com. But there’s nothing to celebrate the neighborhood’s practical convenience like a Publix gift card.

Lakeview:

Redmont Vodka appeared in ABC stores this spring and served as Sloss Fest’s “official spirit,” reported AL.com. Lakeview’s entertainment options have grown leaps and bounds this year–Sky Castle, Ghost Train, Scene among them–and Redmont’s branding strikes the perfect balance between the area’s understated exteriors and its party potential. They’ve also released a Cotton Gin, which we can’t help but love.

Downtown Loft District:

Between the Lyric Theatre and the Redmont Hotel, it’s been a restorative year downtown. There’s more on the way, of course, with the Pizitz Building and the Thomas Jefferson Tower, but why not celebrate what we’ve achieved so far? Tickets to one of the Lyric’s varied shows–Russian ballet and Ben Folds are both on the calendar for 2017–are a thoughtful way to experience this now-functioning beauty. Or commit to treating your giftee to drinks at the Redmont’s rooftop bar, appropriately named The Roof, as another experience-over-stuff option. And tickets to New Year’s Eve at the Redmont make for easy wrapping.

Modern Home Style in Avondale with Winslet & Rhys

modern home style in avondale with winslet & rhys

modern home style in avondale with winslet & rhys

Avondale’s collection of charming cottages, particularly around its 41st Street corridor, presents a common design problem: blending modern ideas and classic design. And while it’s possible to rock fully modern interiors while maintaining a historic facade, we think there’s another approach that’s worth a try. For modern home style in Avondale, we suggest a visit to Winslet & Rhys.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that we love Avondale’s Winslet & Rhys as a source for well-designed purchases. But we also love it as an overall design concept. In fact, we think its handcrafted approach is the must-see inspiration for modern home style in Avondale. And to help apply it in your own space, here’s our Winslet & Rhys style cheat sheet:

Gentle color:

From the graphic peach accent wall to the true blue cabinetry, color gives this modern destination an old-fashioned sense of welcome. So consider adding large swatches of saturated hues to find your balance of original charm and modern touch.

Collected approach:

Classic homes have a comforting rhythm made up of repeating materials and matching collections. From china displayed in glass-fronted buffets to the texture of chunky moldings, older homes create balance in repetition. Winslet & Rhys is able to do something similar, of course, because it’s displaying objects for sale. So there are delightful rows of freedom soaps or gold-accented cocktail glasses. Still, it’s worth considering the idea of a collection.

Classic polish:

It’s not hard to imagine the store’s tan leather sofa, worn Oriental rug, and unfussy accent pillows cozied up near a brick fireplace surrounded by built-in shelves. Or the subtle ridges of a Plenty Design Coop chair playing well with classic moldings. The consistently pale woods and the brass bracketed-shelves feel finished. Despite the shop’s industrial bones, there’s not a reclaimed wood in sight. Instead, its thoughtful designs create an understated elegance fit for classic architecture.

Crafted details:

Which brings us to the not-so-secret secret of Winslet & Rhys’s classic-friendly modern style: the craftsmanship is what makes it versatile. Its blend of good ideas and human touch. Because even if you’re ready to knock down walls and modernize a floor plan, you still need elements that connect with the home’s original spirit. Handmade details are the ultimate connecting fiber.