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Category: Loft District

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.

 

 

Weeknight Breakfast at Carrigan’s Downtown

breakfast at Carrigan's

breakfast at Carrigan's

We’ve all hit that point midway through a particularly grueling workweek that demands more than your average comfort. The kind of week that demands breakfast food. Luckily, the good folks at Carrigan’s Public House launched a solution this fall: a “breakfast for supper” special each Wednesday evening.

Carrigan’s has marketed the meal as a reward for making it through your Wednesday. And at $10 for the breakfast dish plus mimosa, it definitely is. It’s also a genius antidote to any hump day blues. As the great Ron Swanson said, “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.”

This is no ordinary diner menu, though. It’s a single dish, and it may or may not be announced ahead of time. Past examples have included sausage and egg in a waffle sandwich, goat cheese-topped eggs in a basket nestled against curls of prosciutto, and a bagel and lox served with the prettiest poached eggs. All in keeping with the downtown loft district’s gastropub vibe.

One of our favorite things about the neighborhood is its rotating roster of specialty brunch availability–Saturdays at El Barrio and Feast & Forest, select Saturdays at Yo Mama’s, and Sundays at Trattoria Centrale–but Wednesday evening is a whole new ballgame. We frankly wouldn’t complain if every day was some sort of brunch day, but we’re perfectly happy to celebrate incremental wins.  

True brunch may be a meal reserved for leisurely weekends, but fancy breakfast food need not wait that long. The Carrigan’s solution seems both fancy and spartan, going out with a hint of staying in. All in keeping with the mixed use dynamic of downtown loft living.

We can’t promise a solution to all your hump day problems, but breakfast at Carrigan’s is a fine start. Or at least a merciful end. Here’s to hump day!

 

 

Boutique Food on the Downtown Revelator Coffee Menu

downtown Revelator Coffee menu

downtown Revelator Coffee menu

You’d be forgiven for not knowing the downtown Revelator Coffee menu includes food. It’s not online after all, and there are only passing references to it on social media. It’s worth paying attention, though, because there are some easy treasures here.

Focused on basic staples–avocado, hummus, boiled eggs, and fresh veggies–the lunch menu is a fancy version of what you might pack yourself or throw together at home. But with this presentation and price point (around eight dollars, with add-ons from one dollar to one-fifty), why would you?

The presentation is gorgeous but not overdone, as though the space’s architecture has been translated into food. The PM bowl reminds us of bibimbap: an artful arrangement of bite-size color and texture begging to be eaten. There’s creamy hummus, lightly-dressed arugula, and sticks of raw veggies for a lunch that feels positively virtuous in its healthiness but will still fill you up.

The avocado toast is another popular option (they were out of it by the time we swung by for a late lunch). Asher Lutz, son of local style blogger Lindsey Lutz of Life Lutzurious, reportedly loves the avocado toast here. And this is a kid with a favorite Bottega dish, so he clearly knows what’s what.

Food here is slightly less secretive than the coffee cocktail–food options are at least printed–but there’s no permanent online presence. The menu seems designed as an additional offering for an established crowd rather than a real marketing draw. And that strategy makes sense with Revelator’s boutique feel.

It’s as though they cleverly foresaw the move toward actual boutiques downtown and established themselves early in the game. Revelator’s been on the vanguard of this end of the loft district, after all. The Lyric wasn’t yet operating when it opened here, nor had the Pizitz Building or Thomas Jefferson Tower redevelopments begun. So it seems like no accident that they’ve added more complex offerings as this area has become one to linger in.

So, whether you’re looking for a non-sad working lunch or an easy, open-ended chat, it’s worth putting Revelator on your list.

 

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.

 

 

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.”

Luxury with History at Levy’s Fine Jewelry Downtown

levy's fine jewelry downtown

 

levy's fine jewelry downtown

Levy’s Fine Jewelry downtown stands alone. Literally. It stands not in a neat commercial row but as the only store on its block of 2nd Avenue North. That’s fitting for a store that’s been a longtime fixture of downtown Birmingham and offers pieces from many of its eras.

We’re quick to celebrate the grand repurposing of our city’s past, particularly in this downtown Loft District. But it’s also nice to celebrate a place like Levy’s that’s weathered the last century more or less intact.

And should you be contemplating a very special holiday purchase, we recommend thinking of Levy’s long history as a wonderful metaphor. This shop is a place that has lasted, after all. Not impervious to change, but strong enough to adapt with it.

Not that you need metaphors to appreciate the global antiques or rows of jewelry sparkling in its window displays. The baubles speak plainly enough for themselves. But if your special person is the kind who loves living in a neighborhood with a past, with the crafted details now rarely produced, Levy’s is the best possible source.

Even the relative simplicity of a large 1940s solitaire (sold, unfortunately) has an unexpected depth. In a 1950s setting, a ruffle of diamonds hugs an emerald set in platinum with a serpent motif. Both as interesting as they are lovely.

And if a very big gift isn’t on your shopping list, there are plenty of charming everyday options with a nice patina. Cufflinks, say, or a delicate pendant.

Perhaps our very favorite thing about this store–besides the fact that it has a matriarchis its business strategy. As described in this BMetro feature, the shop has managed to blend its lovable storefront retail with lucrative trade show sales. One foot in local tradition and one in the wider world, which is basically the model for our reviving downtown district.

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.

A Landmark New Year’s Eve at the Redmont

new year's eve at the redmont hotel

new year's eve at the redmont hotel

New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, which means it’s time to strategize. How else can you pick up something appropriately festive for yourself while you’re out holiday shopping? We suggest complementing your cocktail threads for this year’s new event: New Year’s Eve at the Redmont.

More specifically, on its rooftop bar, The Roof.

There are plenty of wonderful ways to ring in a new year. Romantic fine dining, house parties with friends, champagne on your very own couch–these are all valid choices. But there are some events that are inherently memorable, and our money is on the Redmont to be among them.

We’ve advocated for ticketed events in the past for one simple reason: it’s nice to know there’s room at your destination. And with the Redmont evening’s tiered pricing, you can choose what level of accommodation you expect, from General Hotel Admission to a rooftop sofa with your name on it. Or make a complete evening of it by purchasing tickets to Harvest’s prix fixe dinner that night as well.

But decide soon. All but the VIP ticket sales end Friday, December 16.

It’s hard to imagine a bad choice, though, if it involves city views from 14 stories up. The twinkling lights of downtown’s Loft District are unfailingly magical. And spying landmark buildings from City Federal to the Thomas Jefferson Tower? Well, that’s a wider angle than your average downtown resident can boast.

The view is reason enough to visit The Roof anytime, but even more so this time.

At its heart, celebrating New Year’s Eve is marking time by secular ritual. It’s honoring (and sometimes shedding) our past as we hold out our hopes for the future. And at its very best, it’s about doing those things collectively. In this, our new Birmingham era, what better way to celebrate the developments of 2016 than at one of them?

Art in Full View at Canary Gallery Downtown

canary gallery downtown

canary gallery downtown

While renovations were underway, a giant chandelier was the most distinguishing feature at Canary Gallery downtown. It’s still one of our favorites, but there’s no shortage of things to see now: crisp white walls display work ranging from bold pop art to soft country landscapes. Like its Loft District neighbors, the gallery puts an existing building to stylish mixed use.

What we especially like about this space is its visibility. Even when the gallery is closed, its corner spot with generous windows and ambient lighting means there’s something to see any time of day. It’s a boon for the neighborhood streetscape and part of a block undergoing rapid transformation. After all, Artefact Supply opened this fall, and our friends at Nequette Architecture and Design have their own plans nearby.

Perhaps the gallery’s most intriguing feature is its business model. The gallery describes itself as “a neighborhood art gallery, event space, and gathering spot.It’s a working gallery with art for sale, in other words, but it’s also a flexible multipurpose space befitting its downtown district. Downtown Birmingham is already a booming artistic space, but Canary adds something extra to the mix.

It’s hard not to daydream about hosting an event there. The floor plan’s easy flow and lofted nook invite mingling and lingering. Which is what owner Libby Pantazis had in mind, according to a profile in Iron City Ink.

And the tone of Canary Gallery is more reminiscent of Art Crawl than high society. It’s designed “to be a friendly, welcoming place, not a holy temple of art,” according to the Iron City Ink piece, which noted that gallery hours cater to the surrounding bar and restaurant scene. In fact, the gallery’s blog suggests restaurant patrons could spend their wait time over a glass of wine–available for purchase–and art.