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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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Lakeview on Instagram: The Collective at Pepper Place

The Collective at Pepper Place
Image via The Collective

There’s something a little mysterious about hair salons. Whether Steel Magnolias-style refuge for Southern women, or just intimidatingly high-end, the salon can feel like a business that trades in secrets. So we’ve been intrigued following The Collective at Pepper Place, with its active Instagram account showing everything from fun training trips to the results of individual stylists’ work. This new social salon offers style goals and a sense of the Pepper Place community, so we approached owner Beth Doyle to find out more.

Doyle had a vision for her salon, she explained. A former teacher, she wanted to create a space that really developed the skills of individual stylists. “I set out to create a place where stylists would have the freedom to expand themselves creatively,” she said.

Visually, the salon’s space in Pepper Place is reminiscent of Scene: white walls, big windows, open plan. There’s a bit of an art studio feel to the stylists’ spaces, lined up in two rows down the room, separated by a row of stand mirrors in the middle.

But a setup that could seem severe looks inviting, with warm wood floors and lots of natural light. “We offer guests a peaceful space with upbeat personality,” Doyle said. The waiting area has a comfortable mid-century style that could easily be a downtown Loft District living room. That’s fitting, since Doyle said “building relationships is the cornerstone of what The Collective is about.”

“We have a diverse crowd which we love,” Doyle said. “Getting to meet people from all walks is one of the best parts of being a stylist.” That’s certainly the impression we get from the salon feed. There are shots of special styling work like photo shoots, but much of it features day-to-day clients. Folks who could be any of us, coincidentally photographed with great hair in natural light.

It’s an accessible artistry that makes sense in this Pepper Place Market neighborhood. You may even recognize some of the wall art from market vendors, and the salon’s own Lindsie Mosley has her own Eiley Grae Fabric Coline of baby clothes, quilts, and accessories.

“Being in the Lakeview area and the vicinity of all of the great things that are happening in Birmingham is so exciting,” Doyle said. “We really try to celebrate our city, especially all the great small business.” Lakeview and Pepper Place specifically are areas of concentrated revival, and The Collective’s enthusiasm for things local is a perfect fit.

Saucy Fun at Cashio’s Meatball Market in Lakeview

cashio's meatball market in lakeview

cashio's meatball market in lakeview

From the outside, Cashio’s Meatball Market in Lakeview looks quaint. Historic, even, as though it could belong to owner Mary Susan Cashio’s grandmother, who inspired the recipes, according to AL.com. But this is no grandma restaurant. Cashio’s combines small neighborhood charm with modern restaurant polish to create a thoroughly fun new option.

Taking a page from fast-casual dining, Cashio’s has built its entire menu on the meatball. Pretty literally, in fact. The menus aren’t simply a list of available options; they’re the canvas for your own meatball masterpiece. And the restaurant website’s food photography is sure to get you inspired.

Pick your meatball meat–or the veggie option–and build from that, adding sauce and then a side. Mark your choices on the menu as you calculate your perfect bite. If by chance you can’t choose, there’s even a meatball flight. The man at a neighboring table seemed pleased with that decision, reporting that he even loved the veggie meatball.

For the ultimate comfort bite, you’ll probably want either the classic beef or the Italian sausage meatball and the spicy marinara over pasta. The sauce is chunky enough to stand up to a meatball and adds a subtle kick. The marsala sauce is also worth a try. We’d pair it with the risotto, which had a great texture–a hint of creaminess without losing the rice grain.

Cashio’s genius is really in the buildable approach, where you can hold onto part of a favorite meal but branch out with different pairings. And it’s just plain fun.

The bold interiors by Appleseed Workshop are a pleasure to sit in–the statement banquettes are incredibly comfy–and the staff is friendly. It’s the kind of atmosphere where you could easily be a regular. And with the location walkable to housing in Lakeview and Highland Park, that’s a distinct possibility.

Architectural Heritage, Your Go-To for Lived-In Luxury

architectural heritage lakeview

architectural heritage lakeview

Lakeview’s Architectural Heritage knows how to make an entrance. Life-size statues, garden troughs the size of bathtubs, the fixings for a custom water feature. All greet visitors from an iron-gated courtyard. Part architectural museum and part genteel salvage yard, Architectural Heritage specializes in found treasures on a grand scale.

This is no hodgepodge antiques warehouse but a series of collections. Nor is this your go-to place for the everyday furnishing. It’s more the answer to a style yearning. The search for your home’s statement accessory. It’s the home decor version of estate jewels from Levy’s downtown. Architectural Heritage is your go-to for lived-in luxury.

It’s not all old-world statuary or salvaged stone mantels, though. There are small Oriental throw rugs and vibrant butterfly taxidermy, both items that work with a wide range of design eras.

There are also nice modern hints tucked into the displays of old-world salvage. Leather-bound books cluster on simple acrylic shelves. The tag by a William McLure abstract suggests it’s a contemporary mixer that’s antique-friendly.  

Still, Architectural Heritage’s casually aristocratic air works well with other Pepper Place favorites like King’s House, or Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery. These are places that celebrate the traditional arts. That old-world air also suggests the most natural spaces for the style and scale of these heritage pieces.

Ornate salvaged mantels and crystal chandeliers feel most obviously at home in Highland or Forest Park. But they’re also a way to bring some of the sculpted downtown facades into high-ceiling Loft District homes.

The upper price points reflect those bigger-ticket neighborhoods, with pieces that run into the four figures. Heritage pieces are the kinds of things you keep, though, so we’d argue they’re worth the investment.

Like a grand home, it’s probably not your very first purchase. But it just might be your favorite.

Lakeview’s Motus Motorcycles Earns Celebrity Praise

motus motorcycles in lakeview

motus motorcycles in lakeview

What do you get if you blend Lakeview’s industrial heritage, its crop of automotive shops, and the craftsman spirit of Pepper Place? You get Motus Motorcycles. You also get a local product with a big league fan.

He may have made the requisite Alabama joke, but Jay Leno showed some serious love for the Lakeview-based firm on his YouTube show, Jay’s Garage. The celebrity auto enthusiast featured the Motus MSTR model, along with company officials Brian Case and Lee Conn. The Birmingham Business Journal reported on the episode in July. 

Much of Leno’s praise focused on Motus’s innovative motor. It’s “an engine unique to this motorcycle,” he said. “And it’s an engine we haven’t really seen before.”

It’s commonplace to hang a new body design around a standard engine, according to Leno, but the real art is in the motor. At Motus, he noted, “it’s a bespoke motor.”

“That’s the real sign of dedication to me,” he said. “Because you use somebody else’s motor, the rest of it is not easy, but it’s easier.”

That Motus has created something new and found a way to build it here also earned Leno’s praise:

“I love to see people building something in America. It’s so hard with all these automobile manufacturers and some motorcycle manufacturers going out of business, it’s nice to see these guys coming up with something.”

And to put these motorcycles into perspective, Leno said there are three American-made options: Harley, Indian, and Motus. Just let that sink in for a minute.

We say it’s telling that Motus is located in Lakeview. The neighborhood that revels in rescuing artifacts of an earlier era and bringing them back to life. From family farm stalls to craft beers, this is an artisanal neighborhood. It’s a Maker’s Village well beyond the Saturday market.

“It’s easy to get into lots of gimmicks,” Conn told Leno. “We just really wanted to build something that it was just about the feeling we used to get on bikes, where it was just the throttle and the engine and the road.”

New Saturday Scene at Pepper Place Market

scene at pepper place market

scene at pepper place market

Pepper Place Market is a Birmingham establishment. It could draw a large crowd with no additional marketing or fresh features. Fortunately, though, it hasn’t gone that route. Instead, each year feels like organic growth, with something that’s both more exciting and that fits right in. This year, it’s Scene.

Scene’s website describes the space as “an urban concept venue collaborating with designers, makers + artists; an ever-changing curated space.” An expansion of the Pepper Place atmosphere on Saturdays and 3rd Thursdays, it’s also available for event rental, according to the site. Which is handy, because we’d love to spend more time here.

With its high ceilings, exposed brick, and strategic drywall, Scene is a glammed-up warehouse space in the Pepper Place tradition. An added bonus is its charmingly branded bar space, complete with brass foot rails.

Last year Pepper Place launched the full Know Thy Farmer branding, and Scene seems to be saying Know Thy Artist too. Canvases transform from raw materials to art projects in action by featured local artists like William McLure and Wellon Bridgers.

Artisan booths extend the nearby Makers Market. Longer-term art installations blend the easy market vibe with thoughtful gallery displays. Meanwhile, the indoor, air-conditioned space is a nice break from summer heat.  

Stone Hollow Farmstead is a core part of the Scene, adding a more immersive experience to complement its continuing outdoor market booth. Samples of their full line of Bloody Mary mixers (made with local Redmont vodka) are reason alone to get up on a Saturday. There are also specialty smoothies and artisanal food samples, as well as a small Botaniko showcase.

The Botaniko presence just might be the most interesting development indicator. The line’s full showroom is in the downtown Loft District, part of our neighborhood’s increasingly boutique expansion. Botaniko’s Pepper Place footprint hints that Lakeview may be the next Loft District. With the Rotary/Jones Valley trail system in place and more multifamily spaces opening, it’s the natural addition of Birmingham urban living.

Go Green at Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery

charlie thigpen's garden gallery

From the outside, you might think Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery is another a nice local nursery. But “garden gallery” isn’t just a brand. It’s a really apt description of this charming shop and its role in Lakeview’s Pepper Place.

Situated next to Scene, Ovenbird, and the Saturday Maker’s Market, the Garden Gallery may have set the trend for many indoor/outdoor favorites at Pepper Place. Walking through the winding pathways during a warm market Saturday, the outside gardens of succulent trays and herbs are a visual oasis that we swear makes you feel cooler.

Step inside the high-ceilinged indoor space, and you’ll see the wide range of products the gallery sells to make your home feel similarly inviting. There floor cloths inspired by vintage tile, and glam furnishings from humble materials. Our personal favorite is the tractor seat turned bar stool, which boasts comfy curves and a footrest.

Birmingham has “more green space per capita than any other city in the nation,” the city’s website boasts. It’s fitting that a place like Charlie Thigpen’s exists to help us make the most of it in our own homes. That transition from public to private green space feels most natural in historic neighborhoods like Highland Park, but it isn’t limited to them.

The right plants and outdoor goods could make even a nearby downtown Loft District or Lakeview balcony feel lush. Even with no outdoor space, framed botanical art and small statuary — there are charming little birds and even a friendly gargoyle — brings the garden party indoors.

Indoor/outdoor isn’t just a lifestyle at the garden gallery but part of its very democratic feel. Like Pepper Place, it has offerings for the well-heeled and the student budget. It works for the range of Birmingham, from eclectic Five Points rentals to John Hand Building balconies.

Third Thursdays Feature Lakeview’s Blended Charm

third thursday at pepper place

third thursday at pepper place

Third Thursday at Pepper Place is a cocktail party atmosphere with a flat sandal style. It’s exuberantly come-as-you-are, whether that means work pants or white jeans or your favorite cutoff shorts. It’s as scene-ish as you want — or don’t want — it to be, and that’s a special atmosphere indeed. With attractions from beer and corn hole outside the Alabama Outdoors pop-up to art and cocktails at Scene, it’s deliberately and delightfully everyone’s game.

Monthly neighborhood events are a thing in Birmingham now — from Forest Park’s Tour de Loo to the Loft District’s Art Crawl. Each of them designed to highlight what the neighborhood already boasts, with a little extra to feel like an event. The common thread is local businesses supporting art and artisans, along with neighborhood spirit.

So what sets Third Thursday apart? Part of its appeal is the unique layout of the space. There’s the pop-up energy of the 2nd avenue parking lot. Then there’s the indoor/outdoor garden party appeal of Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery and Scene.

It’s also possibly the best night-out deal in town, with unlimited food and drinks available for a suggested donation of $10 (or $5 if you’re only eating), which supports a designated charity each month. If you’re a young professional saving up for a down payment, this is a ridiculously wonderful social option.

While Lakeview is coming to its own as a residential option, it’s still most known as a funny meeting point for folks throughout the city. Third Thursday combines the urban energy of downtown development with the quieter charm of an established neighborhood. It’s also the smaller, calmer, more nighttime version of Pepper Place.

If the Loft District, Avondale, and Highland Park all had a mind meld, it would be Lakeview, and Third Thursday. As far as we’re concerned, that’s reason enough to love it.