Story By Laura McAlister – Photos by Lee Walls Jr.
The 2012 Decorators’ ShowHouse will have lots of firsts this year.
In the 36 years the Alabama Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Council has hosted the event, the 2012 ShowHouse in Vestavia Hills will be the first to have a gymnasium with a regulation half basketball court as well as a rock climbing wall.
But perhaps the most unusual aspect of this home is that it will be up for auction during the Decorators’ ShowHouse.
“That’s a first,” said Nan Teninbaum, advisor of the ShowHouse Steering Committee. “We’ve never had an auction before, so it should be interesting.
“It’s a really unique house. There are so many different aspects and a lot of detail. The surroundings are interesting, too.”
Turtle Rock Estate on Vestwood Drive is this year’s ShowHouse. There will be a Sneak Peek Party April 20, and the house will be open to the public April 21-May 6. The auction is set for 6 p.m. May 3.
Earl Bryant and his family are the original and only owners of the home that sits atop a hill surrounded by trees and natural rock formations. The home, built in 1993, has been empty for several years but has been well kept and was renovated about three years ago. Earl thought the ShowHouse was the perfect opportunity to show off what a unique house it truly is.
“The opportunity came up to allow use of our home as the 2012 Decorators’ ShowHouse, and that’s the highest profile one can achieve,” he said in a statement from Target Auction Company, which is handling the auction. “We felt that combining that with the upcoming auction would attract the attention we need to have a successful auction.
“They’re expecting some 5,000 people to come through the home when it opens beginning April 21, and that will be an enormous benefit for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.”
From the outside, the home looks like a historical Spanish villa with a barrel tile roof and blends of tumbled brick, stone, tongue and groove cedar, stucco and copper gutters and chimney caps.
Inside, though, the home takes on an almost more European charm but still with a Southwestern flair. It has six bedrooms and seven baths and was designed to take in the stunning views from almost every room.
“This really was a house built to take advantage of the gorgeous surroundings,” Nan said. “You don’t feel like you’re in the middle of Vestavia.”
In addition to a large master suite balcony and outdoor spaces outside the kitchen and dining area, the two-acre lot has custom landscaping, taking advantage of the large rocks. In fact, the estate’s name, Turtle Rock Estate, comes from a rock in the front of the house that’s shaped like a turtle.
The most stunning of those rock formations, though, is the huge rock waterfall in the backyard. This is actually where Earl and his wife, Rhonda, were married.
The 35-foot waterfall operates off well water fed into a 5,000-gallon reservoir. The water falling from the rock is collected in a creek that runs the length of the property. It forms two more waterfalls on the lower patios before emptying into a 1,000-gallon catch basin. Then it’s recirculated at the top.
If the outside of the house isn’t breathtaking enough, step inside. It has almost four levels, so be prepared to climb some stairs.
All the interior doors are custom-made from Santa Fe, N.M.
The main living space includes a kitchen with a dining room, den and great room. The floors in the kitchen and dining area are real slate, and in the great room they are sugar pine wide plank.
The kitchen has granite countertops with stainless steel GE Monogram appliances. The large island has a 4-inch-thick walnut butcher block countertop.
The great room, just off the kitchen and dining area, has a custom barn board treatment on the ceilings and a stacked stone masonry fireplace. It leads out to the sleeping porch, which overlooks the private front yard and is complete with a full-sized hanging bed.
The master bedroom, on a level all its own, includes a large master bath with a double shower, soaking tub and sauna.
The closet is large with built-ins, and there’s a laundry room on this level as well as on the main level of the house.
The master bedroom also has its own private patio with views of Double Oak Mountain and plenty of room for having morning coffee and breakfast.
Up the next set of stairs are four more bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.
The bottom level of the house is where you’ll find some of the home’s most unique features.
There’s a library that looks out into the gymnasium, which is complete with a half basketball court and state-of-the-art 22-foot climbing wall. The large arched windows in the gym offer yet another great view of Double Oak Mountain. Nan said this is where the Symphony Shop will be set up during the ShowHouse.
The first level has its own guest suite complete with a small kitchen and dining space.
Other features on this level include a wine cellar, home theatre and even a safe room behind a hidden door.
Dewey Jacobs, president of Target Auction Company, said thanks to the existing, unique features of the home combined with the talents of this year’s decorators, the 2012 ShowHouse should be something to see.
Nancy VanWanderham, chairman of the decorators, said there are around 21 decorators this year, most of whom are returning.
“We have a mix of decorators from contemporary all the way to classical,” she said. “They are well-known and have clients all over the Southeast, really.”