By Keysha Drexel
First-time guests at the home of Danielle and Bart Yancey might think their house was plucked from a winding hillside road in Greece or Spain and nestled in Vestavia Hills.
But in reality, the Mediterranean-style home at 2312 Shades Crest Road is just barely a year old and is completely homegrown.
The Yanceys’ home is one of five being featured on this year’s Legacy League Christmas Home Tour on Dec. 12.
The couple built the two-story house in 2012 and moved in just two months before Christmas last year.
“This will be our second Christmas in the house, and we’re really excited about being on the home tour this year,” Danielle said. “We’ve had time to settle in now, and we’re glad to have a chance to open up our home for the holidays.”
The Yanceys owned a house built in the 1950s on the same site before they decided to completely tear it down and build a new house.
“We lived in the house that was here for about eight years, and about six and half years into it, we thought about adding on and making renovations,” Danielle said. “We even thought about buying another house, but we couldn’t really find anything that we loved.”
So after consulting with an architect and a contractor on possible renovations to their existing house, the couple decided their best bet would be to build a house that better suited their needs and reflected their style.
“It was just going to be a lot, a lot of major renovations, so when the architect suggested that we start from scratch, we decided to just go for it,” she said. “They took it down to the foundation.”
Although they originally hadn’t planned on taking on the task of designing an entirely new house, Danielle said the couple jumped into the planning process with both feet.
“We were more excited than intimidated by having that blank slate to work with, and we had ideas on how we wanted the house to look,” she said.
For inspiration, the couple had to look no further than their vacation photos, Danielle said.
“We’ve traveled to Barcelona and Greece and really loved that Mediterranean style of architecture,” she said. “We had already planned on building in that style before we went to Greece, but after going there and seeing all the beautiful white buildings and the arches, it sealed the deal. We came back and decided to paint everything white to remind us of Santorini and Mykonos.”
The couple worked with architect Byron Smith of Studio Smith Architecture in Birmingham to formulate a plan to bring those Mediterranean influences to life.
“I gave him a lot of pictures of things that we liked, and he took all those elements and put them together, and we loved his design,” Danielle said.
In fact, the couple had only one major change from the plans Smith first presented them with for the new house, she said.
“We were at Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in Cullman and saw these gorgeous old double-arched wooden doors, and we knew we had to change the original plans that called for regular, rectangular doors on the front of the house,” Danielle said.
Inside, the home features four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, 10-foot ceilings and open, light-filled rooms.
“In our old house, we had a lot of closed rooms, and having open spaces in the new house was definitely a priority,” Danielle said. “We wanted to be able to go easily from the kitchen to the dining room to the family room. It’s perfect for entertaining.”
From the hand-finished plank flooring to the weathered ceiling beams, wood figures heavily in the home’s interior design.
The wooden elements are highlighted by the interior’s white walls and neutral color palette. Texture is layered on with natural materials like suede, stone and aged metals.
“We were going for that rustic feel with all the natural, organic elements,” Danielle said.
But the home’s decor also has luxurious touches, like marble countertops, gold and silver accessories and mercury glass accents throughout.
“I like the rustic, natural elements, but I also like the shiny things,” Danielle said. “I guess I don’t like to follow the rules when it comes to what goes with what. We just used the things that we like.”
That combination of rustic and luxe in the Mediterranean style is evident in the home’s airy, light-filled kitchen, which opens to the family room and dining room and offers views of the stonework patio in the backyard.
The kitchen features professional-grade stainless steel appliances and white marble countertops but also has rustic touches like the open shelves made from logs that were cut in half and barely sanded.
“I think some of them still have splinters,” Danielle said, laughing.
Another example of this rustic luxe style is the pecky cypress island in the kitchen. The island is accented with an unexpectedly modern twist–clear, acrylic bar stools.
“We had these wrought-iron bar stools there at first but found that they were detracting a little bit from the pecky cypress on the island, and so I saw these acrylic stools and thought I’d give them a try,” Danielle said. “I really like that unexpected mix of the two styles, and I like to think outside of the box.”
That outside-of-the-box thinking also inspired the one-of-a-kind chandelier over the couple’s dining room table, which itself is made of weathered reclaimed wood.
The chandelier, which spans the length of the long dining room table, is made out of parts of a chicken feeder that Danielle found at an antique shop in Atlanta.
“I saw it and thought that I could make a light out of it. The length was perfect, and all I had to do was figure out how to wire it and hang it from the ceiling,” she said.
For that, Danielle enlisted her father’s help and lucked out by finding two huge ropes that were already wired for lighting at a salvage store.
“I took everything up to my dad, and he wired it and we cleaned it up, rubbed the rust off it and finished it. I like that it’s a totally unique piece that you won’t find anywhere else,” she said.
A native of Dothan, Danielle said she developed her sense of style after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in apparel merchandising. But she said she can remember that even as a child, she had an opinion on the way her room should look.
“Now that I think about it, I was always particular about the decor in my room when I was little,” she said, laughing.
Danielle’s husband, Bart, grew up in Memphis, Tenn., but moved to the Over the Mountain area when he was in high school. He graduated from Briarwood Christian School and went on to play football at Samford University as quarterback.
He now owns his own company, Enrollment Advisors, a benefits enrolling company for corporations, Danielle said.
The couple have been married a little more than 10 years and have two dogs that they adopted from shelters.
Danielle said even before the couple built their new house, she was always happy to break out the Christmas decorations.
“Christmas was always a big deal in my house growing up, and decorating every year is something that I always look forward to,” she said.
For the Legacy League Christmas Home Tour, Danielle is decking the halls of her home with both newfound and long-held treasures.
Visitors will be greeted by several different trees throughout the house, Danielle said, including a football-themed one in a guest room upstairs.
The big, 9-foot tree in the family room downstairs will be adorned with a hand-embroidered Christmas tree skirt that Danielle’s mother made for her.
“It is so detailed and just amazing, and I know it took my mother forever to make this for me. It is definitely something that I will use every year and something I’ve used every year since she gave it to me at one of my bridal showers,” she said.
The tree in the family room will have lots of rustic ornaments, Danielle said, including wooden stars, feathered owl ornaments and, to mix it up, shiny mercury glass ornaments.
“I’m going for a sophisticated, rustic chic look with the big tree,” she said.
One upstairs bedroom will feature a whimsical Christmas tree in fun, bright colors, Danielle said, and another tree will have a cool color scheme of white, blue and silver.
In the dining room, the table will be set with the couple’s wedding china and silver and accented with holiday stemware, fresh rosemary and pomegranates and bolls of cotton nestled in magnolia leaves.
“And of course, the dining room table is going to have lots and lots of candles to make it feel romantic and cozy,” Danielle said.
Danielle said she’s likely to have a few surprises in store for those who visit her home on the Legacy League Christmas Home Tour this year.
“I like that element of the unexpected, and that goes for my Christmas decorations, too,” she said. “I can’t wait to welcome everybody in and to be a part of the tour.”