Story By Donna Cornelius • Photo by Lee Walls Jr.
The dining room at this year’s Decorators’ ShowHouse lends weight to the saying that less is more – especially when the pieces are carefully chosen by designers Kathy Harris and Heather Hill.
The mother-daughter team created a serene and stylish space with a thoughtful blend of European antiques and modern pieces.
“We like to mix in the old with the new,” Hill said.
This is the first time in several years that the duo’s company, Interiors by Kathy Harris, has participated in the ShowHouse. Harris said she and her daughter were happy to be a part of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra fundraiser and readily agreed to take on the dining room at the request of Nan Teninbaum, publicity chairman for the Symphony Volunteer Council.
“We love the symphony, and we’re happy that the ShowHouse benefits the arts in Birmingham,” Harris said.
Taking center stage in the room is an elegant Karges table with a hand-painted top and hand-laid inlay. Host and hostess chairs are slipcovered in pale beige linen.
The table is set with Waterford crystal and fine china from Philippe Deshoulières and Bernardaud paired with contemporary handcrafted dinnerware called Annieglass. Instead of a traditional floral arrangement as a centerpiece, candlesticks have floral collars and a swag of flowers from one to the other.
“We brought the chandelier above the table,” Harris said. “It’s Italian crystal with hand-carved wood details and an unusual spike in the center.”
An antique Persian Sarouk rug, made in 1910, has a floral pattern and an unusual turquoise palette. It’s from Paige Albright Orientals in Mountain Brook.
On the fireplace mantel is a collection of antique frames, mirrors, altar candlesticks and a fragment of a cross mounted on a base. Nearby is an antique mahogany settee with pretty pillows in muted red and blue. The pillows are made from antique textiles by B. Viz Designs. Behind the settee is a floor lamp that started life as a candlestick, Harris said.
A bleached Louis XV chest with oversized hardware is on the opposite wall. Atop the chest are a crystal lamp and a silver chafing dish that the designers filled with orchids. An abstract oil painting above the chest is from the Beverly O’Neil Gallery in Birmingham.
“It’s by Clara Blalock, an Atlanta artist,” Hill said. “It’s called ‘Who’s Minding the Store?’”
Harris and Hill said they loved the painting’s energy and its name.
“It fits us because we have a busy shop,” Harris said with a smile.
Opal linen draperies framing the French doors that open onto the front porch are 100 percent linen from Schumacher. The trim and leopard-linen sheers are Scalamandre. The draperies have sheering tape at the top and are installed on gold-colored iron rods.
“The leopard-linen sheers are unexpected for a dining room,” Hill said.
ShowHouse visitors shouldn’t miss the French barometer, made in the 1790s, on the wall. The hands and painted face of the eight-sided gilt piece are original, the designers said.
Harris and Hill chose paint from Farrow & Ball, a U.K.-based company, for the dining room.
“Their colors are exceptional,” Harris said.
The walls are a soft chalk white shade called Clunch; it’s named after the chalk stone used in many East Anglia buildings. The ceiling is Light Blue, so named, according to the company’s website, because it was the lightest blue Farrow & Ball made in its first collection of “colours.”
“Painting the ceiling is sort of a signature of ours,” Harris said.
The designers said they love finding furniture and accessories from a variety of sources.
“We’re always on a buying trip,” Harris said.
Interiors by Kathy Harris is at 3949 Cypress Drive in Vestavia Hills. You can follow the company on Facebook and Instagram.