By Donna Cornelius
The first time’s a charm for four designers who are newcomers to the Decorators’ ShowHouse this year.
One is fairly new to Birmingham itself as well as to participating in the Alabama Symphony Orchestra fundraiser. Another is known for making special events extra special. The other two are sisters who found it fun to create their ShowHouse space together.
Allyson Kirkpatrick: Room With a View
Even though she’s a talented designer with an outgoing personality, Allyson Kirkpatrick found it hard to connect with new friends when she moved to Birmingham. That’s because she came to the city in February 2021 – right at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing was the norm.
“I came from Charleston, where I lived in the historic district,” Kirkpatrick said. “I moved to Birmingham because I wanted to be close to family. My son and his wife live there.”
The owner of AllysonK Designs, she also is a past resident of Huntsville, where she participated as a designer in three show houses in that city. During her time in Huntsville, she had become familiar with the ASO ShowHouse, too.
“My birthday is May 5, and some friends and I would celebrate by having lunch and visiting the ShowHouse,” Kirkpatrick said.
Her travels between Huntsville and Birmingham meant that she’d admired Hallmark Farm from the interstate, one reason she was eager to be part of this year’s ShowHouse. Most of the house’s spaces already had been assigned to other designers by the time she talked with ShowHouse leaders about getting involved.
“There was one room left, the smallest bedroom, and I fell in love with it,” she said.
She decided to cover the room’s walls and ceiling with wallpaper from Farrow & Ball.
“I wanted a consistent envelope of wallpaper,” she said.
The paper has an understated sunburst design, echoed by a sunburst light fixture on the ceiling.
The room is a study in green, from the Yves Delorme coverlet on the bed to the draperies that once hung in Kirkpatrick’s Charleston home.
“I call this ‘Room With a View,’ and I wanted to dramatize that view with silk velvet curtains that are apple green with gold trim — very elegant,” she said.
She borrowed a wooden bed with a carved bird perched on the headboard from a friend who’s also her client. Bird motifs, in fact, can be found throughout the room, including in a charming print of a girl with parakeets, a Victorian silk needlework piece over the bed and a needlework stool.
A French harvest basket from the 1800s and a Bergere upholstered in green are from Henhouse Antiques in English Village. Kirkpatrick discovered old prints at Roman Brantley Art and Antiques in Homewood and at The Potager in Northport.
There are some fun touches, too, including a fancy silk hat and Patricia Altschul’s book “The Art of Southern Charm” as well as other books from Kirkpatrick’s own collection.
She’s enjoyed her first experience with the Birmingham ShowHouse.
“I love the hunting and pecking process of putting things together,” she said.
For more information, visit www.allysonkdesigns.com.
Mandy Majerik: Entertaining Ideas
While most ShowHouse designers specialize in decorating houses, Mandy Majerik’s forte is a little different.
“We primarily do weddings and events,” she said.
HotHouse Design Studio specializes in floral design. And HotHouse’s sister company, PropHouse, offers styling and prop rentals – everything from furniture to cake stands – for corporate events, weddings, fundraisers and all kinds of special events.
“My mother and grandmother owned a flower shop,” Majerik said.
Majerik studied interior design in college. She made the ShowHouse connection through Heidi Elnora, a Warrior native and wedding dress designer who’s lent her talents to this year’s event.
“She and I are good friends, and she said, ‘You need to do this,’” Majerik said.
While the room is officially listed as a ballroom, she’s dubbed it the Music Room. Appropriately enough for the fundraiser, ShowHouse visitors may hear tunes played on the room’s 9-foot Steinway grand piano that’s original to the house. The Alabama Youth Symphony Ensemble also will perform at times.
Other original elements in the room are the parquet floor and the wallpaper, which has a grayish-green design on a peach background.
“I didn’t want to compete with the wallpaper,” Majerik said. To that end, she incorporated preserved white botanicals and hung a few vintage portraits on the walls.
Majerik designed her space with entertaining in mind. Infinity sofas in a deep, rich green can be separated and arranged as needed.
“We added some high-top tables, too,” she said.
From the front windows of the room, you can see the site where Mary Hallmark had a rose garden planted in the shape of an H.
A majestic white peacock surveys the room from a lofty perch in the center of the room.
“The peacock is unexpected and a focal point,” Majerik said.
For more information, visit www.hothousedesignstudio.com and www.prophousebirmingham.com. You also can follow both businesses on social media.
Hannah Interiors: An Artful Display
Two of this year’s ShowHouse designers have close ties to the Warrior community, to the Hallmark Farm property and to each other. Sisters Cathy Hannah, who does mostly residential design, and Julie Hooper, a commercial designer with Alabama Power Co., have pooled their talents to fill an upstairs alcove with a variety of artwork.
“We go back at least six generations in Warrior,” Hannah said. “Some of our relatives by marriage owned this property at one time.”
The sisters said that the Hallmarks were self-made people.
“They had weddings and receptions here,” Hannah said. “They kept vintage cars in the pole barn. In the 1980s, Country Boy Eddie would do his Christmas shows from here.”
Hooper has a master’s degree in art history and said the sisters’ vision for their ShowHouse space was “a salon style gallery with an eclectic mix.” To set off the carefully chosen collection of pieces on the alcove walls, they opted for a neutral background with light grey walls and benches covered in black-and-white fabric.
“We looked for pieces from Birmingham or Alabama artists,” Hannah said.
One of those homegrown artists is Nall. Born in Troy, he’s internationally known and has a studio in Fairhope. Nall’s 3-D works displayed in the ShowHouse were done in collaboration with children with special needs.
Hooper pointed out several encaustics, pieces that use a painting technique in which pigments are mixed with hot liquid wax.
ShowHouse visitors also will see glass pieces from Cal Breed’s Orbix studio in Fort Payne, several Audubon prints and works by native Birmingham artists Dan
Bynum, Molly Hand, Maralyn Wilson and Gary Chapman, a professor of painting and drawing at UAB. Birmingham Wholesale Furniture supplied some of the other elements in the alcove.
The custom benches and a bound broadloom rug had to be chosen carefully to fit the narrow space. Gauzy curtains frame French doors that open to a balcony.
Hannah and Hooper said that, back in the 1970s, construction of the Hallmark mansion set the town abuzz.
“People kept talking about ‘water coming out of the wall,’” Hannah said with a smile, referring to the solarium’s built-in fountain.
For more information about Hannah Interiors, send an email to Cathy Hannah at email@example.com.