Story by Donna Cornelius • Photos by Lee Walls Jr.
This year’s Decorators’ ShowHouse would have a very different look without Issis & Sons.
Those who attend the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s annual fundraiser will see three rooms designed by the retail flooring and furniture company. Issis & Sons also refinished original hardwood floors throughout the house and added new and pre-finished wood in other spaces.
“We came to look at the house and became friends with the owners,” said Steve Issis, the company’s owner. “We were asked to do a second room, and we thought that if we were going to do two, we might as well do three.”
Issis & Sons’ ShowHouse rooms are the library, which is on the house’s main level just off the foyer, and two upstairs bedrooms.
In the library, the star of the show is a hand-woven, 100-percent wool rug from India.
“It’s not a traditional Oriental rug design but is more contemporary,” said Nancy Gowens, Issis & Sons’ operations manager. “Vegetable dye gives it a patina of age.”
The rug is blue with other muted colors “but will blend with many things,” Gowens said. “Navy blues and bright blues are coming in strong in 2017.”
To set off the room’s original wood paneling and bookcases, grasscloth that covered the walls was painted a rich, dark blue. Blue also is a predominant color in some of the fabrics used in the room, including the draperies framing French doors that open onto the front porch.
“The draperies are a poly-cotton blend with a linen look,” Gowens said.
Artwork and other decorative pieces in the library are from Issis & Sons.
“But we worked with some of the homeowner’s things,” Gowens said. “For example, the light fixtures were already here. Because they’re gold, we pulled that color out by adding gold frames and other accents.”
Issis & Sons made the room inviting with a handsome brown Chesterfield sofa and two comfortable linen chairs with classic lines. Bookcase doors can be opened to reveal a large-screen TV.
“This room has a clean, classic look,” Gowens said.
The two upstairs bedrooms each were designed with different family members in mind. One of the rooms would be a great space for a daughter who’s maybe away at college, Gowens said. But the room could easily accommodate guests as well as girls.
“The room has two dormer windows with window seats, and we tried to emphasize the architecture,” Gowens said. “You need to take that into consideration with any room design, to take the architecture and highlight it as the builder intended it.”
The bedroom’s walls are painted in Pratt & Lambert’s Argent, a pale blue shade. A chandelier is draped with wooden beads rather than crystal pendants for a fresh look, and an elegant lamp on the bedside table has an alabaster pillar.
A long white table serves as a contemporary-style desk. On the opposite wall is a painted wooden chest with dovetailed drawers.
“It has a vintage look, but it’s a new piece,” said Anne Borland, manager of Issis & Sons’ Vestavia Hills store. “You can come in and choose the colors for the paint.”
Some of the furniture is from Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines. Borland said the line, created by the star of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” series, is very popular. Magnolia Home pieces in the room include a bed made of shiplap, a type of wooden board commonly used for exterior siding, and a French-inspired side table with a piecrust-edged top.
The light-colored carpet is Karastan’s SmartStrand, which Steve Issis said “has all the bells and whistles” when it comes to a product that’s both durable and easy to clean.
“It has a warranty of up to 20 years,” Issis said.
While this bedroom has a feminine slant, the second one is geared toward a masculine occupant.
The designers incorporated wooden accents, metal artwork and a map of London in shades of brown. A cowhide rug on the floor comes in several colors.
“We also have antelope, deer and elk rugs,” Issis said.
Magnolia Home pieces in this room include the bed and a metal chest of drawer, which has an industrial, utilitarian look.
“For this room, we had in mind a boy who’s a biker, a traveler,” Borland said. “We kept things neutral here with blue-gray undertones in the paint.”
The two bedrooms are connected by a Jack and Jill bathroom. Issis & Sons Bath installed the tiling on the floor and in the shower.
“It’s a porcelain tile that looks like marble,” Steve Issis said. “It’s easy to clean, wears well and is stain resistant.”
Many of the designers who participate in the ShowHouse have to spend lots of time and effort pulling furniture, rugs and accessories from different sources. That wasn’t a problem for the Issis & Sons team.
“Everything here in the ShowHouse is done by our people and with our products,” Steve Issis said. “The thing that makes us unique is that we offer a wide variety of things for the home. We’re not a typical furniture or carpet or tile store.
“It’s all in-house management. We can easily coordinate work schedules. It’s all one company, so everyone’s working together.”
Issis, a Birmingham native, started the company in Pelham in 1983 with the help and support of his father, Odeh. The two worked together until Odeh Issis’ death in 2001. Steady growth over the years has led to four Issis & Sons locations: flooring galleries in Pelham and Greystone and furniture galleries in Pelham and Vestavia Hills.
“We have the largest rug showroom in the South,” Steve Issis said.
For more information, visit www.issisandsons.com.