Reader Design: Leslie's Southern Home

I'm back in Richmond for wedding meetings this week, so it's only fitting that our reader design be in another traditionally Southern place. Let's check out Leslie's southern home in Birmingham, Alabama!

I’m a Southerner through and through. I feel passionate about cultivating heritage in our home by rooting my designs in mostly a fresh traditional style. I think there is a misconception that traditional style is stale, boring or tired. I strive to create a home that is collected, classic with a healthy dose of the unexpected. But most importantly, I want to create a home that is welcoming and comfortable. I seem to find myself drawn to classic furniture with a bit of embellishment, whether that’s a beautifully carved leg, unique details or craftsmanship Thankfully, with the numerous ways to acquire thrifted pieces today, it is easy to create a home that fits my style and my budget.
— Leslie
After nine moves, I think we have finally settled in for the long haul with our current house I have dubbed #thetrailhousereno. A little over two years ago I fell in love with a house in our existing neighborhood that needed a ton of love. Somehow I convinced my husband to agree to rehabbing this home. We completely resurfaced the problem front facade with brick and took the opportunity to clean up the bad late 90’s architecture.
It is always hard to choose a favorite room but cooking is my love language, so the kitchen is probably a winner by default. It might be hard to believe, but the kitchen was a budget friendly renovation. We were able to keep the existing cabinetry and granite and recycle the old island into a beverage center. A new island was built to fit the kitchen’s new expanded view. We DIY’ed the backsplash and the reclaimed wood countertop and shelves.

While much of the home is classic and traditional, there are nods to the "now" in a few spots. 

I would not say I am completely immune to trends. Adding a small trendy piece of pottery or the “color of the moment” in a throw is interesting way to inject life into your home. I thrive on change and yet, I do not subscribe to the notion of replacing larger pieces of furniture based on a trend. I say, collect timeless investment pieces and keep an open mind to trends that speak to you and work well with your overall design aesthetic.

One of those spots is Leslie's personal studio.

Upstairs, in my personal studio, I took the liberty to have a little fun and depart from the underlining color palette of the rest of the house. It is also where I let the plant lady go wild. Even after over a year of working in this space, the room has the power to both excite and calm me at the same time. It is a perfect place to be productive and is definitely a bright, oxygen-filled space.

This home is certainly one that stands the test of time while still having plenty of personality! Leslie, thank you for letting us in!

Follow Leslie along on Instagram at @deeplysouthernhome and check out her blog at

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Reader Design: Gemma's Artsy Home

Today, we're off to visit Gemma's bright and fresh home; this Boston place boasts a ton of quirky prints, color and texture, tons of natural light, and some seriously amazing art. Ready for the tour? 


Even the entry way smacks you with style right away! From the design extraordinaire herself:

I have a hard time defining or labeling my own design style in my home; it’s more of a feeling. I definitely have certain shapes that I prefer; for example, I always pick furniture with clean simple lines, and art tends to be the same way. I prefer minimal designs, and I don’t like anything ornate which is probably why I’m attracted to mid century furniture pieces. By sticking with fairly simple shapes, it gives me a lot of room to decorate with other aspects like color, wallpaper, art, and lighting.

Each room uses that basic formula - simple, clean furniture + geometric shapes + interesting accents - and just knocks it out of the park. The use of natural elements like wood also helps each space feel incredibly balanced. 

One of my major design goals is to have the house be interesting and inviting but not cluttered. Some areas have really bold wallpapers, but I try to keep all the other elements very simple so as not to overwhelm the room.

Even the mudroom gives a major statement!

My mudroom is a good example of an over the top wall covering, balanced by very little else in the space - necessities only. But that said, the house is comfortable. We have 3 little boys and they play all over and do what little kids do, so storage is a must. Every cabinet in our family room is packed with games, toys, legos, and stuffed animals so that they can easily access stuff they want to play with, but also put it away again.

One of the key ways Gemma adds interest is art.

My favorite design elements in our house are our pieces of art. Looking at beautiful artwork gives me such genuine pleasure and an emotional connection. We’ve collected our art from all over the place from varying sources, and the pieces are all very different. Many are one of a kind items we’ve found in vintage stores, others are from estate sales, and others are from galleries. Art is the one place we are willing to splurge.

In the bathroom, the star of the show (other than that!) is the iconic Slim Aarons Palm Springs photograph (he's a personal favorite of mine). 

Two other ways to add detail? 

Lighting is another great way to express yourself; it can be a forgotten element yet can bring so much interest into a room. And a personal favorite of mine, books - I read a ton and I love holding and having books. My next project in fact involves some serious shelving to house all of our books that are currently homeless!

This house has to be one of the most original ones I've seen in a while. What a place to raise and spend time with your family!

Gemma, thank you so much for the tour.  Follow Gemma along on Instagram @gemmavanderswaagh for more! 

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Reader Design: Laura's Homegrown Nest

Here is the first thing you need to know. Laura has SIX children, and they all live in this home. Keep that in your brain, because what you're about to see defies the odds. This is a family home that is both minimalist and eclectic, full of interesting pieces and clean lines to keep the clutter at bay.


From Laura:

I would say my style is Minimalist with a mix of traditional, mid-century modern, and global influences. Anything with calm, clean lines and a bit of pattern thrown in. I don’t want to my house to be heavy, stuffy, or imposing. I want it to be open, airy, comfortable and casual. Also uncluttered. I really like my house to feel restful and calm. I’ve got six kids so anything I can do to tame the chaos is good!

In this case, assuming that minimalist also means an absence of color would be flat-out wrong. It would also be wrong to assume that her penchant for minimalism is simply "on-trend." Nope, it's all authentically Laura.

I’m drawn to color, but I also love the all-white spaces I see, so I have tried to do a balance of both styles with a mix of white and black plus color. I know that I do best in a minimalistic environment but once in a while I’ll see a well-done non-minimalist house and I will try to trick myself into thinking I could live like that. I also have to watch it that I don’t feel like I have to have or do all the new trends—-I get really pleased with myself when I realize I’m still using lots of the furniture and accessories I have had for more than ten years because the temptation is strong to keep up with what I see on Instagram. I try to use my basic more traditional things in new ways instead.

Now let's play a round of finding the most meaningful items. In the piano room, the family uses art and maps they've collected from their many moves (to California, Florida, and Malaysia, to name a few) to decorate the space.


In the family room, there's another one:

I found the church bench on Craigslist. It was 14 feet long, and we had to cut it into two pieces just to get it home. My husband re-attached the sides to make the bench for the family room and we use the other part of the bench without arms in the rec room.

In the bedroom, Laura focuses on using mirrors and throw pillows to make the space. They know they'll only be in the home for 4 years, so they opted for small items that can really "make a space" instead of heavy-lift changes. 


Laura, thank you so much for letting us in! We love what you've done with the place and hope you and your family enjoy it as much as possible during the time you have left in it. 

Until next week,

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