by Robert C. Martin | Photography by John O’Hagan
“To emulate this English Country aesthetic, we specified textured stone, board-and-batten siding, and steeply pitched rooflines with flared ridges,” says architect Jeff Dungan.
This rustic-inspired home overlooking the scenic foothills and valleys of Birmingham, Alabama, appears to be centuries old. But such an impressive allusion to the past wasn’t always the case. The views, of course, had always been there, yet the evocative, handcrafted nature of the place—well, that’s a different story.
Originally a rambling hodgepodge of dated spaces, this residence made little attempt to capitalize on the picturesque setting. Instead, its U-shaped configuration surrounded a swimming pool that extended to the front yard. “The whole complex seemed like a series of shoeboxes linked together, with the pool as the main focal point,” says the homeowner. “Not only did we want the house to be more outwardly focused, but we also knew the pool had to go.”
Because their previous home had been very formal and symmetrical in nature (patterned after the famous James River plantation, Carter’s Grove), the couple was ready to settle down into a totally different, more relaxed environment. Although their first inclination was to tear everything down, they instead decided to turn to architect Jeff Dungan for help. “The owners weren’t satisfied with the existing conditions, so I agreed to ‘doctor’ things up,” Dungan explains. Armed with the home’s original plans and photos from the owners, he immediately began sketching.