Text: Robert C. Martin
Mountain Brook, Alabama, is acclaimed as much for its beautiful homes and pristine yards as for the congenial neighbors and village-clustered shops that comprise it. Within this amicable setting, architect Chris Reebals found a vacant house that sat on the crest of a hill and saw an opportunity for his firm, Christopher Architecture and Interiors, to take on the roles of both client and makeover artists. Known as the Christopher Showhouse, it was assembled to acquaint and inspire the community with the latest looks and most up-to-date amenities while also promoting a more urgent endeavor.
“We designed this house to be a progression of experiences in which something new and unique lay around every corner, rather than just a straight on, approach.” —Chris Reebals
During the preliminary stages of planning the showhouse, Reebals was introduced to Kayla Perry, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18. Because her condition typically afflicts children and not young adults, she was completely caught off guard. But rather than give up hope, in 2014 Kayla founded an organization called Open Hands Overflowing Hearts (OHOH) to raise money for pediatric cancer research. “Since I have a family member who’s also battling leukemia, Kayla’s story struck close to home for me,” Reebals explains. “It just made sense to use the showhouse as a means of partnering with OHOH.” He decided that proceeds from ticket sales would help fund the quest for a cure, which in turn provided a new kind of motivation for him and his firm to make this their best project yet.
The initial concept for the home—a vision of sweeping, cedar-shake roofs, lovely terraces, and impeccable interiors—was nothing short of a designer’s dream. As the company name suggests, CAI is blessed with a well-rounded group of architects and interior designers, and the chance for them to collaborate on a project of this caliber seemed only fitting. “It was a rare event of unbridled creativity, you could say,” Reebals says. “This house allowed the CAI team to not only fully explore what we could do, but also give the wonderful assortment of skilled craftsmen and vendors, many of whom frequently work with us, a chance to shine.”