House Tour: Funky Southwest Style in Alabama

Two creatives (and contributors) give us a tour of their artistic and cozy Spanish-revival bungalow in the deep South.

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Photo By: Bob Farley/f8FPhoto

Aged Finishes

Michelle Reynolds is a slipcover maker and a frequent writer for and She gave us a peek at her and husband’s colorful Birmingham bungalow.

I live in my imagination most of the time, and in the 1927 Spanish Revival bungalow I share with my photographer husband (he took all these photos), I get to travel the world through daydreams and creativity. Bold prints, bright accents, thrift-store finds, hand-me-down furniture, DIY projects, and lively art are combined and encapsulated by hardwood and Saltillo tile floors, earth-toned walls and niche spaces to display a mosaic of expression. In this house, we bring colors of the outside in to help define and convey our relationship with nature and the world at large.

Picture books of Mexican haciendas and Spanish interiors were the inspiration for the living room. Saltillo tiles, pine, teak, and wrought-iron furniture set the tone. The walls are painted in four different shades of brown, which creates the illusion of an aged plaster finish. By painting the large brick and plaster hearth with a chalky ecru paint, we gave it a slaked lime look. DIY lamps with Moroccan goatskin shades and glass globes keep the room warm and cozy, while drop cloth curtains, linen and canvas slipcovers, and a beige rug lighten the dark, lamp-lit room. Color is added to the living room with the addition of throws and pillows that are often changed out according to mood or season.

Warm, Upcycled Lighting

A DIY lamp is made with a birdcage stand and a glass globe from a thrift store and paired with a Moroccan henna table lamp, the lights provide a warm glow against the dark walls in the living room. A simple canvas slipcover refines an old vinyl-covered thrift store chair.

Day of the Dead Mascot

Thrift store and hand-me-down furniture are some of my favorite pieces, and different styles and eras get thrown together in this room along with remnants of fabrics, exotic textiles and handmade pillows. A large paper-mache skull that I made years ago for a Day of the Dead Festival, keeps watch over us. DIY lamps give a warm glow while daylight illuminates through the French doors.

Michelle's Handmade Art

This is the snake room. A rich fallen-leaf brown provides a good earthy backdrop for brightly colored textiles and fifty-one snake-inspired pieces of art. Folk art repeats the color palette across the room and through the house. A heavy antique table from a dry goods store serves as a desk and an extra dining area.


Narrow furniture is key here in our favorite room. Painted hutches provide storage space and color while a custom-made table fits the spot below the large skylight. These pieces allow for walking around space. The room also serves as a wintertime refuge for a large succulent collection. Bringing a courtyard feel to the center of the house, we opted for a color that closely mimics adobe walls, and I painted the hollow core doors and door frames to resemble the exterior doors and portals I would imagine seeing while walking through the narrow streets of an old Mexican town. Dry brushing color over colors helps give a faded patina.

Snake Bathroom

One of the first large wall hangings I made hangs over the bathtub, and behind Adam and Eve, a serpentine wainscot wraps around the room. The two-toned walls and the snake’s markings allowed me to bring a lot of color into the bathroom. Custom curtains are hung on swing rods. A stamped metal lantern was easy to wire and serves as the main light, and I used an old notched disk blade (made for tilling) for the fixture’s ceiling housing.

Naked Lady Bathroom

I chose to use a permanent marker instead of a stencil to draw the diamond pattern onto the walls in the bathroom we have dubbed the “naked lady” room. I didn’t measure or pre-mark the walls, I just went for it, and marked as quickly as I could to keep my confidence up. The wall hanging depicts how we manage to bathe our little dachshund. A stamped-tin framed mirror hangs on the wall opposite the vanity. Swing rods and DIY curtains work well for the ease in letting more light in when needed.

Colorful Kitchen

The kitchen is small, so what we lack in space, we tried to make up for in purpose, function and storage. Once a stairwell to the dreadful partially finished basement, we deemed it unusable space and turned it into a nook for the refrigerator and stove. It made better sense to use the outside basement door anyway. We wanted our kitchen to look like it belonged in Mexico, so we hand painted the cabinets, hutch, walls and trim in all of our favorite colors. Schoolhouse lights, stainless-steel appliances, a galvanized metal trash can, shelving and storage bins, and a stainless-steel kitchen table add a modern and industrial touch.

Master Bedroom

A wooden storage box was easily transformed into a rolling bench with the addition of large industrial casters and a covered body pillow for a cushion. Seasonal items like bathing suits, hats and handbags are stowed away and out of sight beneath the hinged lid. A slipcovered clothing rack gives the bedroom extra closet space without compromising style. Copper plumbing pipes rest on hooks attached to the window frames and store-bought curtains and liner panels are simply attached by clip rings. Matchstick blinds darken the room and give more privacy.

Spare Bedroom

Wall finishes and stencils in bold colors were inspired by my desire to visit Morocco. Photography and art books fill rustic pine bookshelves, and hiding beneath a tailored tablecloth is a bookshelf filled with maps and travel guides. An antique vanity mirror adds height to a hand-me-down chest of drawers and reflects light into the room. The vibrant pattern of the vintage suzani (a Central Asian embroidered tapestry) lends more homespun goodness and comfort, and oversized wall art adds more color and whimsy to the space.

Now tour Michelle's backyard studio >>

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