Tour a Museum-Like Loft Filled With Beautiful Things

Chatham Hellmers is a former boutique owner turned fine-jewelry seller who has a keen eye for items worth keeping.

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Photo By: Kyle Carpenter

Museum-Like Living

Birmingham, Alabama, is home to many wonderful things, but Chatham Hellmers and her eclectic home full of unique found and collected items have to be near the top of the list.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Story-Filled Space

“It’s immediately very impactful and hopefully very transformative,” Chatham says about the effect of her space on her guests. It's easy to sense how passionate she is about the story her home tells.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Wide Open Space

Ever since she was 13, Chatham has dreamed of living in a spacious loft. “I remember seeing a converted grocery store in Chicago that was just basically a giant room and thought it was the best thing since the invention of peanut butter.” She adds that when she first toured her current space, she lay dramatically on the floor, turned to her husband and said, “If we don’t get this place, I’ll die.”

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Modern Aspirations

The architect-owned space was minimalistic when they first moved in, and in desperate need of a Chatham-style makeover. She describes her initial inspiration for the space as “1970s-Scarface-ultra-modern,” and laughs as she mentions how quickly those ideas went out the window.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

A Complete 180

She quickly realized she had too much stuff to even aspire to the minimalist look and shifted her design ideas elsewhere. Instead, the home soon became a masterful museum of thoughtfully curated items from different seasons of Chatham's life.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Estate Sale Treasures

Beneath the clever guise of shopping for one of her several boutiques, Chatham would travel to estate sales. Though she would buy some items for her store she is admittedly known to hoard away the best items upon her return.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Hoarder-in-Training

Chatham credits her hoarding tendencies to growing up on Long Island and collecting stuff on the beach. To her, they were treasures. To this day, if she sees a beautiful shell in an estate sale or antique mall, she buys it every time.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

An Eye for the Finer Things

Though her days as a boutique owner are in the past, Chatham now spends her time selling fine jewelry, which is reflected in the home's decor. “I think my love of both fine and costume jewelry shows not only in the abundance of metallic and shiny objects, but the jewelry box-like display of the objects.”

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Walk on the Wild Side

“I always kind of wanted to pet a fox,” Chatham laughs as she shows off her stuffed fox. This is one of the many curious items she has in her space. She doesn’t always know the full story of the item, but that is part of what makes them special.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

A Love Story

When surveying Chatham’s collection, you sense a theme. She loves ridiculous, ghoulish and sometimes even — in her words — "dumb" things. It isn’t always obvious, but there's an accomplished consistency among the very different items that coexist.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Strategic Shopping

Chatham's traveling method is down to a science. She packs as lightly as possible using a bag that will fit under her seat. However, she brings along plenty of collapsible bags to stuff full of whatever treasures she may find. For her, leaving something behind because she doesn’t have the room just isn’t an option.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Gallery Wall Goals

One of the most notable moments in the Hellmers' home is the impressive floor-to-ceiling gallery wall that spans a massive space. Chatham lovingly refers to it as “a giant, GIANT pain-in-the-a** to hang.”

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Love at Every Sight

Though it was a pain that lasted six months, the gallery remains her favorite DIY project in the entire house. This love comes from the fact that every time she sits down and looks at the wall, she notices another ridiculous thing that brings a smile to her face.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Invisible Collection

Though the space seems like a complete collection of all the cool things to be had in the world, Chatham assures us that for everything visible, there is another matching item jammed in a storage closet or, as she puts it, “jammed up where anything is jammable.”

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

A Fancy Storage Solution

“This guy is a pretty handy-dandy storage spot for stuff that I’ll never use but is extremely fancy,” Chatham jokes as she reaches into her stove. It’s easy to see where her priorities lie as she refers to her beautiful gas stove as “a fancy paperweight and a storage box.”

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Color-Coordinated Bliss

While the gallery wall may be Chatham’s favorite DIY project in the home, she says the library is her favorite space. The color-coordinated shelves effortlessly defend her decision as they are sure to draw anybody in to relax in the comfy yellow chair beneath them.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

A Hue-tiful Moment

Though it’s almost hard to believe, Chatham assures us that she didn’t collect the books based on their color. “I just happened to have so many books that I could eventually arrange them by color,” she laughs.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Creating Zones With Furniture

Because the loft is so open, Chatham has tried to create zones with furniture groupings. This, of course, was made easier due to her extensive collection of charming furniture pieces.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

A Breath of Fresh Air

The main living area is a great example of a furniture-defined zone. The oversized couch and the rugs anchor the relaxing space. The decor and collectible pieces are a little fewer and farther between, and a massive window towers over the space making the area feel like a breath of fresh air.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Eye of a Designer

To help the space look cohesive, Chatham intentionally groups similar items and limits the overall color palette. This intentionality and awareness are what sets her apart. She not only sees the value and beauty in her items, but knows how to accentuate them with smart design.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Creature Comforts

What does every home need? “Books and pets. A comfy place to park your butt,” Chatham responds. It's enough to make anyone appreciate her space all the more. Though her home is filled with historic and magical objects, the simple comforts make it feel like home.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Elevated and Elegant

This design strategy evolved from Chatham’s realization that since she’s not willing to edit her stuff, she has to edit something about it. At times, this commitment to good design presents great challenges. The end result, however, makes her space feel elevated and elegant.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

A Transformative Space

“When people are in here, I definitely want them to feel first, welcome, second, kind of transformed and third ... it would be kind of cool if they felt curious,” Chatham says. She recognizes the impact her space has on her and passionately wants others to experience the same thing.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Get Curious

Chatham even goes so far to encourage guests to explore and even open a cabinet or two. This inclination reinforces her strong desire for her space to move people and shows just how much she believes in the beauty and transformative value of the items stored in her home.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Cabinet of Curiosity

“Cabinet of curiosity”: These are the three words Chatham chose to describe her home and she couldn’t be more spot on. Entering the space feels like entering a cabinet filled with the world's most intriguing items, each piece with a unique backstory.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

A Fun-Filled Home

“It’s all kind of joyful,” Chatham says of her home's contents. “Even if it’s not terribly well organized, it’s still fun to look at.” We couldn’t agree more.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Tour a Self-Appointed Maximalist's Birmingham Home

Shop This Look

More from:

Handmade Home Tours