The Glass House: Tour an Interior Designer’s Light-Flooded, Midcentury Modern Home in Birmingham

Paula Coldiron fell in love with the natural light in her 1948 home and set out to create a space where friends and family could gather. Her gutted-to-glamorous, midcentury modern home reflects her appreciation for function, minimalism and natural elements.

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March 30, 2020

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

Inside the Glass House

Interior designer Paula Coldiron says her neighbors call her home "The Glass House" thanks to all the windows. "They know us well now, because they can see what we’re doing," she says. "They know what we have for dinner. They know what we’re watching on TV." But she fell in love with all the natural light in every room, including the living room’s large sliding glass door, and decided to make it her own.

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Living Room With a View

“This area was really dark; it was probably the darkest room in the whole house,” Paula says. But a fresh coat of white paint on the classic brick fireplace and a pop of black-and-white abstract art on the mantel helped to brighten up the space and showcase the outdoor patio from the sliding glass door. Plus, that original parquet flooring looks right at home.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Love for Wooden Elements

The natural wooden mantelpiece is original to the 1948 home. “I just loved the rough, honed look of the mantel and how it was original to the house,” Paula says. “The guy who lived here before dabbled in woodwork and the mantel is something that he did.”

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Copper Statement

Paula can't get enough of the natural light in her modern dining room. To keep the natural wood theme going, she paired a lighter toned dining table with darker wooden chairs beneath a reflective copper pendant light.

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Seeing Into the Future

Paula designed her perfect corner kitchen before she even moved in. "I knew what this [kitchen] could be," Paula says. "I could see it finished. I already saw the kitchen done. I already saw it painted out," she says.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Dressing Up the Kitchen

Paula's love for natural elements carries over into the updated kitchen. She chose to splurge on classic marble countertops and sees them as an investment. “I love the way it ages and can’t wait to see how it weathers with time,” Paula says.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Function Over Original

It might seem strange, but the stainless steel oven is positioned where the original kitchen sink used to be. And Paula didn't make that change right away. "We just let it [the layout] sit for a while, and I really got to know the kitchen and how it would function for us," Paula says.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Island Life

Paula’s renovated, modern kitchen features a classic U-shaped design with seating for four guests at the extended island. "We love to entertain," Paula says. "We're able to cook and still be part of the conversation and then lay out all the food on the counter."

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Kitchen Transparency

The dark-toned cabinets feature rippled glass panels on the doors, which allow for visibility but also keep the kitchen looking classic and refined. "How I want people to feel when they come into our home is they are at [their own] home," Paula says. "I want them to be able to go through our snack drawers, go through our refrigerators and just feel like this is also a space for them."

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Paula’s Ultimate Kitchen Cabinets

Paula’s cabinets pack a ton of storage space and neatly hide away utensils and dinnerware. The dark beadboard backsplash pairs her modern design aesthetic perfectly with traditional elements of the classic midcentury modern home. "I love a good mix," Paula says.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Beloved Hand-Me-Down Dishes

As if designed perfectly to fit into the space, Paula’s hand-me-down ironstone plates and cups, passed down from her grandmother, are displayed in the dark open-faced shelves.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Minimalism on the Mind

Paula designed all the bedrooms in her midcentury modern home. Her spacious master bedroom features a simple brass pendant light and warm hardwood floors original to the home. Just steps away is a spacious lounge area that provides guests with comfy bean bag seats and, you guessed it, a row of windows with tons of natural light.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Bean Bag Chairs? Yes, Please.

This inviting living space is filled with custom built-ins and plenty of natural light. Bean bag lounge chairs are positioned beneath a row of windows with Roman shades and just steps away from the popcorn maker.

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All the Storage

Floor-to-ceiling open-faced shelves provided Paula with plenty of space to showcase her family's collectibles in the lounge. The oversized windows are covered with custom Roman shades but can easily be raised to cozy up on a bean bag chair with a good book.

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Curated Collectibles

Paula loves open-faced shelves, as they generate a get-to-know-you kind of vibe. This one is filled with her family's unique set of collectibles, from soda bottles and rare sneakers to signed sports memorabilia.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Let There Be Sconce Lighting

Paula's self-described "light is ambience" style continues in the guest room. Modern sconces shine brightly above the bed, with flanking windows for natural light, and a simple brass chandelier as the statement piece in the room.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Industrial Closet Storage

Industrial open shelving provides lots of storage in this walk-in closet. Two clamp lights showcase a couple of framed family photos.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Colors on Display

Pops of green, yellow and red give this otherwise all-white space a youthful feeling. Paula and her daughter built the full wall headboard to perfectly fit beneath the long, high windows.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Interior Designer-in-Training

Paula’s daughter curated colorful collectibles to display. "She took the reins on designing her room. Really, it's the only room with a whole lot of color,” Paula says.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Seeing Green Built-Ins

Paula's daughter helped her design her own room and chose to liven up the crisp, white bedroom with bright green built-ins.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Curated Knickknacks

Paula's daughter filled the green built-ins in her bedroom with perfect displays of family photos, colorful books and piggy banks.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Magnetic Art Board

Artwork is a big focus in Paula's home. She hung a magnetic art board in her daughter's room, creating the perfect spot to display all her drawings.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Modern Monochrome

Paula's home office is a reflection of her design aesthetic — lots of natural light and mixed, modern furnishings. A framed chalkboard provides a nostalgic feel. Paired with an industrial white desk and black desk chairs, the space has a sleek monochrome look.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Paula's Favorite Nook

Paula loves doing laundry — yes, you heard that right. The original home featured a small room filled with freezers. So she gutted that space and created the perfect mudroom, complete with a custom wooden bench above the washer and dryer for folding fresh clothes, dark wallpapered walls, baskets and a clothing rack.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

Dreams Do Come True

“To have a historical home was a dream of mine, always," Paula says. "My mom [and I] used to drive by this neighborhood and I used to say ‘I want to live in one of those houses.'" And now she does.

WATCH THE VIDEO: The Glass House: A Modern Home in Birmingham

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