When you drive up to Amanda and Allen Stringfellow’s modern Mountain Brook home, you would never guess its traditional origins as a single story, cedar-shingled house built in 1955. “We used to live in Cahaba Heights, and we would drive around on Sundays trying to figure out where we wanted to be. The house next door to this one was for sale, and we ended up being the back-up offer” recalls Amanda.
Luckily, when that house didn’t work out, their current home came on the market just a few weeks later, and all of the pieces fell into place. “We just loved this street and even when we were looking at that first house, I really loved the house next door,” Amanda remembers. Surrounded by trees and beautiful green foliage and with an incredible ridgeline view, the Stringfellows saw the potential of what the traditional house could be and began plans to transform it into the modern beauty that it is today.
And who better to handle the design than the homeowner? Allen, having worked with the architecture firm Henry Sprott Long & Associates in high school and then initially studying architecture at Auburn University, not only designed the home but also oversaw the construction. “ Looking back, the house was really a teardown, but we had a plan to make use of the existing bones and stuck to it over the years doing small to medium renovations as funds allowed us to keep up with our expanding numbers.”
After purchasing the house in 2006, and with their family growing and a need for more space, Allen and Amanda would eventually stage four renovations - the last one being the largest. The first renovation in 2007 included adding a 2 car garage with a suite above to allow Amanda’s parents, who live out of town, to come and stay comfortably. In 2011, they added a swimming pool along with a huge retaining wall to give the property a usable backyard for the couple’s two boys and one more on the way. The third renovation in 2014 entailed filling in the old rear screened porch to create a more spacious family room. For the final and largest renovation, begun in 2018, Allen brought his modernist vision to fruition by tearing the house down to its foundation, adding a second story and huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and creating the open, light spaces that you find today upon entering the home. Despite the large scale changes, the Stringfellows chose to work within the original foundation blueprint including keeping the original chimney that now shines in the keeping room.
When asked about their decision to renovate in stages, Amanda reflects, “I don’t regret the way we did it at all. We took it down to the ground, but we kept the basic floorplan. When we were planning, we were asking ourselves ‘what do we want to change?’ We loved what we’d done, but how do we make it work with what we’re about to do?”
Just as Allen had been the perfect person to design the overall concept of the house, Amanda was in the perfect position to help compose the interiors with designer Shea Bryars who she works with as an assistant. Amanda wanted to keep the interiors clean but comfortable for their family of five - including 3 sons now aged 15, 13, and 10. White walls in Sherwin Williams Pure White provide a crisp backdrop for the Stringfellow’s impressive art collection - including standout pieces of colorful, hand-cut linoleum prints made by Allen’s mother, Shirley Anne Stringfellow, who studied Art at the University of Alabama in the 1970s.
Woods found in the kitchen’s white-oak cabinetry, the staircase’s reclaimed heart-pine, and the family room’s custom coffee table all create a feeling of warmth while also giving a nod to Allen’s role as a fifth generation owner of his family’s lumber company, Mid-South Lumber Co., Inc. Shea and Amanda chose design accents of dark gray and green to bring the outdoors in and create a clean but comfortable environment for the family.
What began as a Sunday drive in 2006, now stands as a testament to one family’s thoughtful renovation of a home that both looks to the future while still retaining elements of its past.
For more of Shea’s work, visit sheabryarsdesign.com or follow her on Instagram @sheabryarsdesign.
Photographed by: Jean Allsopp