Photo Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck
When Chicago-based designer, Brynn Olson, returned to Birmingham, Alabama, to renovate her childhood home for her parents, she looked no further than the Summer Classics Home flagship store nearby. “Their headquarters are in town and the vast array of modern and traditional Gabby pieces they offer was a perfect fit,” Brynn says.
Built in 1993, Brynn’s family home remained as it was for 25 years. This is the place she had her first sleepovers, first date, and family dinners and movie nights. When her empty-nester parents were ready to renovate, she knew updates were needed to make it their home, but she also wanted to ensure that it would be a place that she would love to come home to. Here she shares some of her insights on the renovation and interior design:
Where did you start?
The kitchen! I knew this would make the greatest impact on the lives of my parents. Our design mantra, “How you shape your space will shape your day,” is the ethos that directly translated to the design and flow of how the new kitchen functions.
What was your design inspiration?
We paid tribute to our Italian heritage by working with Bertazzoni appliances—a fifth generation Italian family-owned company. An Italian Calacutta slab from Aria Stone Gallery acts as a natural piece of art. With SC Home being filled with Gabby’s transitional style, it made the perfect fit for finishing touches, such as the Frederick Counter Stools.
What a terrific breakfast room! The light wood finishes on the Gabby pieces look fabulous against the navy walls and all those window—not to mention the herringbone pattern on the floor! How did you create that balance of light and dark?ph
Our go-to approach with color is to make sure the foundation is neutral enough to withstand the test of time. We took the color plunge because of the amazing natural light. The deep navy Phillip Jeffries wallpaper is tailored enough for a classic look and the blue allows for a dramatic wow-statement to set off furnishings and complement adjacent areas.
The family room has a modern edge but it is still so comfortable and cozy. We love the transitional look!
I wanted to create multiple seating areas so anybody could enjoy the space. (We have family ranging from age 3 to 103!) I created a coloring spot for the grandkids with the Joseph Bench and Burnett Console Table. When not they aren’t visiting, the bench tucks beneath the console, and the console has leaves that easily fold up and out of the way. For adults, the Helena Sofa and Baldwin Rocking Swivel are incredibly comfortable for conversation or watching TV. The kids love to pile on the Gayle King Bench in front of the media cabinet during movie time. (It also becomes extra seating if needed.) There truly is something for everyone. The result is an updated transitional space with elements of modern and nods to the traditional to keep in tuned with this southern renovation.
I fell in love the Hazel Chest two years ago at High Point Market and spotted it as one of my top 20 favorite pieces of the entire market. So when I found it at SC Home, I was so excited! I love the throwback to the English chest but modern vibe with the Lucite and brass handles. I used a pair of them for storage in the family room.
For your family home, you started completely over with Gabby furniture from SC Home. Still, the house holds lots of memories. What are the keys to creating a lived-in look and a well-layered interior?
Accessories are just as important as the furniture to make a room truly wow-worthy. (See SC Home’s Unique Finds!) Mix in items from your travels along with vintage and flea market finds that just speak to you. Also, make sure you allot enough money in your budget for throws and pillows (Gabby and Summer Classics have a new pillow line – Wendy Jane!).
Why do you shop Gabby and Summer Classics?
My firm has been working with Gabby since I opened my doors. It started with wanting to support a hometown business, but I continue to work with them because of the vast array of styles offered at price points my clients love. It’s a win-win.
What do you miss most about Birmingham (besides your family)?
I miss the slower pace. I also miss the ability to drive to a store and pull up to a free parking spot (not so novel, but a treat up here!)
What do you love about Chicago?
The city’s history and architecture really fuel me, inspire my designs, and feed my passions. It’s no wonder I currently reside in a turn-of-the-century four flat with original wood floors, charming moldings, and soaring windows and ceilings in the heart of Lincoln Park.
How do Chicago homes and design differ from Birmingham?
Southerners embrace an updated/refined traditional look. Our clients in Chicago gravitate towards light, bright, and transitional styles.
Brynn Olson Design Group, LLC.
1000 N Halsted Street Suite#203
Chicago, IL 60642