When an Architect Designs for Himself

A classical and elegant double stairwell in an architect's home with antiques and European style. Beautiful railing and black and white marble tile.
Double Barrel Stair Hall | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter

So, growing up, when all my friends were watching The Jetsons and nerding out over robots and modern, glass homes in the sky, I hunched over my college ruled “sketch pad” and drew (excellent, if I may say so) classical homes, beautiful fireplaces, and raised paneling… trying to master the art of marble graining/shading with a No. 2 Lisa Frank pencil. But, the point of this little foray into my youth is that I think I might get James Carter on a deeper level than most, which I’ll tell you more about in another post…

Anyways, for those of you that don’t know, James is a pretty big deal, and now that he can add a blog feature on Christian Daw Design to his list of accolades and features, I think the sky’s the limit.

So without further delay, this is James’ dream home.

Classical and traditional whitewashed brick home in Birmingham, AL, with shutters, a reclaimed slate roof, and an asymmetrical dormer.
James Carter’s Home | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter

In 2000, James bough a small, post-war cottage on a narrow lot in the picturesque neighborhood of Mountain Brook, in Birmingham, Alabama, and moved right in… Over a decade later, after studying the land and surrounding homes, he leveled the existing structure and started construction on a new, rambling, quirky, Georgian dream home. Then two more years later, he moved right on in…

The scale and proportion are perfect on this home. James used reclaimed slate for the roof and chose a simple whitewash for the new brick exterior, which results in a historic feel and a sort of easy grace. Also, I really have a thing for pea gravel and brick drives. So there’s that.

Beautiful and classical Georgian entryway with a black and white marble floor, brass lantern, and sisal stair runner. Navy blue doors.
Entrance Hall | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Main Stair with Simple Turnout at the Start | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
A library wall lines a classic stairwell in an elegant Georgian home. Gold-framed art and antique Persian rugs add to the space.
Library Wall in Main Stairwell | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter

Check this out… Do you see the library ladder on the far stair wall? Well, then do you see that little porthole window in the center? What do you think is on the other side? I’ll show you in a little bit. (It’s the final image below!)

Antique dresser and gold-framed architectural drawings in a formal hall of classical Georgian Home.
Main Hall | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter

The walls in the main halls are Benjamin Moore’s Alaskan Skies (one of my go-to colors), and the sconces above the that neoclassical Italian dresser (Parc Monceau) are antique, just like the rug. James actually started to collect for this house 25 years ago… And can you see a little glimpse of library in the back…? That’s where we’re headed. (Also, how many hidden doors have you spotted so far?)

Formal library, paneled with waxed antique white oak and a dignified man's portrait hangs over the fireplace.
Library in Waxed White Oak | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Gallery wall in a library with raised paneling and custom millwork in waxed antique white oak.
Library Bar | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
French doors open onto a classical garden with lead obelisk in the distance.
French doors onto the Gardenl | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter

James has such a great attention to detail, clearly, so in addition to all the woodwork (cornices, mantel, over-mantel… that classic Greek key pattern), he even designed the lead obelisk you can see in the garden.

Side door of a classical Georgian home with vertical shiplap paneled walls and a container of walking sticks.
Off-black Side Door Entry Hall | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Classic navy blue and gold kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a chimney hood, and an island made of custom cabinetry.
Kitchen | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
An apricot orange colored, octagonal dinning room with antiques and custom window treatments.
Octagoal Dinning in Apricot| Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Navy blue butler's pantry with custom cabinetry and brass hardware.
Butler’s Pantry| Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Shiplap clad butler's Pantry.
Pantry Entrance| Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Hall | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Checkerboard black and white marble tile in an entry hall with brass lanterns.
Hall | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Charming master bathroom with striped fabric walls and built in cabinetry.
Bath | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter
Green walls and sconces in a chanrming master bedroom with a fireplace and antiques.
Strong and Cozy Green | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter

The walls are Cushing Green, by Benjamin Moore. James describes the color as, “strong and cozy.”

Green master bedroom with antique four poster bed and fireplace.
Bedroom | Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter

So when a pretty prolific architect has over a decade to design his own dream home, this is what you get, I love it.

So James, do you Airbnb? Because… um… I have some very important business in Birmingham.

AND, FRIENDS, DO YOU REMEMBER THAT LITTLE PORTHOLE WINDOW FROM UP ABOVE??? Well it opens up onto the most charming little office nook… retreat… man cave? Complete with a gallery wall of personal photographs, nestled privately on the side. Love it.

Office nook with porthole window and antique desk.
Hidden Office| Featured on Christian Daw Design | Photo by Annie Schlecter