A House in the hills

With 30 home renovations under his belt and a love for Birmingham’s historic neighborhoods, Tim Burt completes his latest project.

By Mary Ellen Stancill,  Photos by Beau Gustafson

Tim Burt’s love affair with Birmingham’s historic neighborhoods began when he was in high school. On weekend visits from his hometown of Anniston, Tim dreamed about the homes perched on the side of Red Mountain, overlooking downtown Birmingham. “I remember seeing these houses up here on this hill and thinking, ‘That would be so cool to one day be able to live there,’” Burt says. Today his dream is a reality in his “villa on the side of the hill,” as he refers to his Mediterranean-style, stucco home.

After working for Pier 1 Imports for a decade, leaving the company as market coordinator for the Washington, D.C. area, Burt returned to his native Alabama and renovated a condemned building on Fifth Avenue South across the street from Avondale Park. While living upstairs and running his store Parkside Home and Garden downstairs (Burt now leases the building to the owners of Parkside Café), he slowly began buying and restoring historic structures in the Avondale, Forest Park, Norwood, Crestwood and Redmont neighborhoods. He estimates he’s completed renovations on 30 homes and seven buildings and was a founding member of the Avondale Park Architectural Review Board. “This part of town has its own heart,” says Burt. “People look out for one another and we care about each other.” Five years ago Burt purchased his current residence in the Redmont neighborhood.

Built in the early 1920s by Massey Business College founder Richard W. Massey for his daughter, Elizabeth Massey McCoy, the modestly-sized house (just over 2,000 square feet) is truly tucked away on the side of a hill, hidden from view at street level. A garden door gives the house a presence from the road, and a path lined with oakleaf hydrangeas, Knock Out roses, Lady Banks roses, Kimberly Queen ferns and azaleas leads guests down to the home, where a wisteria-woven railing encloses a patio that is almost as large as the interior of the house. “It’s a small house, but the outdoor spaces make it seem very large,” Burt says. “The outdoor furniture is as comfortable as the indoor furniture. I entertain outside and live outside as much as I do inside.” He adds that he can entertain hundreds of people at a time with indoor and outdoor spaces. He recently completed construction on an enclosed deck to further expand the outdoor living options of the home. Jeff McGhee, vice-president of the Forest Park neighborhood association, offered assistance on the landscape design.

The home has seen several noted owners over the years, including Raymond Weeks, who worked with President Eisenhower to establish a National Veterans Day, and retired Circuit Court Judge Sandra Storm, who established the first juvenile drug court in Alabama. But when Burt bought the home, it had not seen any major renovations in 30 years. Repairing the foundation and cracked walls were the first projects Burt tackled, but the work morphed into gutting the kitchen and redoing both the plumbing and electrical systems.

Originally a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, Burt recently completed renovations to convert a basement stairwell into a half bath on the main level. Upstairs, he took two tiny bedrooms and combined them into a spacious master suite. He also renovated the master bathroom and created a laundry room upstairs. “I did what you normally wouldn’t do in a house,” Burt says. “The rule is you don’t ever take away a bedroom, but everybody I talked to, even realtors, said this is an unusual situation because the house is so perfect for entertaining. People who are going to live here are not going to need three bedrooms. They’d rather have a master suite and a guest room.”

But the centerpiece of the home, the gracious living room, remained relatively untouched during Burt’s renovations. The 30 -foot-tall cathedral ceiling makes the small space live much larger. Soaring windows allow a flood of natural light and unobstructed views of the gardens and downtown. An original working fireplace has a chimney that splits to go around an interior balcony from the second story. Painting rooms a crisp white and staining the original wood floors a dark, ebony color created an adaptable palette for Burt to expertly complete the décor of the home.

“Decorating and renovating are two totally different things,” Burt says. “You can decorate in any style you want, update it, make it look fresh. But to renovate, especially with the fixtures and lighting, you need to stick with the style of the house.” Tim chose a pair of iron light fixtures for the living room that compliment the Mediterranean style of the home. “I want you to ask, ‘Now are those original?’” he says.

Burt has spent years working in the interior design business and owning his own stores—at its peak, there were five locations of Parkside Home and Garden; there is currently a single store in Savannah, Ga. He certainly has the experience and resources he needs to create a beautiful home. “I love to have things that are made locally,” he says. From craftsman who create furniture from architectural relics, to a fire screen forged at Frontera, to pillows found at Urban Suburban in Crestwood and made by a local artist to art, particularly work by Birmingham artists Charles Neugent, Tres Taylor and Victor Lawrence, Tim’s love for Birmingham is reflected around every corner in his home.


Carpentry: Will Raney

Fine Finishes and

Custom Woodwork:

Tom Hagood

Tile work:

Nathan Madden

2 Responses to “A House in the hills”

  1. Kevin Talley says:

    The tile work in this house was also done by me and I don’t see my name mentioned. Tim said he gave you my name and company. What happened? How come my name wasn’t used? Nathan Madden didn’t do the tile work for the renovations. I did ( Kevin Talley of Talley Tile And Stone). Please make this right.

    • Tim Burt says:

      Kevin did a great job on the tile in the new master bath….photos of the bath did not make the magazine unfortunately…his work will hopefully be featured in upcoming shoots. Nathan Madden did the tile work on the terrace and much of the slate work in the garden which is featured,…thank you to you both.

Leave a Reply for Kevin Talley