Fine Lines

When Walter and Audrey Stewart wanted to create a unique European-inspired dream home in Liberty Park, they hired Alex Krumdieck. The result is a modern masterpiece in architecture.

Written and Photographed by Graham Yelton


From the moment you first get a glimpse of the Stewart residence, you know that your standard for excellence is about to get a little steeper. The magnificence of the house hits you from the driveway and continues throughout the 7,000 square feet of well-designed space. Every inch has been thoughtfully designed for function; each problem is solved with minimalism and sophistication. Every shape and line has been coordinated. Each texture and finish has been carefully considered.

“We feel like we’re not just living in a house, but a work of art.”

After falling in love with a hilltop lot in Liberty Park, Walter and Audrey Stewart interviewed six architects in the Southeast before landing on Alex and Jeannie Krumdieck of Krumdieck Architecture. Because of Audrey’s German heritage, the couple wanted to incorporate a European feel into the design of the home. Alex Krumdieck’s Peruvian background set him apart from the other contenders.  “We were looking for someone who would design a house for us and not a house that would simply have their stamp on it,” the Stewarts say. “We were not looking to build a typical Birmingham home, but instead a modern home that would be an oasis in the city. We wanted it to be functional and live in all areas of the home.”

The couple definitely had a vision of what they wanted. At the top of the list was the need for a lot of natural light, without the use of skylights. Next, they wanted to make sure that their new home looked like it had been on the lot forever and was incorporated into the landscape. Finally, an essential “must have” in a clutterless home was luxurious closets and storage. “Alex listened to what we wanted and interpreted our desires into a design that exceeded our expectations,” they say. “After just six weeks of design work, Alex unrolled the first blueprint and revealed our dream home. We did not change a thing.”

While their confidence in Krumdieck never wavered, there were moments of skepticism and plenty of setbacks. Initially, the lot required extensive earth moving in order to lay the footings properly. The custom details throughout the house took the initial 12-month build time to 26 months.

The front door opens up to a M.C. Escher-like floating staircase and dramatic artwork that, upon first glance, appears to be a map. Closer inspection reveals that it’s natural onyx stone. The foyer opens up into a hallway of windows and African mahogany ceilings. Dramatic morning light flows in, creating a pattern play across the sleek limestone floors. At the end of the hallway hangs another onyx panel, this time resembling fossilized wood.

The gallery hallway lies adjacent to an open living space, complete with a stone fireplace, modern sofas, and a floating custom coffee table. The lines between inside and outside are blurred by frameless windows and large views of the outdoor landscape. The exterior stone finish of the house bleeds almost seamlessly into the interior of the house. Above, there is a series of repeated windows, allowing natural light to flood every corner of the room.

Just past the gallery hallway lies another long and dramatic hallway, lined with metallic leading lines that seem to continue from one hallway to the next. As you walk through the doorless entry, the lines convert into the bookshelf that lines the cozy master suite media room. The hallway takes a right, and you sneak a peak at the master bedroom and bathroom. Complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, frosted glass panels, and polished limestone walls, the bathroom feels like a modern secluded spa retreat.

BMetro_gy_Feb_113Moving from room to room, one notices that there are no visible doors throughout the house. All spaces are open and flow from one to the next. “We did not want doors or separate spaces,” the couple explains. “We wanted to live together everywhere in the home. The “his and her” vanity is a back-to-back island. We enjoy being together and wanted our spaces to reflect that. Jeannie and Alex Krumdieck suggested hanging the onyx panels as a reoccurring theme throughout the house. It was thought that these panels would make good separators in lieu of doors.”

During the week, the Stewarts spend their mornings in the kitchen and keeping room. Audrey’s love for organization and clean design inspired the custom German cabinets in the kitchen, which conveniently hide all dishes, appliances, and two vertical sliding pantries. The kitchen looks out onto the infinity pool and heated loggia, where the couple hosts Super Bowl parties and get togethers. “We really live all over the house,” they say. “We did not build any space we would not use. It’s like a vacation retreat and our home in one place, just 20 minutes from town.”

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