Written by Lindsey Osborne
photography by Edward Badham
When Joel and Shelby Kimerling moved into their Mountain Brook home in 2014, they did something that’s very hard to do: They exercised patience. “We wanted to live in the home for awhile so we could decide what rooms we used most,” explains Shelby of their decision to hold off on remodeling for more than a year. Joel had bought the house in 2012, and Shelby joined him in it after she finished school in Tuscaloosa and they got married. “This house just felt right. It had all of the rooms that we were looking for and the opportunity to make them our own,” Shelby says. The house, built in 1973, was particularly special because of its location, very close to where Shelby grew up. “After he explained where the house was, I immediately knew what house it was,” Shelby says. “I didn’t need to see it to know that it was perfect! I had grown up a few streets over and had always admired the house.”
Once they were married, they did some living and entertaining in their new home to feel out what places needed their attention most. “After having multiple gatherings at the house, we knew what rooms to focus on while remodeling and redecorating,” Shelby says. “We wanted our home to reflect our personalities but also be ‘user friendly.’ We wanted our friends and family to walk into our house and be able to tell that it was our home.” When they did embark on the remodel—which took three and a half months and was headed up by Shelby’s father, Wayne Suttle, a general contractor—they put most of their energy and resources into revamping the kitchen, which they expanded, since they’d found that that’s where many people gathered when they hosted get-togethers. They also turned a half bath off of the kitchen into a bar and added a large lounge space in the kitchen to make entertaining even easier. Their changes made the kitchen their new favorite part of their home. “Of course, the kitchen, like in most homes, is the center of our daily lives and entertaining lives. We knew when remodeling that this would be the case—no matter how hard we try, people would always migrate to the kitchen,” Shelby says. “Knowing this, we made the living room and dining room a place where people felt comfortable coming to sit and relax. We focused on making the kitchen flow into the dining room and living room as much as possible.”
Shelby, along with her sister, Shannon Adams, did all of the interior design, which is fitting—the girls just opened Kellum & Company, a furniture and home goods store, in Homewood. Shelby and Adams sourced many of the finishing touches in the Kimerling home from vendors they also use to supply the store. Though their style has an obvious modern flair to it, it incorporates a number of aesthetics to give it a one-of-a-kind feel. “Our style being so eclectic has given us the opportunity to add pieces as we please. I feel as if we are not married to a certain style and we have a nice balance of old vs. new, traditional vs. modern, French vs. regency, etc.,” Shelby says. “As odd as it sounds to incorporate multiple styles into a home, it seems to be bold and yet there is a harmony that you could never achieve if you were to just decorate with one style with pieces that had no meaning to you.”
They have incorporated a number of family tribute pieces, like their kitchen table, which has belonged to Joel’s family for many years; the dining room artwork, painted by Art Price, is also a piece that Joel’s parents gifted them. But perhaps their favorite touch hangs above the couch in their living room. It’s a portrait by Susan Oliver of Jäger, their 7-year-old Vizsla, who rules the roost in the Kimerling home. “We like to say, ‘This is Jäger’s house. We just live in it,’” Shelby says.
Shelby points out that the house is ever-evolving and will likely always be that way. “I don’t think I will ever feel like the decorating is ‘done’ with any house,” she says. “Owning a furniture store, I am constantly seeing new styles and thinking of new ways to incorporate new pieces into our home.” In fact, it was remodeling and decorating the house that inspired Shelby and Adams to bring Kellum & Company to Birmingham, since they had to go elsewhere to find many of the things they were looking for while decorating. “After remodeling and decorating our home, it really inspired us to bring a unique vibe to the Birmingham retail furniture market,” Shelby says. “It opened our eyes to what someone who is decorating and remodeling is in need of to complete their home and make it one-of-a-kind.”