Photography by Edward Badham
Start at the wraparound porch and you should understand what Alison Hudnall saw in her mind when envisioning her dream home. The porch is deep and inviting, and looks out on a green space with a traditional bandstand in this Tuscaloosa, Alabama, neighborhood. A growing residential area north of the river, this community is a new neighborhood that feels like it has been here a long time.
That sense of timeless community and sanctuary is exactly what Hudnall and her husband, Matt, were trying to create in building this new home for their family. The couple has two children. “We designed the house to fit the lot,” Hudnall says. “The front porch is open with porch bed swing, the side porch is screened in. We wanted a porch, but we also wanted the porch to be usable, so we added the screen.” There is an outdoor fireplace in the screened-in portion. It opens out into a courtyard with lighting. “It is a great place to entertain,” Hudnall says. “My husband and I even host movies at the park with our homeowner’s association.”
Hudnall acted as the general contractor on the construction of the home, which took place over an 18-month period. “My background has always been in real estate. I worked for a local luxury home developer, which was a challenge during the economic downturn. But I learned a great deal. I understand floor plans and how to make them fit a lifestyle,” Hudnall says. Construction was complete in December 2013. “We finished with just enough time to throw up a Christmas tree for that first holiday in the new house,” she says with a laugh.
A real estate broker who is now a stay-at-home mom, Hudnall used 3-D drawing software on her iPad to connect the dots in visualizing her new home. “Once I moved in, it felt like I had been doing this for a lifetime,” she says. While designing their home, the couple made every square foot count. Large at 5,413 square feet, the house features five bedrooms and five and a half baths.
There is no formal foyer, just functional space that overlooks the porch. When you enter the front door, you immediately see the living room, dining room, and kitchen in a completely open floor plan. “I am a huge cook with a kitchen that is the heartbeat of the home and I wanted it open to everything,” Hudnall says of the open concept.
The master bedroom is on the main floor, along with an additional main-floor bedroom, each with a full bath. The master is cozy with plenty of light, and the master bath is actually larger than the bedroom. Upstairs is a huge playroom that serves as a central hub for the children and their toys, games, and television. There are two bedrooms for the children upstairs overlooking that beautiful park, plus a guest room. There is also a home theatre with raised platform seating.
Among the design innovations was a complete electrical plan drawn for a tech-savvy home. Matt has a master’s in computer science and is pursuing his Ph.D., so a technically advanced wired house was a must.
While Hudnall served as the general contractor of the home build, she worked with some fantastic subcontractors and vendors, she says. “The architects made what I was telling them come to life,” she says.
Chuck Frusterio and Adam Little of the Frusterio Design Group in Birmingham were the home designers on the project. Frusterio loves the subtle mixture of architectural styles in the home, and the influx of natural light and flow from indoor to outdoor spaces. “A long, narrow lot always presents the challenge of creating an open feel in the living spaces. We arranged the rooms in a way that provides flow and functionality, with enough separation to give each space its individuality. The home also sits on a corner lot, which requires designing a house with two front facades and maintaining a pleasing aesthetic on the 100-foot deep side of the house,” Frusterio says. “We strive to create a team approach with the client and builder, and keep prompt communication and efficient project management from the inception of the design process through the completion of the build.”
According to Adam Little, the firm’s goal is always to design a home that exceeds client’s expectations, both functionally and aesthetically, and that blends with its surrounding landscape and structures. With this project, Little, all those boxes were checked.
Gracefully Done of Northport, Alabama, assisted with the staging of this home.