Made to Last

A picture-perfect home on the hillside of Highland Park is transformed into a timeless interior.

Written and Photographed by Graham Yelton


When Steve Fleming set out in search of the perfect home, his realtor Dorothy Tayloe was skeptical that they would find it. “I had a long list of requirements,” says Fleming. “Low maintenance, a city view, a place for my piano, and a spot for the pool table.” The matchmaking search wasn’t easy, and they saw a lot of “interesting” homes during that time. It was September of 2012 when Fleming stepped foot into the 3100-square-foot Highland home, and he immediately felt a connection. Fleming wasted no time calling on his old friends David Lee Walker and Sean Beam of Richard Tubb Interiors. Their blessing was perhaps the fifth requirement on the list.

As with any good courtship, the buying process took months and was full of ups and downs. Finally, in June of 2013, the house was his and without hesitation, the contractor, James Boohaker, began light renovations on the home, this dark house dressed in white. Every surface, from baseboard to ceiling, was painted a fresh, clean white, including the cherry-colored cabinets in the kitchen. Floors were refinished in the perfect custom stain. Lastly, the copper-tiled kitchen backsplash was replaced with fresh white subway tile.

On move-in day, the team assembled.

This was not the first time that Fleming had worked with Walker and Beam. Twelve years earlier, the team began helping Fleming with a renovation in Mountain Brook, a project that spanned years and several phases. Over time, with the help of his design duo, Fleming had a house full of beautiful antiques and quality furnishings, not to mention an art collection that could rival a small gallery. So when it came time to move into the new house, the team was eager to see if these furnishings would hold up in a completely different environment.

“Moving in was fun to watch,” recalls Fleming. “Sean would take a piece from the old living room, a piece from the old den, and a piece from the old bedroom and place them all together.”

“It’s fun to do a house like that,” says Beam, “where we can transform the things they’ve had for years.”

Fleming adds, “I can finance houses, but I couldn’t decorate to save my life. I know the right look, but that’s where they’ve been helpful–they know my style, they know my budget, and it just works.”

It’s obvious that the entire team works well together. There is a mutual trust and collaboration, with the end goal of creating a timeless space that truly represents Fleming. “We are huge advocates of doing it right, as opposed to doing it right now,” Walker explains. “Sometimes people will ask us if a piece is ‘on-trend’ but we’re not concerned with trends. We want to create interiors that last.”

Fleming’s investment in quality pieces paid off, and a simple coat of white paint on the walls breathed new life into them. Fleming’s passion for art is also evident throughout the home, whether it’s small pieces bought while traveling overseas, whimsical vintage French advertisements and illustrations, or sculpture work by his cousin, Frank Fleming. “The tortoise and hare are my favorite. They look like they’re just going to get up and take off!” he says. Just above the sculpture, Fleming had the brilliant idea to frame two square pieces of black and gold wrapping paper that he admired. The house is layered with perfectly curated objects and artwork. Years earlier, Fleming commissioned local artist and decorator Marcia Unger to create a piece of art for his living room. The colorful canvas now hangs over the fireplace.

Despite the exceptional interior, Fleming admits to spending most of his time on the back patio. “We’ll sit out there with a beverage and blanket and play a nerdy game we like to call, ‘Where is that plane going?’” Fleming says with a laugh. Even on days when the weather isn’t ideal, Fleming enjoys watching the thunder and lightning roll into town.

It’s obvious that he has grown to love the home even more over time. “It’s close to work, I have a view of the city, it’s low maintenance, and I have a place for my piano,” he says, checking his requirements off the list. The pool table never found a home in the new house, but for Fleming, the house is still perfect.





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