They finish each other’s sentences. Borrow each other’s clothes. Complement place settings from each other’s crockery supply – easy since they share the same wedding china (an early hint of Simpatico flavor). When Janie Jones decided to start over on her prime property in Mountain Brook, Alabama and replace the small cottage her family of four had outgrown with a new home with a little more leeway, she knew exactly who to turn to for design advice. In fact, she’s been reaching out to her every day since 2016, when Jones and Elizabeth Miles founded Hundley, their Birmingham-based design business, Hilton Interiors.
“Elizabeth is the yin to my yang,” says Jones. “She’s the ultimate creative while I have the organized spreadsheets. My style is more vintage and granny chic, with lots of flowers, and she pushes me to be edgier.” Still, for Miles, finding balance on client projects is one thing and another when the client is also your business partner and dear friend is. And it’s her home.
The process, by all accounts, proved as cohesive and inspiring as Jones’s sun-drenched family room, with its vibrant yellow sectional and mod gaming table and chairs, sourced from a lounge created for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ annual Antiques at the Gardens show became. The rug — “a geometric touch that brought everything together,” Jones notes — is also locally created, an introduction from friend and mentor Caroline Gidiere that helps balance the boldness and practicality that mirror those of the space’s creators.
This collaborative spirit extended to architect Anna Evans, who designed the English country house in keeping with Mountain Brook slang, and to a close working relationship with building contractor Chris Franks (“close” as he happens to be the back door neighbor of the Joneses is ). Today, the four-bedroom home lives much larger than its modest footprint suggests. “We wanted great flow, but not an open floor plan,” explains Jones, noting the 11-foot ceilings and elevated archways that give spaces like the living and dining rooms individual definition. And where spaces flow—the dining room with a bluestone patio—the flow feels entirely organic. “This neighborhood is so friendly; People are always out and about, so we like to extend an outdoor dinner party,” she adds (shared china supplies no doubt come in handy). At the back, similarly arched French doors leading from the family room to a back patio add symmetry and expand the living space.
Evans designed a curved bench seat next to the kitchen island as another space-boosting solution. Upholstered in bird’s-egg blue performance leather, it’s both extremely practical and super comfortable. “This is where we really live,” says Jones, who added contemporary cane-back chairs and greenish-teal island lights, which were a bit of a happy coincidence — she thought she’d order the small version, so she bought two. “But there’s no small version,” Miles chimes in, and both agree that the big duo brings just the right gravitas to the sunny kitchen.
Maybe, just maybe, the house boasts more florals than Miles would normally approve of—the matching chintz chairs and roman shades in the study, for example, set around an heirloom sofa from Jones’ parents, all tamed by a leopard-print rug. But for Jones and her young family, the mix of whimsy and understated, vintage and fashion, feels beautifully balanced. In the master bedroom vestibule, feminine botanical Cole & Son wallpaper – trademark Jones – is punctuated with abstract art – a touch of Miles – above a pearwood chest the pair designed together. Jones had bought a large contemporary painting that she envisioned in her living room, but Miles directed it into the entryway. “And she was 100 percent right,” says Jones.
The bedrooms, including Jones’ bedroom, are intentionally small. “We’d rather have more space in the common areas,” she notes. In the backyard, an existing garage was converted to accommodate Hundley Hilton’s office. Lou, the “crazy” Irish doodle, keeps them company (when he’s not destroying the potted thimbles).
The fresh start with new construction allowed the Joneses to give their new home plenty of vintage touches, embracing classic cottage architecture and an enclosed room floor plan, but doing so with colorful vitality. “This house was built from the ground up with love,” says Jones, who enjoys being surrounded by things and people she loves. Sometimes it’s the same, namely the children’s portraits in the study, “my very favorite thing”. The house is also a portrait of an energetic young family, two designers whose tastes (and china patterns) complement each other, and how classic and contemporary, floral and funky can circle around a cozy bench to create something bold and new .
Featured in our May/June 2022 issue. Interior design by Hundley Hilton Interiors; architecture by Anna Evans; Photography by Laurey W. Glenn; Produced by Rachael Burrow; Written by Stephanie Hunt.