Monday, September 12, 2011

Birmingham Spotlight:
A Mocha Light with Steve Holmes

On a hot afternoon in July, I had the privilege to stroll down to Starbucks and meet one of Birmingham's greatest interior designers for a mocha light frap.  

Steve Holmes is the owner of Mountain Brook's Timeless Interiors. With a client list reading more like a Who's Who of Birmingham, Steve manages to reinvent himself with each project.  He prides himself on not creating spaces that scream "This is a Steve Holmes house" but a space that says "This is the Jones' home".  

Like most designers, he, of course, will look to magazines and other printed works for inspiration, but he really looks to the client to make the design perfect.  Where is their home located? in what climate? in what region? But he takes it a step further - Where do they read the paper each morning? How close is it to the cereal? How can he make that experience easier and fuller?  Where do guests congregate in the home? How many come over? What do they end up doing?

'Cause lets be honest, if you're swinging from the chandelier each night, Steve better know to be sure that thing is bolted into the ceiling and that you've got enough clearance for your dismount!

Climate?  Did I just say he is inspired by the climate and region? Yes! Many of Steve's projects are done across the states.  A home in Phoenix is very different from a home in Birmingham.  The weather is different, the bugs are different, the energy of the people is different, and although that gorgeous Georgian red brick house is a show stopper on Canterbury, it just wouldn't make the same statement in Phoenix and a fabulous outdoor kitchen & living area would need to be weather proofed completely different for the weather on the West Coast.

In school, we were taught that a great designer's longevity is due to his or her ability to forecast trends and to be ahead the curve.  When I asked Steve about trending, he's response was simple.  "Design is cyclical."  He noted that design is on an a cycle- it ebbs and flows with the economy, with the state of the nation, and the generation that has gone before.

Design is extravagant in time of plenty, and it simplifies in time of stress, and then, with the economy, it recovers to be brighter and fuller than before.  

"We don't want the Persian rugs and Louis the XIV chest of drawers from our parents house- we want what was in our grandparents house- the mod, the sleek, the simple."  He notes this is partly due to the fact that we don't want what our parents had simply because they are our parents, and partly because when our grandparents decorated, the economy was recovering from a time of loss just like today.

[Side note: We at Mulberry think it is perfectly fine for you to love Mommas Persian Rug- and if you need a place to buy one for yourself- call us! ]

So the next big thing? Take a look back about fifty years, and you'll be able to see whats next.

As a young designer, I would have been totally foolish to have finished my latte without asking Steve to give advise to someone who is just starting out and hoping to have a successful career like his, and because I love y'all, I'll share his wise words.

"Try Everything.  Touch Everything.  Experience Everything."

Steve explained that each life experience gives me the opportunity to relate to a future client, to expand my frame reference, and to make me a more whole person.  This works on a personal growth level as well as a design level - how can I know which silks are the purest until I touch them all!

I am so thankful for Steve's time.  I left feeling more inspired and enriched for knowing him, and I hope now that you do too!

Gotta have him for your next project?
We think so!

Timeless Interiors
Steve Holmes
(205) 879-2714


  1. I know I shouldn't be the first one to comment on my own shop's blog...but since I didn't write it, I think it's ok!!! I just have to say that Steve Holmes has always been my epitomy of a great designer...I've always admired his work...I've used him for my own home and if I could pick a designer right now to re-do the house I want to would be Steve!!! Ok...I said it!!! Steve...I hope you get to read this post because it is GOOD STUFF!!!!

  2. love his advice to you. Such great words for an artist, no matter what kind of creative thing you do.
    Ellen, you are wonderful sweet girl! thanks for this.

  3. GREAT write up about an amazing designer with LIMITLESS talent and creativity!!! His work is true to the name of his company "Timeless"...

  4. wow....just had to re-comment! Still one of my favorite posts, Ellen. Very good job.