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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Sommers Butler

The Art of Timeless Design

Prime home buying season has arrived and the market is HOT! The days may be getting shorter but if you ask my husband, the honey-do-list is getting longer. It’s a season filled with DIY projects and home improvements but let’s be real, who has time?? Everyone is looking to make their home a little more valuable but if you are anything like me, you need all the help you can get; with the right touches your home can go from “blah” to “ah!”!

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Anna Claire Leary from Anna Claire Interiors in Mountain Brook, AL which has some of the oldest and most expensive real estate in the South (most homes going for $280/sq. ft). Leary grew up in Huntsville, AL and was immersed in the culture of design. Her grandparents, Glenn and Ann Cope, of Glenn Cope Custom Home Builders (who still build today) influenced her style and approach to design. “Their home was not your typical grandparents’ house and my grandmother has immaculate taste.” She was surrounded by beautiful fabrics, intricate architecture and spaces where antiques marry modern pieces in harmony. This was the foundation of her classic and contemporary balance. It takes an extraordinary eye to put together a blueprint that can grow with you in all stages of life. A designer is an investment, no more wasting time on Pinterest or money at TJ Maxx; everything done perfectly the first time.

Leary graduated from University of Alabama in Interior Design which had a heavy focus on architecture and drafting. “Contrary to popular` belief, being a designer is not always about picking colors and fabrics. Although it is an important part of the job, the bones of a home actually give it life.” Leary valued her time interning at Urban Grace Interiors in Rosemary Beach, FL. “This was an incredible experience. Working in an area where people are building their 2nd and 3rd homes, the budgets were endless which allowed me to establish more of my creative sampling and style.”

Leary’s fun and easy-going personality is reflected in her projects which are “classic and comfortable with a twist of fun.” Each design is unique to every client but all are timeless and comfortable. She advises on investing in elements you love like a charming antique or beautiful art as these pieces will help tie your personality to the room. Whether you are wanting southern charm or sleek and modern, Anna Claire Interiors will create a design you will love.

I asked Leary with a few questions that piqued my interest:

Trend Prediction for 2020: White and neutrals have been in for a few years now, but subtle bits of color will be reintroduced. If you layer colors correctly, you can still create a clean space with out looking too busy.

Favorite Fabric: A child proof, spill proof, performance fabric made by Gabby Summer Classics or Sunbrella. It is indoor-outdoor material and perfect for my clients who are starting families. Not to mention, red wine can be wiped off the couch with ease! Because the durable yet fashionable fabrics have gained so much popularity, many manufacturers are creating their own versions. Each manufacturer sells to retailers instead of directly to consumers, your designer can help you find a dealer. Although a little more on the pricey side, this is well worth the extra money. It is a luxury that will make your life easier in the long run. For a more cost-effective option a canvas slipcover can be used. Make sure the fabric is canvas, so it can be bleached.

Cost of Designer: The general interior designer charges an hourly rate. The range depends on your location and is anywhere from $75-$250 per hour. This includes a design board, research, meeting vendors, advising, shopping, and installation. Each project takes different amounts of time, but you can book a consult at no charge for more details (6-11 hours per room is average). As a bonus, AC Interiors has wholesale access to many retailers and pass their savings onto their clients.

Wallpaper: IT. IS. BACK. One of my favorites is grass cloth, a natural fiber that adds texture to any space. Although the 2000’s have put wallpaper stores out of business, you can still get this directly from designers or online retailers. Most will send free samples for you to check out before ordering.

Favorite Finish: It of course depends on what space you are in, but if you want to be classic; polished nickel is the way to go. It’s warm patina finish hides fingerprints and ages like a fine wine.

Most Affordable Update: Paint. No surprise there! Aside from walls, painting kitchen cabinets or the exterior can completely transform your home.

Best Exterior White: Alabaster- the color is consistent from dusk until dawn.

Layout Preferences: We all desire to be together- it’s human nature. Although, it depends on the style of the home (Victorian, Cottage, Traditional, etc.) not every floor plan is meant to be open concept. If you are looking to open up your space, it is best to have your designer work in conjunction with your architects and contractors from the early stages of your project. This allows the plan to be seamless and improve the flow of your home.

Favorite Home Store: Lee Industries, they are based in North Carolina and are a solid American-made company. Gabby, which started in Birmingham, has more modern pieces, while GJ Styles has more of a rustic and French country appeal.

We finished off our time with a few rapid fire “This or That” questions:

Thanks to Anna Claire for giving me a glimpse into the world of design over a cup of coffee. I was inspired by her ideas and am looking forward to watching her business grow. Below is some of her beautiful work! For a consult or to contact Anna Claire Interiors email:

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