Couple mixes past and present in Bluff Park home

Bluff Park is home to several historical buildings and homes. During the years, these older, well-built homes are finding a new life with families ready to make them their forever home.

For one couple, a 1930s cottage perched on the bluff was in a word, perfect. Leigh Ann and Brent Harris purchased their home in December 2014 and started refurbishing the 1938 cottage. They moved into the home in May 2015.

“We worked on our home for almost five months before moving in,” says Leigh Ann, an interior designer by trade. “We did most of the work ourselves but did have the help of a carpenter and plumber.” The couple’s family and friends pitched in, as well.

Refurbishing a historic home has its challenges, though. Older electrical work, radiators and boilers were a few obstacles the Harris’s had to work around.

“We removed all the old radiators throughout the house and did a good bit of sheet-rocking,” Leigh Ann says.

Refinishing floors and removing years of wallpaper and paneling is also common in older homes, especially heart pine floors like many in Bluff Park’s mountain community.

“We refinished the hardwood floors and stained them darker. The walls had layer upon layer of paint, wallpaper and faux paneling that we removed to reveal the original beautiful pine paneling,” Leigh Ann explains.

With a blank canvas and a vision incorporating the cottage/vintage feel, the couple dressed the rooms in a rich, white wash with accents in neutral tones, blues and greens.

“My style is clean, simple and collected with an airy atmosphere,” Leigh Ann adds.

The master bedroom (originally the living room, Leigh Ann thinks) got a facelift and a master bath was added. In keeping with the original cottage feel, they kept the original paneling in the bedroom and the stone fireplace.

In the new master bath, they selected a soaking tub that matched the look flowing throughout the home and light tile for the glassed-in shower.

“The master bedroom/bath has to be my favorite room in the house,” Brent says. “Everything about it is relaxing.”

Leigh Ann redesigned the entryway to the home by removing mirrored sliding doors and cutting the entryway in half. This allowed for a master closet (on the other side of the wall) in the bedroom.

The new entryway, now a slimmer hallway, has a chest and a round mirror as the focal points. Throughout the home, antiques and repurposed furniture mix with modern conveniences.

“I like my home to tell a story,” Leigh Ann explains. “We love the community up here and the small-town feel of Bluff Park.”

After their first round of refurbishing the cottage, the home now has a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere perfect for the mountain views.

The couple plans to continue to work with their home by starting some exterior renovations and adding a new deck.

“We would like to bring that cottage feel back to the exterior of our house,” she says. “Our home was built in 1938, but from the outside, it does not look like it.”

Recently, Leigh Ann took a trip with down to the Birmingham Public Library Archives in the Linn Henley Research Library to see what she could dig up. In old equalization files, Leigh Ann found two photos from 1941 and 1959.

The photos show how the original exterior looked and had information on what previous additions had been made to the property.

Harris also plans to bring her business, Burrow Interior Design, to Bluff Park and will be opening the interior design office in early fall.