Text by Hannah Jones
As a pastor for a local church, Randy Overstreet knew what was at the top of his wish list for a new home: space to entertain. With friends, family, and churchgoers constantly visiting, he and his wife needed a functional home with plenty of room for everyone. But there was a problem. In the historic Homewood, Alabama, neighborhood where they were building, all the cottages were smaller than what they wanted. The couple faced a dilemma—how to design a house that would be functional for their family but also blend in with the surroundings.
So, they enlisted the help of architect Michael O’Kelley. With a limited amount of space and a lofty goal of making a new build fit in with 1930s cottages, Michael was able to draw up plans for a home that had the best of both worlds. With dormer windows and a cozy front porch, the house looks perfectly in place next door to quaint bungalows. But a step inside reveals all the character and charm of an older home with a design the couple needed in a new build.
Guests are welcomed through the door with one of the home’s most impressive features—a grand floor-to-ceiling fireplace. In an effort to keep the 1930s cottage style, Randy insisted that the fireplace, mailbox, and stone on the back terrace all be made from the same material to keep the design cohesive. Inside the fireplace, Randy opted for a more modern take on traditional kindling with the addition of fireplace balls. “We had them in a previous home and my wife absolutely loved them, so we knew we wanted them here,” he says.
But it’s not until you walk through a small hallway and into the kitchen that you see the functionality and perfection of Michael’s design. The open-concept space holds a full-size kitchen, large dining table, and sitting area all within a few square feet and with a layout that makes moving between each space a breeze. It’s no surprise that this is the spot the couple loves the most. “It’s a great place for when we have another couple over; it’s a very intimate space,” Randy says. “Because it’s an open space, though, we could have 30 people in the space comfortably, with everyone still having close proximity.”
Come the winter months, the couple makes an extra effort to convey the cozy cottage atmosphere in the home. “We love to gather with friends in the family room with the fireplace lit just in celebration of the season,” Randy says. “We enjoy desserts and time with each other.” They also achieve this through their layering of textured throws and overstuffed pillows in every room, from the master suite to the living room. But at the end of the day, an expertly designed space and the family that fills it are what truly make the cottage warm and cozy.