For Felicia Palazzolo Shaw and husband Edwin Shaw, you might say, “The third time’s the charm.” Here’s why:
Back in 1983, while looking to buy a house, the Shaws rented an 1,100-square-foot apartment on the ninth floor of the Birmingham Place in downtown Birmingham. Three years later, they moved to a 2,200-square-foot apartment on the same floor. Then, in 2012, after having resided in a home for 19 years and finding out that the Birmingham Place had been renovated and turned into condos, the couple decided to purchase one of the models. Coincidentally, that 2,750-square-foot condo was also on the ninth floor.
“We just really wanted a change,” hairstylist and beauty salon owner Palazzolo Shaw says. “And there really wasn’t any adjustment. We loved it right away. Living in downtown Birmingham felt like a microcosm of Manhattan where you just get out and walk and are surrounded by people. We both love people.”
Adds Edwin Shaw, a founding partner of Planning Alternatives, a registered advisory firm also in Birmingham: “Before the condo, maintenance was me. Now I get up in the morning, call downstairs and when I come home, whatever needed fixing is done. It’s wonderful.”
After a great deal of renovation, including moving a wall here or there, completely changing the living room fireplace, making a bar and storage area out of a useless hallway, changing the shape of the island in the kitchen and adding new kitchen cabinets to match the existing ones, the Shaws, working with Jeffrey King, who has been the couple’s interior designer for several different projects over the years, addressed the fun part: the decor. The concept was to create a glamorous and sophisticated atmosphere “reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood,” King says.
And the interesting thing is that almost everything in the condo has been re-purposed from the Shaws’ former residence. For example, in the living room, the reproduction Victorian Empire-style living room sofa, purchased from a Horchow catalog 10 years ago, originally had a dark brown carved wood frame and was upholstered in black distressed leather. Now the frame sports a high gloss ebony lacquer finish, and the body of the sofa is upholstered in greige faux leather that has heavy embossed graining. And the fronts of the room’s two club chairs, also from the former home, are now covered in a black, taupe and white tweed chenille fabric that “reminds Felicia and me of a classic Chanel tweed,” King says. And the cool thing is that the backs of those chairs are covered in an entirely different fabric, a lime green-colored wool that has been studded with shiny nickel nail heads.
“I really love color,” Felecia says. “And just after buying the condo, while flipping through a magazine, I saw a room done in lime green. I loved the color immediately and knew I had to have it.”
The result? Almost every wall in the living room, dining room, foyer and back hallway is painted lime green, a luscious color that was particularly cheerful on the bleak winter’s day that we visited.
“When Felicia told me she wanted to use lots of lime green as well as peacock blue and neon yellow, I thought to myself, ‘She’s lost it,’ but as per usual, I realized she was ahead of her time. She’s so creative, and she’s always been a visionary,” King says.
So peacock blue is the dominant color in the master bedroom, where three of the four walls are painted that vibrant hue. And just across from the king-sized bed, a fabulous chair from the old house that Jeffrey describes as “an exaggerated, theatrical version of a traditional wing chair” is upholstered in a peacock blue and cocoa-colored zigzag striped print.
And the neon yellow? That can be found gracing the walls of the second bedroom, which the Shaws turned into an exercise room and where a Murphy bed is built into one of the walls to accommodate overnight guests. That same dynamic color is also found on the laundry room’s walls.
In order to achieve the retro feeling that King was looking for, the designer utilized a lot of polished, shiny elements in the condo’s decor, including the antiqued mirrored glass that lines one of the foyer’s walls, the glass tiles that form a backsplash in both the kitchen and the bar, the mirrored drawer fronts on the two dressers in the master bedroom, the silvery nail heads that King says “highlight the shapes and curves of the living room club chairs, the dining room chairs, the library’s recliner chair and the upholstered bed in the master bedroom” and also the oversized 6- by 7-foot floor mirror in the living room that is strategically placed to make the room feel larger and also to reflect the incredible view from the balcony. So while on a clear day you might not see forever, you can indeed see all the way downtown to the Ren Cen.