Birmingham designer creates ultimate live-work space
There’s a seamless transition between Birmingham interior designer Amy Weinstein’s living space and her work space, and that’s exactly what she wanted.
Since she works from home, Weinstein of AMW Design Studio, wanted to create a space that reflects her work aesthetic but also her life. Now, after a major renovation and addition with a kitchen that flows right into her home studio, her 2,800-square-foot home isn’t just a home but a living, breathing portfolio.
“It’s really a live-work house, designed specifically with that in mind,” Weinstein says. “I wanted these two spaces together because people hang out in their kitchen. And when I have clients over for meetings it’s nice to be able to offer people food and show them examples.”
Weinstein’s three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home will be one of seven on display Thursday as part of the upcoming Birmingham House Tour, hosted by The Community House. Proceeds go toward the community house’s children’s and adult programs and services (see box for tour details).
All of the homes on this year’s tour feature a range of architectural styles with Weinstein’s on the more contemporary end of the spectrum.
Weinstein lived in her home for 17 years as a renter before the previous owner asked if she’d like to buy it (“It was a real dump” before renovations, she says bluntly). So when it came to finally renovating it, she’d had plenty of time to think about the look and style she wanted to create. She added 900 square feet.
“Once I bought it, it was ‘What’s the easiest, most affordable way to transform this house?’” says Weinstein.
And Weinstein knew what she didn’t want to do: tear down and build something much larger. She thinks there are too many overbuilt houses in Birmingham.
“It loses the charm and history,” says Weinstein.
The addition houses her new studio and kitchen, along with a master suite and extra bedroom upstairs. It features Cristallo counters, a type of natural quartz; Tafisa (a melamine veneer); and oversized heated porcelain tile on the floor. There’s one island in the kitchen and another in the nearby studio, which is perfect for entertaining if she needs it.
“I’ve set up a bar on here, lunch for the grandkids,” Weinstein says. “... I didn’t want a kitchen that looked like a kitchen because it’s so much a part of this space (her studio).”
Her house is a mix of classic pieces with plenty of modern twists. The 1950s Dunbar dining room set belonged to Weinstein’s grandmother. The entire set was refinished and the chairs were reupholstered with Duralee fabric.
There’s also a sense of symmetry throughout the house, from the refrigerator with an oversized door that goes all the way to the ceiling to blend with another cabinet, to the Calvin Klein bookcases in the living room that flank both sides of the fireplace. They’re filled with art books.
The color palette, meanwhile, is what Weinstein calls “graige” — a combo of gray and beige.
“There are accents of black for a little bit of drama, white and what I call olive oil gold,” says Weinstein.
And she puts her own unique twist on what could be mundane details.
Instead of installing a straightforward stair railing, Weinstein replaced the wall with a large steel architectural wall that runs from floor to ceiling made by her friend Tom Myers, a metal artist, of Gallery Steel. Too big to fit in the house, it was brought in in two pieces and soldered together inside.
“It’s an architectural element, kind of an art piece, it’s kind of sculptural, it serves a purpose and it opens up the hall,” says Weinstein.
Upstairs, Weinstein converted what was her daughter’s bedroom into the ultimate dream closet.
“I knew this was going to be my closet,” says Weinstein. “It’s wider than most closets. You don’t need this much width.”
She also created a gorgeous master bedroom suite. It can be closed off and has a spacious bathroom.
And while her decor is unique and personal, Weinstein was thoughtful about how it’s displayed. Rather than spreading family photos throughout the house, she kept them in one place on floating shelves on the second level.
Playful, sleek wallpaper makes a statement in several rooms including an upstairs guest bedroom, the laundry room and a downstairs bathroom.
Weinstein jokes that remaking her home after living in it for so long — she moved back in in March — was “like birthing a baby.” But after all the hard work, it isn’t just a home. It’s a reflection of her style.
“It’s totally designed for my lifestyle,” Weinstein says.
Birmingham House Tour
Hosted by The Community House, the 30th annual tour runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. Seven houses, including interior design Amy Weinstein’s home, will open their doors. Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 the day of the tour, which begins at The Community House, 380 South Bates. Tickets are limited. Call (248) 644-5832 or go to communityhouse.com.