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Family-Friendly Renovation of a Brick Warehouse in Alabama

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In Alabama, a commercial building with a multifarious past begins a fresh chapter for a young family after a modern renovation.
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  Architect David Hill, his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children (from left: Wade, eight, Luke, six, and Breyton, ten), have an unusual home by the standards of their college-town setting in Auburn, Alabama. Built in 1920, the industrial brick building has had previous incarnations as a church, a recycling center, and a pool hall, among others.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    Architect David Hill, his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children (from left: Wade, eight, Luke, six, and Breyton, ten), have an unusual home by the standards of their college-town setting in Auburn, Alabama. Built in 1920, the industrial brick building has had previous incarnations as a church, a recycling center, and a pool hall, among others.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

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  The tables in the kids’ study hall are “plywood specials,” David’s term for the furniture he built himself.  “There is something so good about living in the South: the culture, the innovation, the values, the thrift," he says.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    The tables in the kids’ study hall are “plywood specials,” David’s term for the furniture he built himself. “There is something so good about living in the South: the culture, the innovation, the values, the thrift," he says.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

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  Many pieces in the house, like the barstools in the kitchen, are Ikea. Others are salvaged or antique. “We keep it cheap and cheerful,” Elizabeth says.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    Many pieces in the house, like the barstools in the kitchen, are Ikea. Others are salvaged or antique. “We keep it cheap and cheerful,” Elizabeth says.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

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  The cabinets, island, and countertops are KraftMaid and the appliances are Frigidaire, all from Lowe’s. The espresso-colored bamboo flooring is by USFloors.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    The cabinets, island, and countertops are KraftMaid and the appliances are Frigidaire, all from Lowe’s. The espresso-colored bamboo flooring is by USFloors.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

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  Throughout the house, as in the master bedroom, industrial ceiling fans from Westinghouse, combined with the thick brick walls, keep the need for air conditioning to a minimum. The bed is from Bob Timberlake.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    Throughout the house, as in the master bedroom, industrial ceiling fans from Westinghouse, combined with the thick brick walls, keep the need for air conditioning to a minimum. The bed is from Bob Timberlake.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

  • 
  One of David’s class projects was to photograph a beech tree every week over a year. The photos are now on display in the living area with an antique chair and desk.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    One of David’s class projects was to photograph a beech tree every week over a year. The photos are now on display in the living area with an antique chair and desk.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

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  David and Elizabeth built the lawn chairs in the garden from old signs.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    David and Elizabeth built the lawn chairs in the garden from old signs.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

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  Bragg House Floor Plan
A	Kid’s Bedroom
B	Master Bedroom
C	Study Hall
D	Master Bathroom
E	Bathroom
F	Kitchen
G	Sitting-Dining Area
H	Living Room
I	Laundry Room
J	Half-Bathroom  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    Bragg House Floor Plan A Kid’s Bedroom B Master Bedroom C Study Hall D Master Bathroom E Bathroom F Kitchen G Sitting-Dining Area H Living Room I Laundry Room J Half-Bathroom

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

  • 
  The lights that cover the ceiling of the open-plan living and dining space were crafted by the Hills out of Ikea floor lamps. "We found these floor lamps that were just a black rod," David says. "We realized we could simply unscrew them off the base, cut the wire, and sleeve them up into the attic." The lamps are designed to expose as much of the metal ceiling tile as possible, which the Hills carefully restored from the original structure. David made the dining table from a plywood sheet, painted black, that sits on top of saw horses.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    The lights that cover the ceiling of the open-plan living and dining space were crafted by the Hills out of Ikea floor lamps. "We found these floor lamps that were just a black rod," David says. "We realized we could simply unscrew them off the base, cut the wire, and sleeve them up into the attic." The lamps are designed to expose as much of the metal ceiling tile as possible, which the Hills carefully restored from the original structure. David made the dining table from a plywood sheet, painted black, that sits on top of saw horses.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

  • 
  From years of scouring secondhand shops and scrap yards, the Hills have amassed a sizable collection of interesting furniture. "Elizabeth had a rule back when we lived in Virginia that we could buy a chair, anytime we wanted, as long as it was under $10," David says. "We started to learn how to find cool chairs, not just junky chairs."  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    From years of scouring secondhand shops and scrap yards, the Hills have amassed a sizable collection of interesting furniture. "Elizabeth had a rule back when we lived in Virginia that we could buy a chair, anytime we wanted, as long as it was under $10," David says. "We started to learn how to find cool chairs, not just junky chairs."

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

  • 
  End tables made of old card catalogues can be found throughout the house. "We’ve collected them in every city we’ve lived in," David says. "Usually people were giving those away. Now they’ve gotten sort of cool so we can’t find them anymore."  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    End tables made of old card catalogues can be found throughout the house. "We’ve collected them in every city we’ve lived in," David says. "Usually people were giving those away. Now they’ve gotten sort of cool so we can’t find them anymore."

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

  • 
  The Hills rely on simple fixes to help preserve used furnishings, even cleaning pieces with baths of Dove soap and water. "Finding stuff, cleaning the heck out of it, and putting Johnson furniture wax on it—that's our M.O," David says.  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    The Hills rely on simple fixes to help preserve used furnishings, even cleaning pieces with baths of Dove soap and water. "Finding stuff, cleaning the heck out of it, and putting Johnson furniture wax on it—that's our M.O," David says.

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

  • 
  Each piece in the house has a story behind it. "We avoid antique shops because [the owners have] already assigned a value to the furniture," David says. "We prefer secondhand shops, junk shops, and trash cans. To me, just getting in there and trying something is the fun part."  Photo by: Jean Allsopp
    Each piece in the house has a story behind it. "We avoid antique shops because [the owners have] already assigned a value to the furniture," David says. "We prefer secondhand shops, junk shops, and trash cans. To me, just getting in there and trying something is the fun part."

    Photo by: Jean Allsopp

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