By Anna Grace Moore
Photos by Lauren Ustad
Samantha “Sam” and Lee Thompson first met on a blind date at Ole Miss, and now 12 years later, they’ve created a beautiful family in a simply elegant home to raise their children.
The couple moved to Birmingham in 2011 and lived in Highland Park and Crestline before moving to Vestavia Hills, where they now call home. The Vestavia Hills community has such tight-knit neighborhoods where families feel connected and welcome, Lee says.
The couple moved into their Vestavia Hills home in January of 2021, after first purchasing the home from a Vestavia native whose family had owned the house for two generations. The house was in great shape, but it needed a few updates for Sam and Lee to really feel “at home” in their new space.
One of Sam’s friends referred her to River Brook Design and Construction, which is owned by Leigh and Kevin Misso, a husband and wife duo that custom-designs and builds homes, renovations and more.
River Brook drew a perfectly tailored renovation plan that would allow Sam and Lee to feel their house transform into a home. They vaulted the ceilings to add more height to the central living space upstairs to make everything feel more open. Sam is a mom to three boys, so River Brook cleverly moved the laundry room upstairs near the bedrooms for easy access to the washer and dryer.
They also expanded the kitchen, providing Sam ample space to cook and also watch her three sons, Lee, 4, Henry, 3 and Owen, 16 months, play from just about anywhere upstairs.
What River Brook succeeded in achieving for the couple above all was not only the house’s modifications, but also a space where both Sam and Lee’s family can thrive for years to come. Their dream, they say, is to provide a comfortable and welcoming space to raise their boys and connect with friends and family. Thanks to the River Brook Design and Construction team, Sam and Lee are living their dream–in a home that they can call their own.
Sam opted for white quartz countertops because the material is more food safe, which is great for small children wanting to help mom cook in the kitchen. Leigh utilized several unique lighting fixtures not only to brighten the room, but also to incorporate a fun talking point for guests as they admire the house’s architectural beauty.
This textured, hand-laid tile backsplash adds a visual feel to a monochrome color palette, making the kitchen have a bit of definition.
The vaulted ceilings help make the space feel more open, and especially with the central Benjamin Moore paint shade, “Cloud Cover,” matching from the ceiling to the walls, the space feels more dignified.
River Brook matched the fireplace mantle to the beams supporting the ceiling structure and the floor stain for a more uniform look. They also chose to white wash the fireplace for a more modern attraction.
Art for the Modern World
These watercolor abstracts by Joe Adams are reminiscent of tea-stains and make for the perfect pop of color and add a sophisticated allure to the room.
It’s the Little Things
Even the smallest details are not left to chance. Leigh takes into account what will make each room “pop,” with hand-picked furnishings.
This custom-designed WoodworKings dining room table is one of the main focal points of the open concept upstairs. The couple chose French country-style chairs and a gold accented chandelier for sophistication. The dining room table sits adjacent to the appropriately-styled French doors that open into the family’s library nook.
In a New Light
Adorning the entryway ceiling is a bucket light, which Sam admits she wasn’t so sure about at first. However, now she loves it and is thankful for Leigh’s unique taste in design.
This room’s windows allow for lots of natural light to grace the furniture, and coincidentally, people tend to congregate in this room, Sam says. Not pictured is the skylight in the room’s ceiling, which was original from the house’s first blueprint. The couple hopes this room will be the site of many gatherings and family game nights. Despite all the white furniture, most everything is covered in washable slips, which are key to parents of young children, Sam says.
This herringbone backsplash paired with the moody blue cabinets stands out–in a great way. Attention is drawn to the subtle details, providing a modern look for entertaining guests. River Brook sourced the countertops from Surface One.