Downtown Sizing

Lucy Cope was ready for a change. It was a transition that would put her living right smack in the middle of the action of Downtown Mobile, alongside the thriving arts district and fantastic dining scene.

In May of 2011, the Roberts Brothers agent — and her three felines, Ben, Thumpkin and Miss Kitty — made the move from the 3, 200-square-foot, two-story Georgian abode she had shared with her late husband in Spring Hill to the considerably smaller, urban property.

Cope knew that local real estate trends show many Port City baby boomers are downsizing to compact, urban living spaces so she was certain that it could be done. But, unsure of how to pare down her furnishings and still fashion a functional, homey atmosphere, she called on local residential interior designer Darrel J. Williams, above.

He set to work creating thoughtfully defined “rooms” in what was essentially a 1, 200-square-foot open area. Williams began from scratch, first developing a floor plan that utilized a central, double-sided shelving unit to serve as a room divider and storage between the bedroom and living room. Right away, Cope says, “it was obvious that he got this space that had bumfuzzled so many.”

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Once the rooms were distinguished, they determined her new single, city-girl style: a texturally lush blend of traditional sophistication and sexy chicness. Moreover, it needed to reflect the building itself, a 19th-century, brick-and-mortar structure that underwent a facelift in 2006 to create 21 condo units. The result strikes a balance between Cope’s favorite pieces, such as Asian antiques, eyecatching artwork and old family photos, with Williams’ more modern picks, like oversized lampshades, a glitzy, contemporary chandelier and a grey faux sharkskin settee. “She had some beautiful pieces that I just needed to reinterpret, ” says Williams. “The greatest compliment is when people come in and can’t tell what was new and what was here before.” MB


LEFT When Cope first purchased the place, it was an open loft with only four doors. Now it functions as a multi-room home. RIGHT Gauzy sheers section off the cocoon-like sleeping quarters.


LEFT “Storage is the key to being able to survive, ” Cope says. Williams incorporated cabinetry in creative ways. For instance, the half wall between the living room and bedroom features a TV unit and built-in display shelves on one side and a shoe storage space on the other. RIGHT The designer-client duo built a friendship along the way. As they discuss their project, Cope and Williams seamlessly complete each other’s sentences like a longtime married couple. “We both have the exact same taste, ” laughs one. “What we need is an enormous trust fund, ” the other finishes.


ABOVE Sensual luxury is the theme of Cope’s tranquil bathroom. Alabama marble countertops are paired with an exquisite, deep antique reproduction slipper tub and subtle grey cabinetry (Griffin by Sherwin Williams). The showstopper is a dramatic heirloom portrait in the style of Rembrandt Peale that Cope’s mother found in Charleston. 


LEFT Marble and silver details echo the feminine, texturally lush look Williams envisioned. RIGHT Cope’s existing Asian foo dog bookends mix well with family photos and volumes.

text by Lawren Largue • photos by Matt Gates

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