No two days are the same for Dr. Kelly Ison, but most of them share one common factor: they’re busy! A rare bird, the local pediatrician and new mom somehow flits from one role to another, swiftly learning to juggle patient clinics, infant feedings and family dinners. But one thing is certain: as she and husband Philip adjust to parenthood, it helps to have a well-designed and practical kitchen to come home to, thanks to a collaboration with the ladies at Jackson Warren Interiors.
Philip Ison, a Mobile native, and Kelly Gilreath, a Fairhope girl, met in 2016 while she was attending medical school at the University of South Alabama following her undergrad years at Auburn. Philip had just moved back to the Port City from Birmingham, where he’d discovered he had a knack for renovating fixer-upper properties.
When he first laid eyes on the 1920s Midtown bungalow the couple now calls home, he knew it was a huge project, and Kelly was a bit skeptical he could pull off the transformation that he was imagining. “But I was just his girlfriend. It was his decision to make,” she laughs. “The house had a lot of character, but it had been sitting on the market, vacant for a couple of years. Philip is a hands-on creative with a vision, though.” While he courted Kelly and learned a new position at Thames Batre Insurance, Philip spent every spare moment diligently working to update the upstairs, one remodeling project at a time. Then, in 2018, the night before Kelly’s graduation, Philip popped the question at the fountain in Bienville Square. The lovebirds were married by the next March and nestled into the space together with their English chocolate lab, Mud.
As the newlyweds continued to make the home their own, Kelly finished her residency in May of 2021 and went on to begin her career as a pediatric hospitalist at Thomas Hospital. “I’ve always loved kids, and working as a pediatrician, I love getting to be a part of children’s lives and getting to know their families.” A grueling schedule with 24-hour call didn’t leave much spare time for home renovations, though.
Once the Isons began considering growing their own family, nesting kicked into high gear. They decided it was time to tackle their home’s biggest challenge — the tiny, outdated galley kitchen. They wanted to open up the space to create better flow and add much more cabinet storage to improve functionality, all while staying true to the early 1900s cottage charm and aesthetic. Kelly, who loves cooking and entertaining, also really wanted a huge farmhouse sink and a large gas range. “I knew we needed to go ahead and do the remodel before we had a baby,” Kelly says. “It was now or never.”
Above The color palette of the exterior of the Ison’s early 1900s cottage in Ashland Place carries over to the celery green cabinets in the kitchen.
With both of them working in busy full-time jobs, they decided to call in backup for such a big project. In January 2022, Kelly reached out to interior designer and longtime friend, Aileen Warren, for her expertise. Warren and her business partner, Kiley Jackson, just so happened to be expanding their Houston-based design firm, Jackson Warren Interiors, to Fairhope. After a walk-through, they were immediately brimming with ideas, and Kelly knew she could relax knowing that Aileen and Kiley were experienced and could manage the contractors every step of the way.
“As clients, Kelly and Philip are as good as it gets. They have a clear vision and good taste, but welcome our professional opinion and are open to the twists and turns that come along with any remodel, especially in an old house,” Aileen says.
Demo began that May, and as to be expected, the team ran into a few old house surprises and snafus. But the job still wrapped up by October, just in time for Aileen and Kiley to help Kelly finish fluffing and feathering her nest before her new little one’s arrival.
The Isons welcomed their first child, a son, Bennett, last December. In case that wasn’t enough excitement, Kelly and Philip decided to become a forever home to one of Mud’s puppies, River. Then, following her maternity leave, Kelly joined the Pediatric Associates practice this past March, allowing her to pursue her passion for outpatient pediatric care with a bit more manageable schedule so that she can relish this time with her growing brood.
Despite the busyness that a new baby, a new puppy and a new job brings, Kelly has managed to get back into the routine of cooking for herself and Philip in her new kitchen while Philip spends quality time with the baby. She says she quickly learned the value of meal prepping. “I plan and chop as much as possible for weeknight dinners on Sundays.”
Top Left Aileen Warren and Kiley Jackson, of Jackson Warren Interiors, created the perfect kitchen for a growing family.
There’s a smile in her voice as she shares that as much as she enjoys preparing meals in her new dream kitchen, the greatest highlight of her hectic schedule is coming home to baby Bennett. She’ll savor a few sweet, Dreft-scented snuggles, then they run a nice warm bath for him in that giant farmhouse sink. The tot grins a toothless smile at his mama and dada, cooing and giggling as his pink toes splash in the water, while Mud and River curl up on the rug nearby and all is right in the Isons’ little nest.”
Cabinet paint: Benjamin Moore Grecian Green
Wall paint: Benjamin Moore White Dove
Backsplash: Zellige tile from Triton Stone
Countertops: Mont Blanc quartzite from Triton Stone
Floors: Slate from ProSource Tile
Appliances, farmhouse sink and plumbing: GE from Ferguson
Cabinet Hardware: Rayford & Associates
Sconce: Circa Lighting
Construction: Chris Holmes Construction
Above The designers with Jackson Warren Interiors turned an awkward nook under the existing stairs into a cozy place to store cookbooks and drop bags at the end of a busy day. The Lemon Tahini Drizzle also makes a great salad dressing or marinade.
Herby Mustard Roasted Potatoes
2 pounds small potatoes (Yukon, red or fingerling), cut in halves or quarters
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Toss potatoes with olive oil and mustard until coated. Place on baking sheet and toss with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Place baking sheet in oven and roast for 35 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and cooked through, tossing occasionally.
4. When still warm, toss potatoes with fresh parsley and dill and a pinch of salt. Serve immediately.
Note: If cooking spatchcock chicken, place mustard potatoes around the chicken on a large baking sheet and roast together. If potatoes cook more quickly than chicken, just remove them and keep cooking chicken until done.
Spatchcock Chicken Shawarma with Lemon-Tahini Drizzle
For the chicken:
1 whole 3.5-4-pound chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the lemon-tahini drizzle:
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, finely minced or grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
Large pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons water (if needed)
Fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.To spatchcock the chicken, place breast side down on cutting board and remove the backbone by cutting along each side with kitchen scissors or poultry shears. Flip and press to flatten. Pat chicken completely dry with a paper towel.
3. Combine olive oil, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, turmeric and dried oregano. Mix well. Brush mixture on chicken and place breast side up in a large baking pan.
4. Cook for 40-45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into breast reads 155-160 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. While chicken cooks, make the lemon-tahini drizzle. Combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt and whisk to combine. While whisking, add water until sauce reaches desired consistency. Store in fridge.
6. Remove chicken from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with lemon tahini drizzle, top with fresh parsley and serve.
One-Pan Chicken with Orzo and Artichoke
4 chicken cutlets or small chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 12-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 shallot, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup half and half
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour on plate and lightly dredge each piece of chicken.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat and sear chicken on each side for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add butter to hot skillet to melt, then add artichokes. Cook for a few minutes until slightly browned, then add shallots, garlic, thyme, red pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for additional 2 minutes.
4. Add uncooked orzo to the skillet and stir to combine. Pour in wine and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes, or until orzo is al dente.
5. Add lemon juice and half and half to the orzo, stirring to combine. Finally, nestle the chicken into the pan and cook another 5 minutes. Plate and serve immediately.
Marinated Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad
For the marinade:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup olive oil
For the salad:
1 large hot house cucumber, chopped
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small block of feta, cubed into bite size pieces (about 6 ounces)
1. Combine all marinade ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl. While whisking, add oil and whisk to combine.
2. Add remainder of salad ingredients and toss. Marinate for 30 minutes or up to overnight before serving.