The Tyner's Skullduggery

The Tyner's Skullduggery

Name: Patrick Tyner, owner of Skullduggery Furnishing Concepts, his wife Star and two daughters Marina and Anna Kathryn (who is 10 years old today, Happy Birthday!).
Location: The Birmingham Loft District, Alabama
Size: 2200 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years

The Tyners are tricky. How else could they fill their home with such eclectic and unique treasures for less than $5000? Almost everything they own was won at an estate sale, found at a thrift store, inherited from family or made from hand. Of course, it helps that Patrick is an excellent craftsman and talented furniture designer, who uses his home to showcase his work.


The Tyners' home looks normal enough from the outside. It's in a small gated community in the developing loft district of Birmingham, Alabama. The exterior is red brick with clean modern lines. As I make my way up to the front door, I see a huge sign next to the entrance that reads, "Peak of Perfection, Green Acres." It seems refreshingly odd that someone would place a huge sign in front of their house that doesn't seem to make any kind of political or religious statement. I walk up to the door and notice I'm standing on a pirate themed doormat and the door knocker is in the shape of a whale. I opt for the electric buzzer and am warmly greeted by Star Tyner, who is a USC grad and practicing lawyer in Birmingham.

She ushers me into a foyer that is furnished with a baby blue vanity table. The walls are covered with hot pink floral decals that depict a stag and a fawn standing in the midst of butterflies. It's at this point, I start to suspect this place might be a little weird. As I'm guided into the open living and dining area, I have to stop and slowly digest the many colors, patterns and styles that make up the Tyner home. Yes, this place is more than a little weird, but in the best way possible. There are so many beautiful things filling the room I can't decide what to admire first. The space is teeming with energy. There is an aura of domesticated chaos that might turn feral at any moment. All the colors, patterns and styles are at war with one another, and yet, there is a harmonious balance to the discord.

This dichotomy is the essence of Patrick Tyner, a furniture designer and owner of Skullduggery Furniture Concepts. The word eclectic gets thrown around a lot, but few people embody it like Patrick Tyner. His style is not definable. He mixes mid-century fabrics with Victorian woodwork. He is equally obsessed with the Old South and the sea. Sometimes he likes the earthy comfort of a rustic patina. Other times, he likes the drama of high end glamor. It all depends on his mood and, more importantly, the piece of furniture he's designing or redesigning.


His business, was born out of desperation. Four years ago, when Star and Patrick moved into their loft, they had no furniture of their own. Instead of going to the store and buying a matching sofa and loveseat, Patrick and Star decided to take a more personal, and much less expensive, approach to decorating their home. They scoured estate sales and thrift stores for interesting items with good infrastructure. Patrick was a cabinetmaker and so he applied his knowledge of woodworking to building furniture for his home. Without any formal design training, Patrick says the process of designing was, and still is, organic. He rarely buys a piece of furniture with a preconceived plan. He chooses furniture that has "good bones" and he allows the shape and the style of the piece to guide the design process. He says sometimes the rich history of a piece can provide inspiration for it's rebirth. For example, the sofa in their bedroom was found in the forest. Patrick kept the natural patina of the wood, but decided to upholster it with an elegant black and white paisley fabric. He says he wanted to dress it up to ameliorate for the sofa's past neglect. Its this organic evolution of design that prohibits a formal continuity of style.



After I find a way to cipher my surroundings, I feel more relaxed and then start lusting after enumerable items. To begin with, the owl lamps are adorable. They perfectly ride that fine line between lunacy and kitsch. The living area is filled with anglophile patterns and hunting lodge accessories. The dining area is more refined with its colorful dining ware presented with fanfare. The walnut bar gives weight to the area and a feeling of old world luxury which melds perfecting with the brown leather chesterfield club chairs in the kitchen area. Next to the chairs is a baker's cabinet that is over 100 years old. It's delicate and raw because Patrick felt it was perfect without any lacquering or bright colors. As I head upstairs, I take a quick peek into the guest bathroom. I see it's decorated as a tongue-in-cheek catholic shrine, of course. The upstairs hallway is lined with soccer jerseys. This sport is another one of Patrick's many passions. It's evident from their daughters' room that Patrick is also infatuated by the sea. The girls' room is filled with ocean treasures like metallic shells and painted coral. There is a mariner's clock on the wall and lobsters are embroidered on the curtains. The room is filled with just enough gritty detail to avoid looking like a Disney-themed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.



However, nothing could compare to the striking dark beauty of the master bedroom. Star, who used to own a jewelry store, likes to call it "The Jewel Box." While Patrick's energy is still in most of the furniture, there is calm sophistication to the bedroom that makes me think this is Star's domain. The framed pictures propped up against the wall coupled with the sensuous deep colors make the room feel like a Parisian apartment, not an industrial loft. I'm impressed by the large original painting that takes up most of the back wall, and I'm told it was painted by one of Star's friends from Bulgaria, an artist who goes by the name Checho. I do another bathroom peek, and this time I'm not surprised to find a room filled with milk glass animal figurines. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to find a taxidermy rhinoceros in the bathroom. There seem to be no limits to the creativity and eccentricity of this home.


Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Patrick defines his style as, rustic eclectic attic meets "Southern Living" meets Old Mens' Club, with and a wink and a nod, while Star says her style is more, "Hollywood Regency."

Inspiration: The high end glamor of designers Kelly Wearstler and Margaret Elman. The aesthetic of fashion designers like Billy Reid and Alexander McQueen. Patrick also credits his mother for introducing him to interior design, because she was constantly redecorating their home. He says she use to drag him around to antique stores and estate sales when he was a child. Sometimes she would include him when she met with her friends, who he describes as "ladies that lunch." These outings helped shape his quirky southern style.

What Friends Say: It was the enthusiastic reaction of their friends and family that convinced Patrick to start his own business. Patrick admits people "went nuts" when they saw his refurbished furniture. He says, "our friends, who are professionals in their mid-30's liked it and my older relatives liked it, so I was struck by the multi-generational appeal."

Biggest Embarrassment: Star doesn't like the Christmas lights that have stayed up for over a year. She wants to take them down but her daughter, Marina, won't let her. Patrick hates the beige walls in the main living area. They never got around to painting them and now, there is so much stuff on the walls, it's too late to change the color. Also, he really hates the Pottery Barn rug in the living room. Star says Patrick might learn to weave just to get the rug out of the house.

Proudest DIY: It's harder to find something that's not DIY.

Biggest Indulgence: Star's jewelry collection that is on display in the bedroom, if that counts. Otherwise, the TV in the living room. It's the only major item in the house that cost over $300.

Best Advice: Quit going to the big box stores. Start going to places you wouldn't normally go. By frequenting your local thrift store or an estate sale you're recirculating money back into your community. Patrick says you'll also meet some crazy characters and, "by doing that you are inevitably going to have something unique, even if it's just a good story."

Dream Source: Paris flea market. Patrick says, "in Europe it's not an antique unless it's 500 years old!"


Resources of Note:

ENTRY
• baby blue vanity: flea market
• Floral deer decal: handmade

LIVING ROOM
• Houndstooth sofa: estate sale refurbished by Skullduggery
• Plaid chair: family heirloom refurbished by Skullduggery
• Sofa: family heirloom refurbished by Skullduggery
• Owl Lamps: thrift store refurbished by Skullduggery
• Sewing machine table: thrift store
• Wood grain rug: pottery barn
• Striped coffee table: family heirloom refurbished by Skullduggery
• Window frame: pulled from junk house.
• Curio cabinet: bought from fish and tackle shop (was used to display worms!).
• Bottles in curio cabinet: Avon perfume bottles
• Busts: family heirloom

DINING ROOM
• Walnut bar from 1920's: antique store
• Dining room table and chairs: antique store
• Serveware: Z Gallerie
• Silverware: family heirloom
• Glassware: thrift store

KITCHEN AREA
• Brown leather chairs: family heirlooms
• Green coffee table: flea market
• 70's bucket chair: family heirloom
• Turn of the century baker's cabinet: antique store
• Record player: estate sale
• Pillows: handmade by Star

CHILDREN'S BEDROOM
• Blue bedroom suite: family heirloom refurbished by Skullduggery
• Nautical clock: gift from Star's mother
• Velvet nautical paintings: thrift store
• Bedding: Ralph Lauren
• Curtains: handmade by Star
• Cradle: handmade by Patrick's grandfather
• Shells: painted by Patrick
• Sailboat chair: flea market refurbished by Skullduggery

MASTER BEDROOM
• Black and white couch: found in the woods refurbished by Skullduggery
• Painting: Star's friend and Bulgarian artist Checho
• Bed: Gift from Star's mother
• Bedding: Anthropolgie
• Curtains: handmade by Star
• Red coffee table: handmade by Patrick
• Green lamps: thrift store
• Gray chairs: thrift store refurbished by Skullduggery
• Red desk and chair: flea market refurbished by Skullduggery
• Jewelry Dresser: High Point Furniture in Jasper

BATHROOM
• Milk glass, plates, silver deer heed, canisters: flea market

Thanks, Patrick and Star!

Images: Susan Mitchell Blavin

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