Tucked away in the back of the Riverbend Neighborhood on Palisade Drive is an adorable brick home surrounded by a large dogwood, crape myrtles and azaleas. However, this traditional Southern home is anything but ordinary, with an interior eclectic style that is the perfect mixture of family memories and art. Everything in Natalie Wester and Barry Cumbie’s house tells a story that is deeply personal and rich with creativity and texture— a home that is constantly evolving and growing into something that feels warm, inviting, and inspiring.
Barry, a professor at the University of North Alabama in the College of Business, and Natalie, a photographer, moved to the Shoals in May of 2015 to be closer to family and found their house at the end of a long day of searching— they walked in and it just felt like home. They loved the neighborhood, the spacious layout, landscaped yard, and beautiful hardwood floors. The 4 bedroom, 3 bath house includes a formal living room and dining area, kitchen that leads to a private back deck, large walkout basement where they have created a full gym and cozy den to watch movies. Natalie could immediately picture making the space hers and started plans to paint, put up wallpaper, and begin hanging her collection of photographs and art.
Most of the photographs are Natalie’s, as she has a passion for photography and owns a successful photography business in the Shoals. She carefully chooses photographs to hang that she loves and that she wants to look at everyday— everything has meaning and on a daily basis can drum up feelings of nostalgia and fond memories. These collection of photographs are placed on large, floor to ceiling gallery walls that add color and dimension, and they become statement pieces and conversation starters.
However, these pictures share wall space with large art canvases, many painted by her sister or from HeARTWorks, an event once a year in Jackson, Mississippi at the Stewpot Community Center that sells paintings created by the homeless community—each painting incorporates a little spoon in the painting and tells a story of the artist. This is how Natalie wants her spaces decorated, with art and decor that tells a story. Her house is a collection of memories and anything that has caught her eye along the way, including mementos from vacations, antiques, or furniture snatched up from auctions and local shops— all coming together to create an artsy, intimate setting.
Recently Natalie has picked up painting and has begun displaying her works of art in her home and selling them throughout the Shoals, including The Stricklin Hotel. Their home is constantly evolving and collecting new memories as they love to travel, and have new projects around the corner, including a basement renovation and kitchen facelift. Their passion for creating warm and inviting spaces is an art that can be picked up in every home. So, pull out the old photographs and hunt down beautiful art or pieces that says something to you— every house can be made a home with a personal touch.