By Madoline Markham
Photos by Mary Margaret Smith & Libby Malcolm
In March of 2020, Alex Hechart was selling copiers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Suddenly she had all kinds of time on her hands as the demand for office equipment dropped overnight. “Why don’t you do something that you love?” her husband asked her.
And that’s when the idea dawned on her. She and her mom, Donna Woodfin, have always loved home design, so Alex told her she wanted to open an online home décor and furnishings company that could offer design services for people not just here in Birmingham but all over the country. “Plus with the virus consultations became easier to do remote,” Alex says.
And with that Home with Hechart (pronounced “heck-art”) was born out of the back bedroom of Donna’s Crestline home and officially opened for business on July 11 of last year. Alex brought her mom into the business as well as a college acquaintance, Mary Clay Holtkamp, who had been working in interior design in Auburn and had just moved to Birmingham. “We’ve always been close, so it’s been fun to be together and do something we love,” Donna says of working with her daughter. “Mary Clay is like another child to me now.”
And their first project? Donna’s home. She’d moved to Crestline from Anniston in early 2020 to be near Alex’s home in Crestline Park. There she bought a new build that was literally a white blank canvas that the Home with Hechart team quickly started to warm up with furnishings. Before long the house had become a showcase for the designers’ penchants for traditional style with a modern flair, and for clean lines layered with fabrics and textures to create spaces that are equally cozy and bright.
While decorating Donna’s house, the trio also combined their expertise—Alex with a marketing degree, Donna with a background in real estate and Mary Clay with a background in business and art—to help people all over the country design rooms using Facetime and other technologies. Home with Hechart also offers selection of furnishings for sale on their website and now is offering in-person consulting from their new English Village storefront that is scheduled to open in late May above Relfe-Welden Real Estate in the same strip of offices as The Scribbler.
The team says moving their office out of Donna’s home has helped them reclaim a better work-life balance, but at the same time their décor minds never really turn off. And just like when Alex was growing up, she, her mom and Mary Clay are always rearranging furniture at home and bouncing ideas off each other for whatever project is at hand.
Upstairs Living Room (at top of article)
Donna wanted this family space to feel more homey and casual than her downstairs living room. On its main wall they placed framed family photos around the TV to draw attention away from the screen itself.
Like many folks who moved their offices home when the COVID-19 pandemic began, Home with Hechart’s first office was in a bedroom. To create an office space in a home, they recommend starting with a beautiful desk, decluttering the space, and adding a rug, drapes, art and photos. “People underestimate how much the environment of a space can inspire you,” Mary Clay says.
For this room, the Home with Hechart team designed around oil paintings of Donna’s two daughters, Alex and Anna Marie, she wanted to use. They then selected a more modern square glass table to make the small space feel more airy beneath the coffer ceiling, and next added more traditional wood-framed chairs. Donna also selected a more traditional hand-painted sideboard for one wall and placed more modern geometric lamps and a mirror on top of it.
The design of this space began with two facing couches for a symmetrical look, and then they added a chest on either side to add more dimension as well as storage. A drink table nests up on each couch to create a resting place for a drink, snack or laptop.
Alex put together this tray for a spring gathering outdoors with guests, complete with fresh flowers and speckled glassware for margaritas.
The Home with Hechart team recommends a long table like this to fill empty space in an entryway or hallway or at the top of a staircase, and like other tables in this article, they have topped it with two tables and a piece of greenery.
Home with Hechart Retail Space
Opening in Late May
2102 Cahaba Road, Unit D
Find updates and more information and shop their collection at homewithhechart.com or @homewithhechart on Instagram.