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Talk of the Town - Homework October 19 2005

For Jose Tavel and Cara Cummins, there's no place (to work) like home

Rising above Freedom Parkway at three stories, José Tavel and Cara Cummins' home literally sticks out in the Old Fourth Ward. Its highly modern exterior features square, unadorned windows, a flat roof and naturally colored wooden siding, all a marked contrast from the one-story bungalows and two-story Victorian styles dominating the neighborhood.

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The two are the husband-and-wife architectural and interior design team TaC Studios. Their work is familiar to many — they are behind such well-known and visually intriguing spots as Midtown's Nickiemoto's, Noodle and Retromodern, and Decatur's Crescent Moon Café.

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The couple's residence mirrors the concepts that they pass on to their clients. The interior of the house is made inviting by their use of blond wood and collection of indigenous art. Lighting is sparse and placed strategically to feature the art, with natural light dominating the living areas.

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And though their home is very different from those surrounding it, in many ways it works better than other rebuilds and redesigns that are occurring throughout the Old Fourth Ward. With a workspace on its own separate floor, multiple terraces overlooking the city and a courtyard with rock, fountains and foliage (and not a single blade of grass), the home has also proven to be a perfect platform for the couple to express their design philosophies and styles to clients.

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How does having your studio in your home help you to serve your clients?

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Tavel: It helps us in that we get to show off what we like to do. It's easy to bring clients, especially residential clients, to show that this is what we believe in, this is how we design, this is how we live. We get to bring them to this environment, and a lot of the time they haven't been exposed to anything like this, which makes it the perfect model to walk through.

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This house is very unique, especially considering the other houses in the neighborhood, which are more traditional.

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Tavel: They've all been abused over the years for the most part, and they are too small to be rebuilt, so people are taking them down and rebuilding with the two- or three-story McMansion type of product. We think this is a much better product, especially for these tiny lots. This lot is 36 feet wide and the house is 26 feet wide.

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Do you like the reaction you receive when people first encounter your place?

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Tavel: It's really pleasurable. There are a lot of gasps, and by the way they look around, you can tell they never thought of this way of living. It's one of those things that you can sit down and discuss, and you can draw pictures. But for a lot of people, until you walk them through an example, it's hard for them to understand.

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Cummins: We truly feel fortunate that we get to practice what we preach, live where we work. We get to play where we live, and it's all pretty easygoing. It's very Southern, it really is.

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cityhomes@creativeloafing.com



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