Years spent flipping houses in Florida influence Brian and Ann Marie James’ style


Story by Katie McDowell

Photos by Dawn Harrison

When you step into Ann Marie and Brian James’ Greystone home, a few things immediately catch your attention.

The home itself is beautiful with tall ceilings and windows overlooking the golf course. The décor is also striking – a mix of textures and patterns in creams, tans, blues and grays that call to mind the beach.

Another thing that grabs your attention is how neat and organized the house is. They have a great reason for their tidiness.

Cream cabinets and a brick oven adds warmth to the kitchen.

Cream cabinets and a brick oven adds warmth to the kitchen.

“We buy and sell houses for a living,” Ann Marie said. “We’re your typical HGTV flipper. We’re used to keeping things in a 30-minute clean up.”

Their Greystone home is the latest in a series of houses they have bought, remodeled and sold over the last seven years.  They flipped about 80-90 houses from 2008-2013 while living in Destin, Fla. They flipped about 10 in Birmingham since moving to the area about two years ago.

“We both find the properties,” Brian said. “She comes up with a renovation plan. I run the crews, and then she sells it.”

They have lived in several of the homes they flipped, including five waterfront homes in Florida. They bought their current house at auction on the first day they saw it.

“The basic house was good,” Ann Marie said. “We did quite a bit of painting and remodeling.”

The three-story, brick home has six bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. They refinished the floors, changed light fixtures, replaced many of the exterior doors and relandscaped, as well as changing the décor and overall “feel” of the house.

Before moving to Florida, Ann Marie, who lived in Birmingham, described her style as traditional.

“When I got to Destin, it shook things loose,” she said.

Metallic candleholders serve as the centerpiece in the dining room.

Metallic candleholders serve as the centerpiece in the dining room.

Now, she favors a lighter, more casual style with distressed furniture and silver and chrome metallics.

Ann Marie began collecting furniture and décor in the late 1990s – items she found in antique shops, garage sales and online. Today, their basement is full of extra furniture and décor, which they use to stage homes they are flipping.

“I just put all of my favorite stuff in here,” she said of their Greystone home.

Friends often visit and “shop” in their home. Ann Marie said she regularly sells furniture, lamps and more to friends and family. She replaces the items with something from the basement or sometimes buys an identical piece.

Between the two of them, Ann Marie and James, who were both married previously, have five children ranging in ages from 17 years old to 29 years old.

The family makes good use of all of the rooms in the home. Ann Marie and Brian eat breakfast and watch the sun rise in the keeping room, and they end the day in the great room watching the sun set over the golf course. In the winter, they sit by the fireplace in the master bedroom. Ann Marie likes to unwind and read books in the sitting room.

“Every room has its own personality,” Brian said.

When decorating their Greystone home, Ann Marie said she started with the rugs.

“I bought almost all new rugs for this house,” she said.


Brian and Ann Marie enjoy sitting beside the fireplace in the master bedroom in the winter.

The home opens into a foyer that is flanked by a sitting room and dining room. The sitting room features contrasting pieces: A velvet sofa paired with distressed end tables and mirror. Botanical drawings also frame the mirror.

The focal point of the dining room is a stunning chandelier hanging over a traditional dining table and patterned chairs. A patinaed mirror hangs over a long, mirrored buffet on the far wall.

The coastal influence is especially apparent in the great room. The room is decorated in neutral colors that call to mind sand dunes, the ocean and sky.

Symmetry also adds to the room’s appeal. A pair of built-in cabinets flanking the fireplace is decorated similarly. Two linen accent chairs are situated in front of the fireplace. Two smaller, distressed accent tables function as a coffee table.

The kitchen gives off a warm vibe thanks to exposed brick around the fireplace, cream cabinetry and a rustic table that seats eight. The keeping room has a similarly warm feel with its fireplace and a leather accent chair.

The master bedroom is spacious, with enough room for a king bed and a sitting area around a fireplace in a corner overlooking the golf course. Mirrored side tables and velvet bedding accents provide some drama in the room, while white bedding and cream accent chairs provide a sense of calm.

Additional bedrooms are found on the second floor of the house, while the basement provides plenty of storage space. The backyard has a patio overlooking a pool and the golf course.
Although Brian and Ann Marie love their current home, they are ready for their next challenge. Their home is currently for sale for $1.15 million, and the furnishings can be purchased separately.