Beach Bungalow Glow

BY Lou Anne Liverman

It s an entertaining story really: the tale of a once-dated Figure Eight Island beach bungalow and how it got its glow. All Carol Wright says she initially wanted for the second home she shares with her husband Tim was to beach-up the bedrooms with different duvets and prettier pillows. Enter interior designer Cathy Maready of Elephant Ears who agreed to give the four downstairs bedrooms the much-needed makeover but cautioned Wright to limit the updates to only the first level. Maready told Wright that once she ventured upstairs to the main-living level she would realize the rest of her house was pink.

I thought  My house isn t pink!  laughs Wright recalling her initial reaction to Maready s assessment of the home s original overall color palette and outdated decor. Wright now agrees with Maready and jokes she assumed everyone on the island still had pink rooms and popcorn ceilings.

Purchased about seven years ago by the Wrights the timeworn marsh-side home on Clamdigger Point Road initially served as a second residence for Tim who periodically commuted from Ohio to work in Wilmington. Carol and the couple s then high-school daughters came on various weekends and also during the summer months. But Carol admits for her this second residence on Figure Eight Island was just a place to sleep.

I am a cyclist. The house part just didn t mean that much to me at the time. I came here to throw my stuff down and then go out and cycle Carol says. I never liked the beach growing up in Ohio. I have fair skin and the salt and sand and whole idea of the beach wasn t appealing.

The Wrights engaged modernist architect Michael Ross Kersting in a dialogue regarding architectural and structural options and/or renovations. That conversation lasted a couple of years.

It was a tired old house from the mid-70s. A dark box both on the interior and exterior that was lacking character and a feeling of life Kersting says. More like a place to stay at the beach and get some good views. Basically it was dated and needed rejuvenation.

Having debated whether or not to tear down the original house and rebuild or to simply renovate Kersting and the Wrights eventually decided that redesign and subsequent renovation would offer both the function and overall aesthetic the couple wanted.

The main goal aesthetically was to breathe new life into the structure by bringing more natural light into the house while updating the exterior finishes and details to give the house a more traditional North Carolina beach character Kersting says. For this purpose casement windows were strategically placed throughout to infuse the house with more natural light and also offer panoramic views of the home s natural marsh setting. Traditional coastal exterior elements such as gray shingles and white trim add to the home s overall simple yet elegant exterior detail. The home s ground level provides open-air living and entertaining spaces delineated seating dining and lounging areas on both covered and uncovered sections of its decked porch. An outdoor shower and ample storage round out the perimeter of the home s outside thoroughfare while steps away the meticulously landscaped back lawn now offers a lush open setting as a welcome alternative to the trees that once obscured the water view.

Alternately Kersting s goal for the redesign of the home s interior was that it offer a more functional and efficient footprint. To this end the main-living level consisting of the kitchen dining and family rooms has been completely reconfigured with ceilings raised for a more open and spacious area. Immediately down the hall from this gathering spot — and paces past the nautically inspired remodeled staircase — the original street-side upstairs porch was reconstructed as a sun and reading room.

Bathrooms throughout were redesigned and updated. A full wall of built-ins was added in the master as well as additional closet space. And for more efficient and modern convenience an elevator was also installed.

I can t tell you the difference from before and after [the renovations] says Cathy Maready who was given complete creative freedom to transform the home s interior d�cor from its existing dark and outdated look to a more airy and modern beach style.

With the exception of one bedspread fabric nixed early on by Wright every subsequent selection Maready personally made for the homeowners during the design process culminated seamlessly into a stunning showcase of soothing spa-inspired colors complemented by classic coastal furniture and d�cor.

 Everything Cathy picked out I loved. I was in Ohio the whole time [during the process] Carol says. I came down once to pick out light fixtures. Cathy would ask if I wanted to see something and I would say  No just send pictures. I trust you.  

Finally came the moment of truth Carol laughs recalling the first time she and Tim were greeted by Maready at their sight-unseen newly decorated home.

We pull up into the driveway in the dark at 9 pm that first time. Cathy is waiting here with all the lights on. And I had seen nothing. No pictures. Nothing. My husband and I are just sitting in the car and he says  Well this will either be the smartest thing you ever did — or the dumbest.

Now after gray and cold winters in Ohio Carol says she is more than ready in the spring to make her way south to the beach where she and Tim embrace the coastal lifestyle all summer at their newly renovated and updated home.

I enjoy staying here now. Before I was mostly in and out. Now I am happy just to be here she reflects one recent summer afternoon while standing — appropriately dressed in beach attire — on her back porch overlooking the marsh.

Then laughing she says I obviously got my bedspreads and then some.



resources Creating this Home of Distinction


Tim and Carol Wright


Michael Kersting

Michael Ross Kersting Architecture

Building Contractor

Fran Colangelo

KingPost Design & Construction

Interior Designer

Cathy Maready

Elephant Ears Fine Interiors & Design

Project Manager

Mark Wilson

Michael Ross Kersting Architecture


Atlantic Appliance & Hardware

Audio/Visual Electronics and Wiring

Port City Sound & Security

Kitchen/Bath/Specialty Hardware Plumbing Fixtures

Bird Decorative Hardware & Bath


West Plumbing Co.


Blanchard Electric Inc.

Electric Fixtures

Ferguson Enterprises Inc.

Lighting Fixtures

Elephant Ears Fine Interiors & Design

Wood Flooring Restoration/Hardwood Installer

King s Custom Hardwoods Inc.

Hardwood Supplier

FitzGerald Wood Product


Special Wood Inc.

Kitchen/Master Bath Marble/Granite Supplier

Sellers Tile Company Inc.

Marble/Granite Installer

Corian Supplier/Installer

Bluewater Surfaces

Tile Supplier

Southeastern Tile Connection Inc.

Kitchen Backsplash and Fireplace Surround/Tile Installer

Inline Tile & Marble Inc.

Carpet Supplier

Stark Carpet

Carpet Installer

Rob s Carpet Services

Cabinet Manufacturer/Installer

Coastal Cabinets

Countertops/Stone Cutter/Installer

Bluewater Surfaces


KingPost Design & Construction


JP Painting


Greendot Heating & Air Conditioning

Landscape Design/Pavement and Driveway

Landscapes Unique

Fireplace Insert

Parker Gas Solutions

Custom Furniture/Rugs/Art/Antiques/Draperies/Wallcoverings

Elephant Ears Fine Interiors & Design