Traditional Hip

BY Lou Anne Liverman

Weve been in Wilmington 14 years but waited until we had our first child for this house say the homeowners who have a 4-year-old daughter and are expecting a second baby in mid-March. We knew exactly what we wanted our home to be. Functional. Comfortable. Calm. Traditional. But with a twist they laugh.

We live casually. You wont find too many formal gatherings in our home — especially at this stage of our lives. You are much more likely to find us hosting kid birthday parties or oyster roasts in our backyard and so our home definitely needed to fit our casual lifestyle. It needed to be a family house first and foremost.

Enter Wilmington residential design firm Design House known for spacious quaint-looking homes that offer more livability in less space. Principal designers John Croom and Troy Kenny matched what the homeowners desired for their home and growing family.

We knew immediately that their passion was love of family; and that they wanted a special home to fulfill their familys needs and to reflect their passions Kenny says. The home needed to encourage togetherness while at the same time offering sanctuary. They had a definite wish list to this end.

One wish was a kitchen area that was traditional in appearance and function but also spacious and open enough for family and friend gatherings. Nestled in the heart of the home this central area spans the entire width of the house. Creative cooking and inspired conversation come naturally in the galley-like center; whereas family food and friend overflow is welcomed and encouraged in the adjoining family and breakfast rooms. Book-ending the cooking/island area each of these side rooms features various structural focal points such as window walls fireplaces and French doors seamlessly blending the hub of the home with both practical function and complementary architectural aesthetics.

Builder David James articulated the architectural design.

I like to say we [the builder] put the color into a home James says. The house is drafted initially in black and white; and from that point we come in and strive to give the homeowner exactly what he or she wants structurally in a custom home. The couple wanted a traditional brick home adapted to our coastal environment. Porches terraces and outside living spaces of course are very desirable in this case.

Case in point the ceiling-to-floor window wall in the family room. From this room French doors open to a covered brick porch offering an extended outdoor living space. Additionally steps from the porch lead to a meticulously landscaped flagstone terrace perfect for relaxing or dining alfresco. An outdoor shower just beyond the terrace beckons after a summer day at the beach.

Located at the north end of a Head Road subdivision the home is adjacent to a wooded area within sight of Hewletts Creek sited at the lots highest elevation while the terrace and lawn are nestled into its slope.

We worked closely with the owners and I got to know them pretty well. Their home definitely reflects their casual coastal lifestyle James says. Ipe wood floors are his favorite choice. In my opinion a floor sets the style of the home and I think this choice was perfect for the look they wanted. Ipe is generally a flooring used on decks but they brought it inside and it made a huge impact.

James is also fond of the man cave.

The owner was the creative genius in that room James laughs. He knew exactly what he wanted. Creatively and intentionally tucked upstairs and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday home life the man cave is every mans dream getaway room.

It is a separate place for my husband to go for some much-needed quiet. He is a doctor and often on call and so there are those days when he needs a quiet place to sleep in the day the homeowner says. Along with the kitchen this room was the other big wish. My husband basically made all the furniture and design decisions in that room.

Credit goes to Liz Carroll of Liz Carroll Interiors for the rest of the homes overall d?cor.

We had seen Lizs work and felt confident she could help us pull together some of our stuffier furniture pieces with more casual and contemporary pieces the homeowners say. When the couple moved into their new home they had already purchased a lot of the basic furniture pieces — sofas chairs dining tables beds nightstands coffee tables rugs ottomans — they thought would make their house a home. Not necessarily so the owners laugh. It was at this point that Carroll was called upon. However because of a demanding workload it would be a few months before she could meet with the couple and devise a design plan to finish out the rooms.

It was well worth the wait. Now after one- and one-half years the home delivers a decor deemed traditional-hip Carroll says.

Clients are often disappointed and perhaps dont understand why the rooms feel empty even with furniture. You have to add the finishing touches she says. Homes really start to sing when you add window treatments pillows accessories lighting artwork and other details that bring it all together. They had a lot of furniture for the rooms but we wanted to complement the heavier furniture with clean fresh light lines.

She nailed it the homeowners say. Liz picked up on our personality very quickly and gave us exactly the look we were hoping for noting the formal dining room as the perfect marriage of new and old; traditional and contemporary.

Adjacent to the foyer the dining room had an existing mahogany pedestal dining table and upholstered Queen Anne chairs and a chandelier. However the chandelier was too stuffy and was replaced. Paired with glass pedestal lamps on the sideboard along with a silver mirror inlaid with smaller mirrors the ambience grounded in dark wood pieces is inspired by flashes of gold and crystal into the more hip-traditional look the couple hoped for. Lined linen window treatments were the final touch.

I love window treatments. They always finish a room Carroll explains. Here we opted for plain linen draperies but I added more fabric as trim and then additional trim for lots of subtle detail.

Having put her talented touch on most every room in the home Carroll hesitates to say which is her favorite room. Thats so hard to say she laughs. Probably the master bedroom. It was really a treat to give the parents a special retreat. And also the childrens rooms were fun. Honestly I think every room turned out really well.

The couple admits at times the process from start to finish was a bit overwhelming. They agree going slow was great. Everyone was so supportive of what we wanted and we got exactly what we hoped for: a home we could see ourselves raising our children in.  

Creating this Home of Distinction

Troy Kenny and John Croom Design House

Building Contractor
David James and Company

Interior Designer/Custom Furniture
Liz Carroll Interiors

Atlantic Distributors

Port City Sound and Security

Fixtures/Hardware/Plumbing Fixtures
Bird Decorative Hardware and Bath
RJP Plumbing   

SKC Electric

Electric Fixtures
Kitchen and Lighting Designs

Lighting Fixtures
Kitchen and Lighting Designs Liz Carroll Interiors and Visual Comfort

Hardwood Installer
Intercoastal Hardwood Floor Inc.

Tile Installer
Apex Tile and Marble Inc.

Carpet Supplier
Crystal Carpet and Flooring Company

Cabinet Mfg.
Hollingsworth Cabinetry

Southeastern Marble and Granite

Carolina Closet Company

Airmax Heating and Cooling

Classic Landscapes

Liz Carroll Interiors and Paysage

Patterson Custom Drapery

Wall Coverings
Liz Carroll Interiors Thibaut and Phillip Jefferies

Benjamin Moore

Window Supplier
Coastal Windows and Door