Paring Down and Brightening Up

When Jane and Bill decided to downsize from their larger home in Cary, the couple naturally looked at some of the older historic homes near downtown Raleigh for a gem that they could make their own. “We wanted to be closer to all the restaurants, museums and culture we enjoy,” explains Jane. They found the perfect cottage-style home in the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood of Raleigh and got to work adding style to their corner lot home. 

Originally a duplex, the home was built in 1913 to house teachers from the nearby Methodist Children’s home. The Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002 and is just a short distance to the downtown area. Before the couple purchased the home, the two rental units had undergone an extensive renovation by contractor Duncan Ray, adding a master bedroom, bath and a front porch. Both fireplaces were saved, creating a warm, inviting spaces for a three bedroom, three bath home. 

Coming from their mostly neutral home in Cary, Jane was certain she wanted a home with lots of color and was drawn to a more modern aesthetic. She walked into the Design Lines office and was greeted by her new designer, Lauren McKay. “The challenge was to create an upbeat functional environment within a small space of only 1780 square feet,” says Jane. A former art gallery owner and museum director, Jane had collected quite a few pieces of art for their home and the couple drew inspiration for color and design from their favorite pieces, including “Frida and Me” by Miriam Schapiro.

Working with a palette of blues, greens and purples, Lauren took cues from the space to pull a cohesive look together. “The style that you create in a home doesn’t have to match the architecture,” suggests Lauren. “I think it’s fun to mix more modern pieces with older homes – the style is easily transitional and typically timeless.” She called in a trim carpenter to construct an over-mantle so that the homeowners could put a TV over the fireplace and used local resources to furnish almost the entire home, while Jane snuck in some pieces from their favorite store, West Elm. “We like unusual or one-of-a-kind objects, so we try to buy original artwork and local pottery,” Jane adds. 

When asked what their favorite rooms are, both Jane and Lauren chime in. “I really like the serene quality of our master bedroom,” says Jane. “I thought I was more of a warm color person, but I feel very comfortable within the calming blues and greens of that space.” Lauren adds that her favorite is actually the guest bathroom. “I just love that wallpaper and it really is a retreat for guests.”