Coastal Cure

Commercial designer Heather Jennings turned her talents inward to imbue her home with a comfortable and stylish coast vibe.

HEATHER JENNINGS AND HER PARTNER KARL ROGERS had been looking for a home near downtown Raleigh for six months, with no luck. “The real estate market in Raleigh at the time was so hot that finding a piece of land to build our dream home felt nearly impossible,” says Jennings of 2019. “A house we really wanted down the street was sold out from under us, and we were devastated.”

Luckily though, the hurdles, twists, and turns were worth it. Months later, the couple found a lot in the Five Points neighborhood, which afforded them plenty of land and bicyclefriendly sidewalks ideal for their young family. “We loved the historic feel of the neighborhood,” explains Jennings, a commercial interior designer. “We love a mix of new and old homes, which is exactly what Five Points has. We’re not the cookie cutter type family.”

The couple razed the existing house and enlisted Grayson Homes to help build a classic, streamlined home for their family of five. As a former fashion designer, Jennings has always kept abreast of trends, which often translate into interior design. “When you’re a fashion designer, that design process is all about intuition, trends, shopping, and traveling for inspiration,” she explains. “As I transitioned into commercial design, I really had to slow down and stop relying on the trend piece of it. With my commercial design business, I’ve had to practice evidencebased design, which is less about intuition and more about color theories, space planning, things that can be measured in a specific way. And I really believe you can see that in this house. Some things have this quirky, fun, Paris-meets-surfing-in-L.A. vibe, but it’s all very planned out so that the floorplans and spatiality make a lot of sense.”

That vintage coastal aesthetic coupled with Jennings’ knack for spatial planning allowed her to seamlessly install a design that was functional but stylish for her young family. “We wanted it to feel like a casual beach house in the middle of Raleigh,” she says. Jennings began laying the groundwork for her design by painting most walls pale pink and installing light bleached oak hardwood floors throughout. “I use this same pale pink in a lot in my commercial design projects because it’s so soothing,” she explains. “It’s a defining characteristic of our home that everybody asks about and loves.”

From there, it was all about layers and textures. “I like a lot of neutrals, a lot of whites and nudes with pops of accent colors,” she says. “I incorporated a good amount of grasscloth for texture, too, as well as textured linen in Roman shades and draperies.” Pops of gold accents throughout the home provide an additional dose of color, like in the living room, where a pair of Aerin Lauder table lamps help frame the fireplace as a focal point.

But while style was a high priority in the design of the home, so, too, was functionality. The home needed to stand up to the high traffic of little feet and dirty hands while also providing a soft place to relax after a long day. To provide ultra-durability, Jennings incorporated several commercial-grade fabrics in her home. The home office desk chair is swathed in Maharam Darning Sampler fabric, while the stunning Eames chair in the primary bedroom is reupholstered in the same. The living room features a pair of sofas covered in white Kravet commercial-grade velvet, a move most people would find dicey in a high traffic space. “I always wanted to have beautiful white sofas, but I think a lot of people are afraid of white,” Jennings says. “That’s why I use so many commercial-grade fabrics. They’re bleach cleanable, which is why I love this velvet by Kravet.”

Though a designer’s home is constantly evolving, Jennings feels like the resulting design truly hit the mark of what she and Rogers were looking for when they began the process. “I went to France this summer and visited this really cool coastal town, and I translated many of those things into my home,” she says. “I often think to myself, ‘Wow, we really nailed that seaside vibe with our house.’ I love that our home is welcoming in a beach-house kind of way, but still has a lot of elements that elevate it. We could not be happier with how it turned out, and how the vibe makes our family and friends feel when they’re in our home.”