The Unassuming COTTAGE

Posted by Erdem Gorgun at

A circa-1927 home is transformed into an unexpectedly grand cottage on a hill in the heart of Myers Park.

It was time to go. The couple had been toying with the idea of moving to Myers Park from their Concord-area home to shorten their work commutes, and one particular home kept popping up during their search. “My husband kept showing it to me, and I just kept telling him, ‘No. It’s way too big; it costs too much’,” she says. It wasn’t until a family friend suggested they go look at the home “just to see,” that the couple finally scheduled a showing. “Literally, as soon as we walked in, I knew it was the one,” she says. Within hours, the couple put an offer on the home. After much back and forth, though, the homeowners eventually rejected the couple’s final negotiated offer. “At this point, we’d already sold our house, so we had to move into a hotel,” she explains. “Our heart was set on that home, and we didn’t have a plan B. But as I was packing my things, we got the call from our realtor that they wanted to know if we’d still honor our last offer.” The home, it seems, was meant to be theirs. While they loved the bones of the circa-1927 Colonial-style home, they knew that it would need updating. That renovation, though, would not take place until nine years later when their next door neighbor offered to sell the couple their home. “We were ecstatic,” she says. Tearing down the adjacent home would allow the couple to expand their existing home while also making room for the swimming pool the husband had dreamed of having in the backyard. “It was the perfect situation,” she says. “Tearing down that home would allow us the space we needed to do everything we wanted.” Not long after purchasing the adjacent home, the couple reached out to architect Frank Smith whose vision for the home was to maintain its stunning yet unassuming cottage curb appeal and seamlessly expand the home so that you could never tell where the original structure began and where the addition and renovation started. “We probably went through five or six drawings with Frank before we got to the point where we knew this renovation was exactly what we wanted,” she says. 

 To expand the kitchen from its original galley style and make room for the swimming pool and outdoor living area—both hers and his top priorities with the renovation, respectively—the footprint of the home needed to be reworked. The couple enlisted the help of designer Laura Archibald, who worked closely with Smith to redesign the existing home’s layout to better fit the homeowners’ needs. What was once the living room became the dining room while the former dining room was transformed into a library with a staircase that leads to the second floor. The original garage transitioned into the new master suite while the existing den remained as is. With the addition came a larger living room, new kitchen, and a threecar garage with a room above.

 Though the renovation nearly doubled the square footage of the home, the ultimate goal was to design a home that was aesthetically appropriate for the neighborhood. Being a oneand-a-half-story home, it’s unassuming from the street. “People often don’t realize how large the home really is when you see it from the sidewalk,” the homeowner says. “And being that it’s situated on a hill, we really wanted to make sure we weren’t going vertical with our square footage.” Archibald helped create a comfortable interior with the use of a calm, soothing color palette of greys and neutrals. Though the homeowners ideally wanted to use most of their existing furniture and accessories, Archibald ultimately installed new pieces while seamlessly weaving in some of the older items from the home’s original design. In the dining room, Archibald kept the original dining room table but switched out the traditional chairs for more transitional ones by Charles Stewart in a Duralee fabric while the homeowners’ china cabinet was “the perfect size for that space, so we decided to keep it in the mix,” Archibald says. In the den, the designer reupholstered the existing oversize sofa in a Pindler fabric but then added a pair of new Charles Stewart armchairs. “It was really about elevating the look to a more transitional style with color and textures,” Archibald explains. “It was such a departure from what we were used to,” the homeowner says. “But it was exactly what we wanted, and Laura nailed it.” The one-time small galley kitchen was transformed into a stunning open-air room overlooking the den. Archibald and the homeowners worked closely on the design of the kitchen designing the custom cabinetry by Johnson Custom Cabinetry and choosing the finishes and appliances. Because of its proximity to a living space, Archibald wanted to make sure the kitchen table felt more like an extension of the den, so she added a metal-top table by Bernhardt she found at High Point market coupled with skirted upholstered dining chairs on the side facing the living space. Opposite, a simple custom-designed bench slides under the table leaving more room between the counters and dining area. Backless counter stools by Hickory Chair keep the view from the kitchen to the den open. “Laura was always spot on with her fabric choices and colors,” the homeowner says. “We loved everything she picked for us and how she also kept some of our pieces in the look.” Though the couple wasn’t planning to fall in love with this house when they first saw it in 2003, today—with the renovation and addition—they can’t imagine their home being anywhere else but here. “Frank and Laura and this team brought our dream to fruition,” the homeowner says. “I didn’t know it back then, but this was exactly what we needed and wanted.

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