The Kohn home is sweeping and sunny, a vision of neutrals and space and architectural details. “The architect tried to tell me I was putting in too many windows,” laughs Jacque Kohn. “We’ve lived in so many dark houses that I really wanted extra windows. Normally, we rarely turn on our lights during the day. It [naturally] stays nice and bright.”
Bright, big (8,700 sq. ft.) and remarkably welcoming is the name of the game in this custom construction home in Colvard Farms that Jacque and her husband, Brad, moved into last year. They wanted something big enough to fit everybody comfortably – daughters Emily, 14, Elizabeth, 13, and Olivia and Hannah, both 12, all of whom attend Durham Academy, plus Yorkie Sophie and pugs Henry, Quincy and Arthur – without sacrificing utility or style. “We really, really like [the end result],” Jacque says. “It’s nice to come home.” Loyd Builders in Apex constructed the custom home designed by architect Tony Frazier of Raleigh-based Frazier Home Design.
Ironically, the part of the house that’s used the most is one of the house’s smallest and most practical. Tucked off of the kitchen is an office of sorts: four desks along two walls, one for each daughter, and a larger desk for Jacque along a third wall. Each desk bears a personalized bulletin board, and all five Kohn women spend time in the room, working together and listening to music. Called the “desk room” and “homework room” interchangeably, “that’s the one I knew we were going to do,” Jacque says. “I tore out a page in a magazine when I saw a similar setup. We have four girls and lots of homework – I love that room. I’m so glad we have it.”
With 11-foot ceilings, two variations of a downstairs family room, a movie room, a game room and a bonus room upstairs, and a kitchen with enough space for four teenage girls to bake simultaneously, the house is stately. It’s balanced by a clean aesthetic and sensible priorities. Much of the furniture has traveled with the Kohns throughout multiple houses – they spent the longest time in St. Louis, and before that lived in California and Chicago.
As Jacque’s homes change, she simply employs a little elbow grease to adapt the existing furniture. “Pretty much every piece of furniture that’s painted, I painted it,” she says. “Most of it many times.”
A number of the upholstered surfaces are also à la Jacque. The majority of Jacque’s online and retail finds were used for the girls’ bedrooms and accent pieces. But she always keeps an open mind, she says. In lieu of dining room art, there are framed blueprint sketches of the home’s early design. The simplicity comes off as chic, with an added dose of sentimentality.
Resourcefulness on fabric and furniture leaves room for splurging on accents, like the checkered shiplapped ceiling in the downstairs great room and 7-inch-wide plank wooden floors.
While rooted in functionality, the house’s sprawling nature also intentionally leaves room for tradition. Brad’s job with Cree brought the Kohns to Durham on a somewhat sudden timeline; so, the couple purposefully built a home meant for relaxing and entertaining.
Sure enough, once given the chance, rituals have formed. Take for instance the pristine white master bathroom, complete with a double-headed shower and roomy bathtub. When asked if she’s a bath-taker, Jacque says, “I wasn’t until I got that tub. I don’t think I’ve taken one in 10 years, but now I take one every week.”
Likewise, room for Emily, Elizabeth, Olivia and Hannah to all four experiment simultaneously in the kitchen has fostered an intense daughter-wide love of baking. “They all four like to make something completely different,” Jacque says. “It’s nice that everyone has a space. We once had to make nine cheesecakes for a school project.” Baking is the preference, but the girls sometimes dabble in cooking meals, too. “About once a summer we have a family dinner where we’re each in charge of a separate course,” Elizabeth explains. The dinners are a fun way to branch out of the family’s recipe norms and all gather in the kitchen together.
Crafting a home
A pastime dominant in the Kohn family that they’ve adapted the home to is crafting; it’s a tactic Jacque applies to more than just the furniture. She has an Etsy shop and blog called Wreath on the Door, where she sells handmade topiaries, pillows and other home goods, and she also has a booth at designer marketplace The Galleria Raleigh. “Mom’s had craft rooms ever since I can remember,” Emily says. “We’ve had them for so long that we’re accustomed to coming in and making something.”
The craft room includes a full-size dining room table – painted and repainted throughout the Kohns’ 18-year marriage – and one of Jacque’s favorite chandeliers, formerly brown but now with a fresh coat of matte white paint. Rows of glass jars hold supplies and tools, alongside extra topiaries and spools of fabric. It’s here that the girls gather to unwind, chatting while creating. “It’s a very well-used craft room,” Jacque says.
Across the hall is another well-used room: the man-cave. Three flat-screen TVs and a leather sectional couch are meant for sports watching, and – despite its moniker – the room isn’t just for men. “This is one of my favorite rooms, too” Elizabeth exclaims. “I like the man cave. Me and dad watch football in here.” Another use? “Eight or nine girls can line up in here, and there’s a bathroom, a little refrigerator – it’s a self-contained spot for sleepovers,” Jacque says.
Something for everybody makes for a well-loved home, one the Kohns are happily settling into. “We wanted it to be comfortable, not fussy,” Jacque says. “We wanted it to be relaxing, and I think we accomplished that.”
While the Kohns are proponents of a clean and airy interior, empty green spaces aren’t ideal. Colvard Farms backs up to Jordan Lake, but the family’s lot was deforested before they bought it. “It was pretty much just a meadow,” Jacque says.
So she employed her characteristic do-it-yourself attitude. “I found that at the farmers’ market, they sell 6-foot-tall pine trees for $10,” she says. She stocked up over multiple trips and planted them alongside the house. “We planted about 100 last year,” she says, and she plans to continue. This winter, the girls are looking forward to putting twinkling lights on their very own “Christmas tree farm,” as they call it, only nobody will be chopping these saplings down anytime soon.
Photography by Briana Brough