The Cool Intentions Behind This Cleveland-Holloway Home

The Cool Intentions Behind This Cleveland-Holloway Home

Furnished with handmade pieces and equipped with a solar power system, Alison Trott's new home was built to last


A Durham native, Alison Trott grew up primarily in the Watts Hospital and then Trinity Park neighborhoods, and attended North Carolina School of Science and Math. Now, she’s made her own home on the other side of downtown. Architects Tina Govan and Jason Hart and builder Bob Wuopio helped Alison thoughtfully design her nearly 3,500-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath contemporary home in Cleveland-Holloway. The aim was to create spaces to entertain guests and to raise a family, with no plans to ever move.


This private courtyard encircles just the master suite, “so when my senior dog wants to go out at 4 in the morning, I can just let her out,” Alison, sitting with her pup, India, says. “And it creates some privacy for the bedroom, so I don’t need to have curtains or privacy screens; I can feel like it’s open but still somewhat private.


Alison adores “the openness and how much natural light you get,” she says. “I find I very rarely turn on lights during the day because you don’t really need to. I love the flow of the house.

“I had parties at my old house where I put everything out of the kitchen so that nobody had to go in there,” Alison says, “and yet 15 people would still cram in my tiny kitchen, because it’s just what happens.” That problem is now avoided thanks to the open concept of the living, dining and kitchen areas, as builder Bob and friends Justin Dahlke and Aubrey Delaney demonstrate (pictured above). “People seem to congregate in the spaces as they’re intended – it’s very comfortable and natural.”

She also utilized the talents of local woodworkers: Elijah Leed crafted the stools in the kitchen, in addition to a few other pieces of furniture. Evan Berding built her beds and nightstands. “Have stuff made,” she advises. “Price wise, you’re going to roughly be in the same department, you know what you’re getting, and you’re keeping your money in the local economy.”


An avid homebrewer herself, Alison was keen to have her own kegerator system installed with lines that run up to the kitchen. “That’s definitely a feature of the house that I’ve enjoyed and taken advantage of,” she says. “It has been really good for entertaining.” Some of the beers she’s had on tap include Durty Bull Brewing Company’s Rice IPA and Hibiscus Ginger Berliner Weisse, and Lonerider’s Sweet Josie Brown Ale.


In addition to the beautiful North Carolina quarried Nor-Carla bluestone countertops and shower skylight, you might notice the sliding frosted glass door in the master bath. “I have always loved having outdoor showers,” Alison says, “and this feels like an outdoor shower, but it’s an indoor shower.” It makes perfect sense when you consider what’s on the other side of the wall: “You can just come out of the hot tub and straight to the shower, or vice versa,” Alison says, “so you don’t have to trek through the house.” At left, Alison’s friends Cassie Germano and Ryan Cawley join her for a drink in the the semi-private patio space that’s adjacent to the master suite.

I love Durham. I grew up here; this is my place. So I’m doing what I can to support a conscious growth.


The living room features accordion doors that can be pulled back, and the option of an electric screen that comes down to provide a transparent barrier between the indoor and outdoor spaces – ideal for keeping the bugs out and India, as well as cats Salem, Tsume and Quatra, in. “I do love the porch in the front,” Alison says. “I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting out there in the evenings and talking to the neighbors as they walked by. I met a bunch of people that way, actually. It’s a great place to take in the neighborhood; that was something that was really important to me, and I think [my architects] really just nailed it.”


Alison’s grandfather purchased these vintage pinball machines from “either a laundromat or 7-Eleven that was going under,” Alison says. “They worked on and off during my childhood, and eventually stopped working.” She got the machines – one dates from 1957 and the other from 1963 – when her grandparents passed away. John Clements out of Raleigh refurbished the old-school games, and now “they play like a dream,” as Cassie and Ryan show off here.


The roof deck on the second floor features a table crafted by Alison’s builder, Bob, out of slabs of a pecan tree that once stood on the property. It makes the space ideal for enjoying mild nights and good company, including little Matilda Dahlke, held by Alison (above). The deck overlooks both the 12-kilowatt solar power system from Southern Energy Management that sits atop the carport (“If I’m not using a ton of electronics, it pretty much covers my usage every day,” Alison says.) and the green roof, a low-maintenance roofing alternative by XeroFlor that features plants in place of shingles. “I’m a big fan of green roofing for a lot of different reasons,” Alison says, “and I could talk your ear off about it.” There’s a waterproof layer followed by a tar layer that lasts about 150 years or more, and above that is various filtration components and soil media, and finally the green mats with a variety of flora. “Essentially it means you never have to replace your roof,” Alison says.

Photography by Briana Brough