Contemporary Touches and Timeless Treasures Meld Effortlessly in This Watts-Hillandale Home

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Historic finds pair perfectly with stylish pieces in this open-concept modern bungalow

By Brooke Spach | Photography by John Michael Simpson

The weathered oak-lined streets of the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood are dotted with historic homes, including this modern bungalow turned cozy family abode. It was originally built in the 1930s, but a refresh made by the previous owners in 2015 ripped the house down to its subfloor and unfinished basement, leaving Ginna Reynolds and Patrick Reynolds an updated blank canvas to make their own. They purchased the property in fall 2021 and moved in June 2022 following some aesthetic adjustments.

“This was more of a fine-tuning than a complete ‘rip everything out and start again,’” Ginna says. “We had a lot of good bones to work with here. We just had to make it fit our style.” Patrick and Ginna were no strangers to the area, having graduated from UNC before moving to Durham for a couple of years post-grad.

They returned to their hometown of Kinston, North Carolina, to be closer to family but were drawn back to the Triangle for Patrick’s software engineering job at Google when the company opened its Durham office in 2021.

Their previous house in Kinston had more space for their furnishings, and so they enlisted Catherine Clamage and Laura Robertson of Chartreuse Design to help integrate the colonial-style decor and antiques they already owned into their new home.

The front room’s decor pays homage to Ginna’s familial ties to North Carolina’s tobacco industry with hand-painted signs and Lucky Strike memorabilia.

“The Reynolds love traditional furnishings, and Ginna has many family heirloom antiques that were important to incorporate in the design plan,” Catherine says. “They asked us to assess their existing furniture and help them decide what to keep and what to purchase in order to merge their existing furniture with the style of the home,” Laura explains.

Patrick, who needed to go into his office somewhat regularly, lived in the home with just a mattress and couch while the redesign took shape, and Ginna stayed in Kinston with their children, Annie Reynolds, 8, and Chip Reynolds, 2, so that Annie could finish out the school year. Ginna says she felt confident leaving the project in Catherine and Laura’s capable hands.

“It was nice not to be living in the middle of it,” she says. “I kept telling them, ‘When we get here with the moving truck, I want it to be ready [to live in].’ Of course, that’s not reasonable, because that’s just the way things work, but it was real close. We had almost everything done.”

Tailored Transformation
The home’s open concept deviated from the closed floor plan of their Kinston house, so Ginna and Patrick tried to strike a balance between a fluid layout and maintaining the boundaries of each space. The great room is functionally split into four areas: dining room, kitchen, living room and office. Major updates included removing the shingles (yes, roof shingles!) above the mantle, adding large light fixtures in the living room and kitchen and adding a pop of color to the builtin bookshelves. The downstairs powder room underwent the largest transformation, with a new vanity, lighting and eclectic wallpaper.

“We loved that the clients were open to both color and pattern and wanted something unique,” Catherine says. “Ginna reacted with total excitement when we presented the burl wood vanity and Galbraith & Paul wallpaper combination. Designing this jewel box powder room was definitely a highlight of this project.”

The chest in the entryway belonged to Ginna’s great-great-grandmother. “Weaving meaningful personal belongings with complementary paint colors, patterns, finish choices, textural elements and accessories makes a house feel like home,” Laura says.

When it finally came time to move in in June 2022, it was like fitting puzzle pieces into place as the family’s belongings arrived from Kinston. Patrick and Ginna also called on expert organizer Perri Kersh to help them maximize their space. Laura and Catherine were on hand to direct the larger items as the moving truck was unloaded, and Perri ensured all of the smaller necessities, like kitchen utensils and office supplies, had a rightful place.

Annie requested that the walls be painted yellow, her favorite color, for her bedroom makeover that now highlights rainbows and unicorns.

square feet
year built
demolished to subfloor
year bought
April 2022
renovations begin
Sept. 2022
renovations conclude

“Perri is amazing; she and the folks she works with,” Ginna says. “It was nice to have that happening at the same time as the design; it was looking good, but was also a million times more functional than we had ever been.”

The family naturally encountered the shortages and long wait periods that hampered most home improvement projects during the pandemic, delaying the home’s progress. But Ginna says that the most challenging components came from unexpected small details like replacing cabinet knobs and adding a pocket door to the pantry and laundry room. “It was such a long, drawn-out process that it was hard to remember exactly how much there was to it,” Ginna says.

“Once we got everything together, we looked at the pictures from the listing when we bought it and compared it to what it looks like now,” Patrick says. “You kind of forget, you know … a light fixture here, a little touch over there … it makes a big difference.”

Settling In
The couple was drawn to the neighborhood’s charm, community and prime location. Patrick, who had worked from home since 2013, now appreciates going into his downtown office while not sacrificing any of the convenience. They’re also within walking distance of Westover and Oval Drive parks, which are perfect outings for the kids, and they frequent nearby LocoPops as well as Mateo Bar de Tapas.

It was no small feat to create a cohesive design that made use of Patrick and Ginna’s existing decor and family treasures while leveraging the modern feel of a new home, but Laura and Catherine skillfully intertwined cherished heirlooms with contemporary elements, ultimately crafting a space that embodies the family’s past and present.

“They did a really good job of respecting and honoring the fact that I wanted to keep a lot of things the way that I already liked them while also making it all fit in a way that’s, honestly, a lot better than it was before,” Ginna says. “It feels like us. It feels like ours.”

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Brooke Spach

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