Fresh Style

For Carrie and Rob Carickhoff, it was all about the bones. The couple had been looking for almost a year for the perfect home for their growing family, but nothing ever truly clicked. Until one day, a close friend mentioned a home was for sale down the street that they should take a peek at. “It was old and dated and needed a ton of work,” says Carickhoff, of the circa-1985 Colonial home. “But as soon as I walked in I fell in love. I loved the curved archways, the crown molding; even the layout was great. The bones of the house were exceptional. It was spacious and I instantly felt at home there.”

Within weeks, the couple and their two young daughters had moved in with immediate plans to address the outdated cosmetic finishes of the home. First on the list: the kitchen. Formica countertops and golden pine shaker-style cabinetry was far from the look Carickhoff had envisioned for her dream home. “I like things clean, white, and very minimal,” says the former buyer-turned-store owner, whose women’s boutique Mckenzie Claire opened this past spring in Dilworth. “I like a clean, edited, calm feel to a home.” To help implement the vision Carickhoff had for not only the kitchen but the rest of the home, she enlisted designer Lane Brown, who works with acclaimed designer Phoebe Howard in Charlotte. “Carrie knew exactly what she wanted,” says Brown. “She wanted a look that had a strong traditional foundation layered with more modern elements to it.”

With the help of Brown and Scott Evert of Premier Renovations, Inc., the kitchen got a complete overhaul including new, sleek white cabinets, quartz counters to hold up to frequent paint, craft, and food messes, and redone hardwood floors. Though keeping the finishes and furnishings of the home kid friendly was never a priority, “Lane just knew me so well and knew how families with kids live that she added elements without really needing me to give her the green light,” says Carickhoff. The oversize banquette in the breakfast nook, for example, is swathed in a faux vinyl leather by Pindler & Pindler making it easy to wipe off the inevitable spill or mess. To help flood the space with light, Brown added a large convex mirror, which also helped make the modest space feel instantly larger.

Though furnished with accessories one might otherwise store away until the kids are grown up, the dining and living rooms are where Brown coupled those more delicate items with more durable finishes. The result: a sophisticated coupling of rooms ideal for entertaining but livable enough for two children under 10. The Carickhoffs’ existing antique dining table and hostess chairs were given new life with a coat of paint and reupholstered in a durable, washable velvet accented with a subtle Samuel & Sons trim. A stunning Venetian mirror not only heightens the ceiling but it also mimics the home’s existing archways, an element Carickhoff adores in her home. “It’s very simply decorated,” says Brown. “It’s no fuss but very pretty.”

Pretty is exactly how to describe the living room, which is used just as frequently by the Carickhoffs as their family room. Walls painted in Alaskan Husky by Benjamin Moore give way to the traditional all-white Hickory Chair sofa and accenting chairs. The addition of a cowhide throw underneath a more modern Lucite coffee table adds a touch of modernity to the otherwise ultra-traditional décor, a must for Carickhoff, who mixes and matches vintage with new in her personal style.

The family room is a near mirror of the living room in that “it just feels pretty,” says Brown. White wood paneling instantly creates a more casual feel to the space where the family unwinds and watches TV, plays games and puzzles, or catches a quick cat nap. To provide ample seating for everyone to relax, Brown ditched the idea of a traditional sectional in favor of two sofas arranged in an L-shape while a tufted ottoman on casters allows everyone to move around seamlessly. The piece de resistance, though, is the framed hand-painted Gracie wall covering, which Carickhoff had been dying to incorporate into her home somehow. “Lane knew my style and found this Gracie wall covering and it fit perfectly into the room,” says Carickhoff. “It’s truly my most favorite thing in our home.”

Though the family is thrilled with the clean, edited, yet inherently comfortable design of the home, Carickhoff knows there’s always more to be done. “I love decorating a house and have loved working with Lane on this one,” she says. “There is always room to add more. I don’t think it’ll ever be finished.”

Photography by Dustin Peck.