When your husband is a custom homebuilder, finding the right home for your family is as easy as building the perfect one.
MOLLY AND WARD RUSSELL found the ideal lot on Beaufort Street and fell in love with the historic area and comfortable feel of the neighborhood. Since Ward is the president of Legacy Custom Homes, designing and building the home with his team was a natural choice and they got straight to work. Over the next year, they completed the build and design of the home and when it came to choosing an interior designer, it was also an easy process – the recommendation couldn’t have come from a more reliable source...their family.
Having seen the work Susan Tollefson did for her brother and sister-in-law, Molly felt confident that she would do an equally amazing job on her home. Molly, Ward, their two girls and Susan all collectively decided that their home needed to have an unpretentious, comfortable feel, but with a more modern pizzazz than their previous home. “I am definitely more non-traditional in my own personal taste,” offers Susan. “Molly has a great eye and an open mind and what’s more fun than clients that embrace my quirky style in their own look?” Susan adds that the base of the living area downstairs needed to be neutral, but that color was to be added through fabric, accessories and art.
Pulling from a mix of antique stores, designers and local artists, Susan created a comfortable, but sophisticated look that was full of personality and thoughtfully put together. “My motto with clients is ‘if you love it, we can make it work,”explains Susan. “I like using personal things of clients – I think the stories behind those ‘things’ are what makes them interesting, not the accessories themselves.” A local designer, Louise Gaskill Company, created the unique dining room and living room chandelier fixtures, offering a bespoke look that’s often hard to find in new homes. “She buys vintage lighting and glass, takes it apart and uses different pieces and custom finishes to make beautiful lamps and chandeliers,” says Susan, adding that each piece is a one-of-a-kind gem. The team also wanted to use some of the family pieces that belong to Molly and Ward. Molly’s Uncle, for example, finished the vanity piece in the powder room and the corner cabinet in the living room was passed down through Ward’s family.
“You do not have to have one color that ‘flows’ into every room,” advises Susan. “You can mix it up. I think the goal is to make every room have its own personality and purpose. Maybe you need a really dark room where you can escape and feel cozy, or a happy room with lots of color when you need to feel energized.” When it came to the bathrooms, Susan employed one of her design tips by keeping it classic. “Marble and white never go out of style,” she advises. She also isn’t afraid to mix metals, giving permission to use chrome faucets and natural brass door hardware in the same space. “I PROMISE it’s ok! It makes everything more interesting and not so cookie cutter.”
When asked what her design secret is, Molly is quick to say that it’s Susan. “Susan is the best kept secret in Raleigh! What she says, I do. I want my house to feel comfortable but fun.” What’s the secret to design? Just a couple rules of thumb – if you love it, buy it, display in threes and fives and don’t be afraid to mix it up. “Mid Century modern Lucite looks great with a classic Pembroke side table,” says Susan.
When it came to the living area and kitchen being open to each other in one long room, Molly says it’s one of her favorite spaces in the home. “It’s the hub. It’s an area where we can all be together – whether we’re watching a movie, cooking a fun dinner or just relaxing. It’s sophisticated and family friendly – that’s a win-win.” Susan chimes in saying that she loves all the spaces, but the kids’ study room is funky and cool and she particularly loves the master bathroom. “That wallpaper is off the chain!”