As a designer, Kristin Tharpe likes to paint a picture for her clients of what their home could look like through renderings of interior design overhauls and additions. Shortly after that, the plan is put into action. Paint changes, new furniture, and artwork all transform the space into the vision Tharpe presented early on in the design process.
But when the Raleigh-based designer was faced with redesigning her new home, no renderings were done, no plans were put into action. Instead, she waited. “Our home sold fairly quickly, so we had to rush to find a new one,” she says. Tharpe and her husband, Gray, quickly fell in love with a home that had traditional bones and plenty of character. Of course, they knew that they would want to renovate rooms like the kitchen and master bathroom, but when it came to the interiors, Tharpe knew that deferring was the wisest choice.
“There were things I knew I wanted to change, but I made myself wait a year before doing anything major to the home,” she explains. “I really wanted us to live in the space for a while and see what we liked and what didn’t work for our family. That was really the hardest thing, having to wait. As a designer, you want to go in and get everything done immediately. This was a testament to my patience for sure!”
Tharpe’s resolve to live in the home for a year paid off. The kitchen, for example, needed a major overhaul; but in hindsight, Tharpe’s conservative approach saved some beautiful cabinetry details along with the whole island concept. “There were definitely things I would have torn out initially when we first moved in that, in retrospect, I would’ve been really upset about losing,” she says. “We gutted pretty much the entire space and reworked the layout and flow, so it made more sense for our family.”
The disproportioned island was made larger and topped with a bright Carrara marble counter while the existing wood butcher block on the perimeter counters was replaced with modeled black soapstone. “The wood counters were just too heavy when coupled with the wood floors, so we really wanted to lighten things up,” she says. The Carrara marble backsplash installed in a herringbone pattern brightens the space.
The living spaces were dark, and every room was a different color. “Everything was brown, and it just felt so heavy and like nothing worked together,” Tharpe says. “I remember thinking when we first saw the home that this would definitely have to change.” A dose of new paint updated the entire home and laid the groundwork for Tharpe’s vision, which included an updated furniture and lighting layout and new finishes.
It was the living room where Tharpe spent most of her time reimagining the space. Here, she added recessed lighting and a chandelier, which gave the room an instant facelift. The designer’s signature layering of textures and fabrics, as well as mixing and matching of styles is apparent in the living room. Classic, timeless pieces like the Hickory Chair sofa are paired with more modern touches like a stunning gallery wall of framed fabric swatches found in an antique French textile book. A traditional headdress from Cameroon serves as a unique centerpiece above the fireplace, all complemented by pieces Tharpe collected during scouting trips at home and abroad.
Though it was a test of patience for the designer to hold off on diving into her new home’s redesign, it paid off. Tharpe was a vision of patience, and her instinct to wait was rewarded in the end. “So much of what I do is about persistence, humility, and grace,” she says. “You’re creating something and pulling it together, and ultimately you have to trust yourself. That’s always easier said than done. But in this case, trusting my instinct to hold off on the redesign [in order] to get to know the home better and how it functions best for our family was the best decision we made.”