Best of Both Worlds

Interior designer Laura Covington creates a balanced blend of traditional and contemporary styles for a Raleigh couple’s new home in Wilmington.

Transitional design occurs when traditional and contemporary designs meet in the middle – but it’s anything but indecisive. Instead, it’s a fresh take on a classic style. It’s antique pieces juxtaposed with clean-lined modern furnishings and timeless architectural elements put up against forward-thinking flair.

It’s grand but not intimidating, elegant but welcoming. It’s the home of Jenny Purvis and her husband, Will. When the Purvises moved from Raleigh to Wilmington, they opted for new construction. They engaged Parker Group as the builder and Laura Covington of LC Interiors to handle the interior design. Covington was involved from conception to installation, providing input on everything from tile and trim to finishes and the overall palette.

“For the color scheme, we wanted it to feel soft and layered,” she explains. “We used a lot of blues and celadons, and we mixed in different textures such as textured silk curtains and a sisal diamond-patterned rug to give it a layered feel.”

The Purvises had a list of must-haves that were part of the project. Namely, they wanted a traditional floor plan complete with a dining room to the left and sitting room to the right of the foyer, but they also wanted it to flow well for entertaining. Purvis says both she and her husband grew up in homes with high ceilings, so that was a key feature as were decorative architectural details. And she wanted her favorite color, blue, to take center stage.

While the home’s s exterior doesn’t feature blue, it presents an enviable facade. The cream-colored bricks exude a patina of delicate china, nicely offset by the soft taupe of the shutters, which give the home a tonal feel. “Laura definitely nailed it with exterior paint,” Purvis says. “We wanted the house to look like it had been here for a hundred years and to blend in with the rest of the neighborhood. The two big magnolias in the front yard also help.”

Custom front doors open to a classical foyer with signature black-and-white marble floors. “There’s so much symmetry in this space; it commands attention as soon as you walk in,” Laura Purvis says, referring to the pairs of beautiful Gustavian consoles, timeless Mark D. Sikes for Henredon mirrors, and unique Visual Comfort lamps.

The great room is at once luxurious yet comfortable with a beautiful coffered ceiling soaring above a pair of swivel chairs and deep sofas, both perfect for conversation or lazy-day television-watching, with a custom grasscloth coffee table.

Flowing effortlessly from the living room is the light and airy kitchen, where there are layered tones of white, cream, and gray, offset by touches of blue in the custom lanterns and bar stools. Upholstered in soft blue faux leather, the bar stools can easily be wiped down, which is a must since the Purvises have three young children.

Jenny Purvis, who loves to cook, selected family-friendly countertops, as well. “We wanted a natural stone but didn’t want marble, where we might have to worry about spilling red wine or spaghetti sauce. So we chose quartzite, which is still a natural stone.”

And, as Covington points out, “You’ll see throughout the kitchen and the overall house, that we weren’t scared to mix metals.” The touches of gold on the bar stools mesh with the silver hardware and the custom hood. “It gives it a layered feel without being too matchy-matchy,” she adds. 

The bar space has its own layered combination, featuring silver accents, including a hammered metal sink, lots of glass, and the Old-World blue of the cabinetry and the trim on the barreled ceiling. The marble backsplash is a punchy, modern pattern that plays off the blue. “We wanted to make a statement in this space,” Covington says.

One of the more significant challenges of the home was the powder room, which is a small space tucked under a staircase. To make the room feel larger, Covington chose Mary McDonald’s Chinois Palais for Schumacher wallpaper to give the room an airy, garden-like feel. The ceiling slants above the marble vanity, so Covington created a barrel vault above it to open the space even greater.

The master bedroom has an amazing view and a similar garden-like feel with light pouring through the windows that highlight the beautiful linens, including a custom headboard covered in cream fabric, bolsters in blue-gray embroidered velvet, and a blue linen bedskirt. Even the bedside tables are wrapped in linen, adding texture and visual interest. “It’s so peaceful and soothing with the light colors and the draperies,” Purvis says. “I could sit in there all day.” Finally, the master bathroom sparkles under the silver leaf chandelier and Visual Comfort sconces. More quartzite countertops, Carrera marble flooring, and mosaic-inspired border in Carrera mini-brick complete the look.

The Purvises are pleased with the way the entire team brought their new home to life by creating what Covington deems “a fresh take on the traditional style.”