A Small Home With Flair

A Place To Live, Laugh And Love

“STORY BY: KATHLEEN MCGOWAN

PHOTOS BY: GRAY WELLS

It is cliché to say we’d like our guest to feel comfortable when visiting our home but that really is our goal. The house has stood for 115 years … there isn’t much harm you can do to it.” – Robert Carroll

From the curb, the Carroll’s home appears to be a modest yet quaint home but take a couple steps through the tidy little yard to the front porch and visitors are greeted with a combination of retro and classic items, adding character to the space. A rustic white porch swing provides extra seating for this spacious wrapped covered porch as well as furnishing the perfect spot to stretch out for long afternoon nap after a day at the beach. Better yet, take a seat, kick back and relax in one of the several Art Deco inspired stamped steel chairs or glider. These are just like your Moms, only better. Straight out of the Post-War Atomic Era, the steel chairs offer a vintage look and feel with detailed cutouts…The fact that they offer a slight rocking motion is a bonus. This porch is perfect for entertaining. Clear your calendar, grab a sweet tea, sit for a spell and enjoy the view… It’s just the beginning of a lovely, timeless journey through Robert and Michelle’s 115-year-old Southport home.

Robert and Michelle Carroll have been married for six years. They were introduced to each other by a mutual friend and started dating during Michelle’s senior year of high school. Robert moved from Southern Virginia to Southport in 2007, after holidaying here with his family almost his entire life. He had decided to call Southport home and was just beginning his success- ful real estate career. Robert recalls with a smile…I remember Michelle’s reaction when I told her… “Where in the world is that?” Michelle visited Southport and she fell in love with the area without hesitation. The decision is one the couple has never regretted. Fast forward to 2008 and the couple was engaged and they were married one year later, in 2009.

The young couple purchased their first house just on the edge of town but always knew they wanted to live in the historic district. When 307 E. Nash came on the market they had been planning construction for almost 12 months of a house on a lot they had purchased here in town. Michelle came across an advertisement for 307 E. Nash and knew they had to see it. She and Robert saw it one time and afterwards she said to Robert…“Figure it out!” They loved the location, the size of the lot and the character that they knew could never be recreated with new construction.

With my first steps inside the Carroll’s home, the mix of the modern, the contemporary and the ease of the simply inviting space charm me. The décor, furnishings and white, gray and yellow color palette are simply eclectic, the spaces are wide open and the result creates a vision of control yet having control never looked so good. The home may be small in scale but it is a modern mini marvel.

The couple is happy to say that the home at 307 E. Nash felt like theirs from the very first time they saw it. Bringing in their own eclectic furnishings and décor made it even more their own. The character lines of old wooden floors, walls and ceilings and the wavy glass panes are perfectly paired with eclectic, found and mod- ern elements to create uncharacteristic results. The mood is timeless yet at home in the moment.

“We loved the house from the start. It’s historic charm, large lot and proximity to downtown Southport were everything we wanted. What we didn’t expect was how we’d learn to love it even more.

Many nights we grab a bottle of wine and walk to dinner. Some mornings we wake to the sound of foghorns from boats on the Cape Fear. We can set our clocks by the church bells. And we never have to worry about parking for the Fourth of July festivities.” – Robert Carroll

An old rustic, brick fireplace separates the living area from the kitchen yet, allows for flow and communication between both spaces. This is key since the couple loves to entertain and the house is perfect for intimate gatherings of 2-3 couples or more. Being able to host events with as many as 24 people is not an issue with the ease of movement throughout the home and the kitchen functionality. Both Robert and Michelle cook and love trying new and different cooking methods so, the kitchen’s sleek, professional furnishings were chosen carefully to blend with the overall character of the home.

The Carroll’s want guests to not only visit but, to enjoy their home as well. Don’t be afraid to kick off your shoes and curl up in a studded occasion- al chair or take a seat at the kitchen counter where you’re able to chat with the cook as well as guests gathering in the nearby living and dining areas. The interior space is inviting, much like the small town of Southport, and it em- anates small town life. When I asked Robert how he wanted guests to feel in his home, his answer was simple… “It is cliché to say we’d like our guest to feel comfortable when visiting our home but that really is our goal. The house has stood for 115 years… there isn’t much harm you can do to it.”

The dining room is spacious with plenty of light and a charming built-in china cabinet in one corner. It is open to the kitchen/living area but can function as a more private dining space as well with sliding “barn doors” on either side of the dinning room entry. They were originally French doors separating two rooms in the house which Matt Watson, who completed the restoration, worked hard to keep along with many of the homes other historic features while adding modern conveniences you’d find in newer homes.

Anyone that’s owned an older home, knows how easy it can be to forget the good things about your home, especially if you’re dealing with issues like running toilets or outdated wallpaper. But, at this point, there isn’t much that the couple wants to change. There are plans to renovate the pantry and laundry area to create more storage and to raise the ceiling height in the living room and kitchen to open the space up a bit but they would never change that the entire house has wood floors, walls and ceilings.

During restoration, the toughest deci- sion for the couple to make about their home was what to do with the windows. Replace or restore? Well, “Michelle dug her heels in and made certain I restored, rather than replaced. I am slowly restoring one window at a time. Sanding, priming, painting, and replacing the old wavy glass with a reproduction glass I found out of  New Jersey.” They wanted to keep the charm of a historic home with the wavy glass panes that are usually original so, the new glass is made in the very same style as the original glass so, it still has the wavy look and includes a few bubbles here and there. This truly is a home re-thought.

The office, master bed and both baths are full of charm. Each has its own elements of today and yesterday, texture and tone, form and function. There’s more sliding barn doors, a wide enameled cast iron double sink, a private shower space with stone features and plenty of old features meeting new and found furnishings. But, my favorite room is the nursery. The overall wish for the nursery was that it be a peaceful environment for the couple’s new baby to learn and grow. They chose not to know the sex of their child until birth, which meant a more neutral palette. They had the walls, trim and ceiling painted the same color and sheen of white and layered different shades and textures of grey throughout the room. The space is enchanting and became the new home for Reighan Elisabeth who was born on January 8, 2016.

Robert and Michelle would like to think that their children would someday describe the home they grew up in “as a simple home that was filled with love. They’ll likely reminisce about the sound rain made as it poured down onto the metal roof, the way the floors in the hallway slant to one corner or how the house never seemed to be “finished” as with older homes there is always something to be done.”

As for Valentine’s Day… The Carroll’s are self-proclaimed foodies. One of the things they love most about Southport and the surrounding area is the many wonderful places to eat. They are looking forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day this year at the newly renovated Mr. P’s Bistro.

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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine