Designer’s Digs

By: Marimar McNaughton | Photography by Mark Lohman* | Styled by Sunday Hendrickson

From corporate banking to interior design, a career-driven wife and mother of three minted her personal style inside a renovated two-story 1942 Colonial Revival. Her personal design style — an eclectic Southern hybrid — blends her traditional family values with trending now accessories. In Glen Arden, on the outskirts of Forest Hills, Liz Carroll created a kid-friendly, forever home for her hubs and their brood.

In 2005, two weeks after their island wedding, Robby Carroll carried his newlywed wife Liz across the threshold of the 1942 Colonial white brick house that would become their forever home.

“We love the neighborhood and the charm of the old house,” says homeowner and interior designer, Liz Carroll. “Basically, it’s the house you would draw when you are in the first grade. You’ve got the rectangle front and the four windows and the triangle roof.”

As the Carroll family grew, it needed more room. In 2010, the couple contracted David and Kathy Spetrino of Plantation Building Corporation to renovate the three-bedroom, two-and-one-half bath home adding five feet across the rear elevation.

Inside the entry foyer, Liz Carroll says the Ikat-style textile came first, followed by the oversized ottoman cubes. Above the streamlined eggshell console she serendipitously hung an original abstract painting and upon closer look, discovered the image of an angel watching over  her family and friends. She calls the foyer a landing zone for her kids, ages  three to  nine , who are active in school, sports, and music lessons.

The foyer also sets the mood found throughout the family’s first floor living spaces— notably the formal dining room where curved wooden benches surround an oval table anchored by upholstered captain’s chairs. Liz chose a soft palette of blue and gold tones paired with pale blue-green grasscloth wallpaper as a backdrop for the first pieces of furniture she and her husband bought when they married.

Continuing the blend of old with new into the living room, the hardwood floor layered with a herringbone carpet, is typically peppered with toys and games. Covered by cowhide and anchored with a brown leather sofa, accent pieces include the bamboo-inspired coffee table and a Baker swan table that introduce some feminine curves. In this room,  a few house rules apply, such as, “No Kool-Aid on the carpet,” Carroll chose washable fabrics. 

“Our furniture, our fabrics and upholstery are made for real life,” she says. “There’s nothing that’s untouchable in our house, nothing that is precious . . . because I want everybody to feel comfortable.”

In the kitchen, the additional five feet allowed the construction of a central island. After school homework assignments are agonized over, while meals are prepped then shared. The Calcutta gold marble supplied by Southeastern Marble and Granite now shows the patina of aging gracefully in place, as the hub of family life, Carroll says.

Throughout the house, the extensive renovation allowed Carroll the latitude to soften some of the home’s inherent right angles. She added curved arches for dramatic effect, as seen in the niche built around the soak tub. With complementary tile supplied by South Eastern Tile Connection, the curved edge of window frames, opposite, is echoed in the lip of the tub marble. Papered with Cole & Son Orchid wallpaper, the tub is now the focal point of the expanded master suite.

Moving the laundry room upstairs was life changing, Carroll says. With the washer and dryer close to bedrooms and bathrooms, she no longer hikes up and down stairs with baskets of clothes, sheets and towels. The addition of a window, white grass cloth and subway tile drove the budget higher but, she adds, “I spend a lot of time in there, so it was important to me that there was a bright place I liked to be.”

When it came time to design a big girl room, Carroll engaged her daughter, Harris, in the decision-making process.

“The fabric was the jumping off point for her room. Quadrille Happy Garden fit with her personality,” Carroll says. Soft lavender walls paired with glossy pale green ceilings mirror the colors found in the upholstered headboard fabricated by John Lester, a Leland-based artisan who caters to the interior design trade.

“She helped me – I actually do this with all of my kids – pick out fabrics and things in their rooms,” says Carroll, who never set out to become and interior designer.

“My mom and both of my sisters are interior designers. When I was growing up, I said: I’m going to be like my dad. I’m going to business school.”

And now that she’s in business for herself, she’s thankful that she initially chose that career path. Of interior design she adds, “It came very naturally and organically because I’ve always done it with my mom and my sisters. When I started my company it seemed like a natural fit.”