Cottage Mod in Boylan Heights

With the help of design consultant Jourdan Fairchild, a refurbished historic bungalow fuses eras for a cozy, comfortable style.
by Ayn-Monique Klahre | photographs by Anna Routh Barzin

In this historic Boylan Heights bungalow, the homeowners were starting from scratch.

Well, not exactly scratch: the young couple had good architecture to work with, a Pinterest board full of ideas, and a collection of hand-me-down furnishings that dated back to their college years. The key was to filter through it all, edit what they’d grown out of, and meld their taste with the existing space — all on a reasonable budget.

“I have always enjoyed interior design, and had some idea of what I wanted, but I was having a really hard time making decisions,” says the homeowner. “Every room was going to need an overhaul, and it felt overwhelming.”

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To help put her vision together, she enlisted Durham-based design consultant Jourdan Fairchild of Spruce Creative Studio. “The bones were great, but the finishes were off,” says Fairchild of their starting point. “It had great fireplaces and high ceilings — very charming, but not thoughtfully done.”

The 1,300-square-foot home was built in the early 1900s, so the homeowner wanted to respect its original character while making the rooms feel spacious and adding storage. Together, she and Fairchild tackled four rooms: the bedroom, kitchen, living room, and dining room (with another small bedroom still on the to-do list).

“We rarely host fancy dinners, but we do love having friends over for wine or beer around the table and playing games,” says the homeowner. (Instead of tableware, the Anthropologie console holds dozens of board games.) The daybed works as bench seating, but also as a place for friends to crash, thanks to a machine-washable cover. In the corner, a pedestal table showcases a yellow vase that’s actually a HomeGoods find. “I love the idea of creating an artistic statement with unexpected objects,” says Fairchild, “but they can easily move the
vase and use it as an extra cocktail table.”

Fairchild worked with the homeowner through a combination of mood board building, phone calls, and in-person consults. “When we put together my first mood board, she pulled an inspiration image from designer Emily Henderson, and it was a picture I’d already pinned on my own,” says the homeowner. “I was floored — it felt like this was meant to be.”

A former magazine editor, Fairchild has a knack for helping her clients create a narrative within their homes. It was exactly what the homeowner had in mind. “I like things that tell a story, an eclectic mix of old and new,” the homeowner says. “We wanted the design to reflect both our style and the style of the home. It’s such an old house, but we have a modern sensibility.”

For the bedroom, the directive was clear: make it perfect for slumber. “I was working night shifts at the time and having a hard time sleeping during the day,” the homeowner says, “so I wanted it to be dark and super comfortable.” They painted the walls and trim a deep blue, French Beret by Benjamin Moore, and layered on blackout shades and velvet drapes to block the sunlight. “When you shut the curtains and cozy up in bed, it’s so dark you’d never know it’s daylight — but we can also pull the windows up and get tons of natural light,” says the homeowner. The mirrors above the side table reflect light when the windows are open, and since the older home is short on closets, Fairchild incorporated a storage bed from West Elm and used small dressers as side tables for extra space to stash clothing and linens.

Budget was key, since this young couple wasn’t in a position to decorate top-to-bottom, all at once, or to spring for to-the-trade furnishings. “The reason I started this business was that I saw a need for people who can’t afford traditional interior designers to still be able to have homes that are both pretty and practical,” says Fairchild. “I think good design is for everyone.”

Together, they honed the vision, created a color palette — minty greens, terracotta reds, and sherbert oranges —and selected what to purchase, pulling together the look with a mix of new furnishings from affordable retailers, vintage finds, and a few of their original pieces. “I helped her create a guidebook for how she wanted their home to look so she and her husband could bring it to life as time and budget allowed,” Fairchild says. Starting with the bedroom, she and the homeowner worked room by room to update paint colors and add furniture, art, and other details over the course of about six months.

The result is a home that’s cozy and comfortable, with furnishings that meld eras and patinas to give the new decor a sense of history.

“Jourdan was really, really fantastic to work with,” says the homeowner. “She helped us tell a story about the character of the home with the pieces she brought in. We think the world of her.” 

“This is a place that’s going to be lived in,” says the homeowner. Fairchild helped the homeowners edit down their decor collection, moving along college-era items like picture frames and candles, but keeping those that still spoke to them, like a wire sculpture the homeowner had made (which sits atop books on the media center). And not all the new pieces were new: Items like the North Carolina-made pots on the mantel and sculpture of the farmer on the hearth were vintage finds, a way to give the room patina while still having a more grown-up feel.
“We really started with the paint,” says Fairchild. “The trim color, Benjamin Moore Heather Gray, has a historic feel, but it’s also a little unexpected to keep the walls ivory and use the darker color along the trim and molding.” Throughout the home, Fairchild incorporated vintage and antique pieces to bridge the decades between when the house was built and the current era. She tapped local vintage collectors Janet Mazorie and Ashley Whiteside to source the art hanging in the kitchen (an antique Italian school painting) and above the mantle (a vintage piece from the ’70s). Whiteside, an artist, even collaborated with the homeowner to paint a custom abstract piece for the dining room.
“We cook a lot, but we don’t entertain big crowds,” says the homeowner; they wanted the kitchen to be an easy spot for the cook to be part of the conversation. They mostly made small changes to the kitchen, like swapping in new hardware and lighting, but the biggest design punch came from mounting shelves from Semihandmade onto the wall adjoining the peninsula. “It used to be a fireplace, but it looked out of place,” says the homeowner. “The shelves give it a sense of purpose.” Fairchild chose the walnut finish to warm up the room and repeat the natural tones in the woven stools and hardwood flooring, and the shelves turned into a focal point with a mix of the homeowner’s kitchenware and art, including a piece by Canadian artist Yumi Phillips. Airy pendant lighting from Cedar
& Moss makes the small kitchen feel bigger.  
Fairchild painted a cabinet they already had the same color as the walls. “It gives you the visual dimension of a built-in, without the expense,” says Fairchild. The cabinet functions as a bar and storage area for books, knickknacks, and, recently, office supplies. The William Morris collection wallpaper on the ceiling was Fairchild’s idea. “She was thinking about having wallpaper somewhere in the house, and this got us the ‘bang for your buck’ effect,” says Fairchild. “That was all Jourdan,” says the homeowner. “When she mentioned it, I was like, yes, that’s awesome!