Timeless & Tasteful: Antiques and Coastal Accents on a Palette of Neutrals

Interior designer Carole Hollowell’s home on Anderson Drive draws inspiration from her hometown of Edenton
by Ayn-Monique Klahre | photography by Catherine Nguyen

“I do love color, just not inside my house,” laughs interior designer Carole Hollowell. But that’s not entirely true: in Hollowell’s home, black is not a true black — it’s a very deep green, or a warm charcoal that glows bronze in candlelight. There’s no plain white or gray, either, but tones from bone and ivory to mushroom and taupe. It’s all set off with glints of silver, brass, and bronze, the occasional potted plant or flower arrangement bringing in a hint of green.

At work, Hollowell fills her clients’ spaces with pattern and color — she’s particularly known for her designs at sorority houses, where her younger clientele prefer a more energetic design. But when she comes home, it’s about a toned-down palette and antique furnishings that are both elegant and comfortable. Classic and simple, luxurious but understated. “I like it fresh, but with a few old things thrown in,” says Hollowell.

Hollowell moved into this home on Anderson Drive in 2012, after relocating from Chapel Hill. The previous owners had created a historic feel inside the 1970s home through thoughtfully sourced architectural materials reclaimed from older homes, including interior doors, fireplace mantels, exterior columns, and the wide-plank pine floors throughout, which came from an old church and a farm in Virginia. Hollowell liked how its scale and character lent it a lowcountry style. “It’s a smaller home, but it lives really large,” she says, “and it reminded me of the home I grew up in.”

When Hollowell and her family moved in — she lives with her husband, their two now college-age daughters, a cat, and a dog — they gutted the kitchen and bathrooms, but kept much of its character. The Hollowells also opened up some of the smaller rooms on the first floor to create a great room that incorporated the kitchen and living area, and added to the back and side of the house to accommodate a sunroom and owner’s suite. “It was a chopped-up little house, and we opened it up a lot,” says Hollowell.

Hollowell is originally from Edenton, and those historic inlet town roots shine through in the interior of her home, which blends gracious antique furnishings and seaside-inspired accents. She’s fond of French and British colonial styles, particularly as seen in the older homes in New Orleans and Charleston. “These are two of my favorite places to go in the South because of the history, beautiful architecture, gardens, and sense of hospitality,” she says.

Between the subtle colors, coastal accents, and historical elements, the home has an elegant sense of patina — all the comforts of modern living, anchored by the tried and true.  

The exterior of Hollowell’s home, with its Tiffany blue door.
The sideboard in the dining room was a family piece, and the coral is an homage to her coastal roots. “I love to have little nods to the beach around, and I like how these colors pop against the dark walls and wood,” says Hollowell.
Inspired by a New Orleans designer, Hollowell was on the hunt for her own antique Savonarola chairs for years and finally found a pair through Raleigh antiques dealer Robert Corprew. “I just love the lines of them, they’re so dramatic,” she says.
Hollowell had the antique French chairs at the dining table upholstered in linen and embroidered with her monogram.
The living room is open to the kitchen, and despite the dressed-up feel, it’s a casual space. “It’s our main living space; we watch TV in here, we read books,” Hollowell says. She decorated the space with a mix of French and British antiques, and almost entirely in neutral shades. “I like to play with texture, and to work with the juxtaposition of light and dark,” she says, nodding to her habit of painting interior doors black. The Louis Philippe mirror is flanked by two reclaimed wall brackets. “I loved the scale of them, and how they add an architectural element,” she says.
The console and coffee table display some of her favorite items to collect, like antique boxes, books, and treasures from the sea.
The sunroom looks onto the back yard, with the open-back settee letting in the whole view.
The kitchen is open to the living area, as is the sunroom, which was part of a first-floor addition the Hollowells did when they moved in. Before, the space was “tiny,” she says, and closed off to the other rooms. She worked with her cabinet maker to maximize storage in the space, including running the cabinets to the ceiling and adding lots of drawer storage below. The bar area, which runs between the kitchen and dining room, is painted a pewter gray to add some dimension to the black-and-white scheme, and the leathered black countertop contrasts with the white cabinets and tile.
Hollowell’s bedroom and bathroom were part of a first-floor addition to the home. The embroidered linen curtains were Hollowell’s jumping-off point for the scheme, which melds shades of gray and white. “The walls are a very light blue-gray, it feels so restful, and I love a white bed,” she says. The small painting on the night stand is by Alexis Walter of New Orleans.
When they renovated the bathrooms, Hollowell designed generous cabinets to make sure everything could be put away. “I hate a cluttered countertop!” she says. Marble tiles run from the floor up the wall, and a painting of peonies hangs above the freestanding tub. “With that piece, I feel like I always have flowers in my bathroom,” she says. “I love peonies.”

This story originally appeared in our September 2021 issue.