Funky Cotton Mill Condo is Built with Character

Written by Ayn-Monique Klahre | Photographs by Catherine Nguyen

At first glance, you might think you have Tucker Idol figured out: he’s a young guy who works as an attorney and lives downtown to shorten his commute to the firm on Fayetteville Street. But take a look at his apartment, and you’ll see another side: The cool industrial loft is filled with furniture and art he’s made himself, plus thoughtful DIY design details that give the space a unique and decidedly creative feel.

Idol lives in The Cotton Mill, a textile processing mill turned condo building across the tracks, literally, from Seaboard Station. The building was converted for residential living in the 1990s, and maintains many original architectural details, including 125-year-old wooden beams, 12-foot-tall windows, and exposed brick walls. These days, the 50-unit building is an established downtown condo with a quirky group of residents and an HOA that, according to Idol, throws a great building-wide party. The Raleigh native returned to his hometown after a five-year stint in Los Angeles for law school and work, and the appeal of being able to walk to work, restaurants, nightlife, and the gym was undeniable. “The location is equidistant from downtown and Glenwood South, with new development along Peace Street improving the sidewalks and crosswalks to both locations,” says Idol. Under the guidance of his father, Scott Idol, a commercial architect at HagerSmith Design who advocates for simplicity in design, Idol tweaked the space to make it work for himself and his rescue dog, Reggie.

“I’m drawn to a mixture of industrial, modern, and mid-century styles,” says Idol, who likes to use unexpected materials and color schemes to create a warmer, modern look. To get it just right, he often makes his own furniture and artwork. These skills came through a mix of natural talent, YouTube, and practicality.

“All day I sit behind the computer, so I needed to do something with my hands,” says Idol. “Plus, it’s eye-popping how much modern furniture can cost.” After doing some calculations, Idol realized that it would be cheaper to buy all the materials and tools to make the furniture himself – even if he screwed up the first version so badly he had to throw it away and start over. So Idol started making trips to the hardware store, learned his way around a welder, and got to work making this space completely his own. The result: a funky character-rich space with vintage charm and everyday comfort.