A family friend helps newlyweds create a home of their own when they move to Raleigh from New York City
by Jesma Reynolds | photography by Catherine Nguyen
When newlyweds Etta Buckman and Robert Long planned to move to North Carolina from New York City, they knew who to call: Beth and Chris Collier of design firm vanCollier, whose children Buckman babysat as a teen. She remembered their home as “interesting, artistic and timeless” and hoped that one day, when she had a home of her own, Collier would decorate it.
After touring twelve houses in one day, they settled on a 1992 transitional house at the end of a lane in midtown, a quiet setting thet reminded Buckman of her small-town childhood riding bikes and visiting with neighbors. Dated interiors and a hodgepodge floor plan didn’t deter them; they saw potential for a open layout similar to the one-floor living they were accustomed to in Manhattan. Beth Collier encouraged them: “The house had good bones.”
For the next year, the Colliers worked closely with Williams Realty & Building Company Inc. They gutted the inside, relocated walls and added a veranda to connect the outside in. Throughout, the Colliers chose surfaces that lend a modern feel without being severe. The designers also created custom furnishings for the home: linear sofas, cowhide club chairs, tables of sandy stone and hammered steel. Some pieces have made their way into vanCollier’s permanent line, including the “Lily” mirror in the foyer—oversize, concave, dipped in gold leaf—named for the couple’s Pomeranian.
The Collier’s goal was for Buckman and Long to make the house their own. “They’re young. They have a passion for travel and we encourage them to find treasures along the way.” A graduate of culinary school, Buckman revels in hosting dinners and happily notes that with friends within walking distance they have a steady flow of visitors—and the open graciousness of the home invites them in. And so it seems, a youthful dream of making a home of one’s own has been realized.