the refresh: a home makeover with kara cox
Published Sep 16, 2016 9:00 AM
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photography by STACEY VAN BERKEL text by CAROLINE BIGGS styling by SUSAN JOHNSON SMITH
After masterminding some pretty major renovations, Kara Cox turns a dated space into a contemporary family home where she can work and play.
A neutral backdrop allows layered fabrics to liven up the master bedroom (left), while updated classics—like this vintage chaise longue reupholstered in a playful print—stay true to the home’s original time period.
A bold Ballard daybed and cheerfulgallery wall
WHEN INTERIOR DESIGNER KARA COX AND HER HUSBAND,
Stephen, closed on their Greensboro, North Carolina, home last September, they knew they had their work cut out for them. Despite already undergoing several rounds of renovations, the mid-century split-level—originally built in 1954—was still covered in outdated furnishings (think: bulky wall casings, wrought-iron railings, and lots of terra-cotta.) “The interior didn’t match the architecture of the house,” Cox explains. “We decided we needed to take it back to its streamlined roots, but still update it with contemporary details.” This included knocking down walls, arching out doorways, painting everything white, and putting in pale oak floors to lighten up the space. Next, to modernize, they added oversize windows, California corners, kitchen appliances (from Electrolux), and brand-new bathrooms. After months of renovations—three of which they lived in the house—the four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home was officially complete. “I have a new appreciation for my clients now that I’ve lived on a construction site,” Cox jokingly adds.
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“I want my children to grow up surrounded by beauty,” Cox says of her home’s colorful study. “If they’re inspired by the space, maybe they’ll actually want to do their homework!” Her own office plays with pattern.
An antique Oushak rug brings a pop of personality to an all-white 2 kitchen while cleverly concealing cooking spills. Another clever addition: the spacious island that doubles as a storage cabinet and breakfast bar. The mix of metal finishes—including this gilded 3 ventilation hood—is an easy way to warm up a pale backsplash.
KARA COX’S 5 RENO REQUISITES
- Natural fit. “Use organic textures in your bathroom (like cork or wood finishes) to keep it from feeling cold and sterile.”
- Mood lighting. “Unique light fixtures are like sculptures—they can add a whole new level of elegance to a room.”
- High style. “Never underestimate the power of a good statement ceiling; it’s the perfect place to showcase pattern and color.”
- Heavy metals. “Hardware and plumbing fixtures don’t have to match— they can be a great way to bring warm and cool tones together.”
- Clean and simple. “White kitchens never go out of style, but you you can install a bright backsplash or colored island to vamp things up.”
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A metallic cork by York Wallcoverings adorns the walls, creating a calming texture in a modern bathroom.
Floral throw pillows look like small works of art against muted armchairs.
A Technicolor scheme in the family room pairs a vibrant Wesley Hall sectional with a custom colored ceiling fan by Haiku Home.
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JUST BECAUSE THE PLACE
looks more laid-back now doesn’t mean Cox—mother to Avery, 10, and Davis, 6—is at home relaxing. In fact, the main reason she was drawn to the older house in the first place was because of a lower-level entrance that would allow her to carve out a separate office space. Having launched her own design firm in 2010, Cox had tired of late-night runs all across town, especially while trying to care for her growing family. Now, with an actual in-home workspace, Cox can slip away at a moment’s notice, this time without ever having to leave the house. “The home itself is kind of a creative lab for me,” she says. “Not only have I professionally grown from its transformation, I’ve learned how to manage the art of being a working mom.”
“Don’t rush the process. A great project takes time.”
Bright wallpaper and white mosaic Crossvile Tile make a spirited statement in the kids’ bathroom.
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