A Southern Living Space with Global Appeal
Lauren and Justin Agans were at a fork in the road. The young couple had lived in their circa-1945 Plaza Midwood neighborhood home in Charlotte, North Carolina for about two and a half years when they decided they either needed to make the move to nearby Asheville or renovate. Dated, cherry-red Formica kitchen counters and floor-to-ceiling wood paneling throughout the home required a complete makeover, while the home’s choppy floor plan desperately needed breathing room. “You walked into this long room that went to nowhere,” says Lauren. “Our kitchen was in the front of the house right by our son’s nursery. After having kids, we realized how inconvenient it was to have our living spaces so close to the bedrooms.” But when the couple laid out the pros and the cons of moving or staying put, the Aganses made the decision to stay. “We couldn’t leave this house and not see it all the way through to its potential,” says Lauren.
The original family room featured dark wood paneling, so designers Lentini and Minkhorst brightened the space by painting it white and adding a touch of warmth with faux-wood ceiling beams.
The original fireplace was painted white and layered with a new wood mantel to soften the modern lines and finishes of the space.
A leather chair with wood frame provides an earthy element to the library corner.
The homeowners enlisted Randy Podosek of Podosek Construction to tackle the renovation, which included an overhaul of the downstairs, gutting the kitchen, and adding square footage to the home. The renovation resulted in an open living space downstairs that allowed for more natural sunlight to flood the space but also seamless entertaining with the family room flowing into the kitchen and dining areas.
House of Nomad designers Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini were brought on board to bring the interiors to life. “I knew what I liked but I just couldn’t pull it all together myself,” says Lauren. The designers were enamored with the bones and architectural details of the home and knew that it would shine with the right design scheme. “Here we had this really young, cool family and we were really trying to merge these two ideas of an updated, eclectic modern look but still maintain the history of the home,” says Minkhorst.
The designers pulled together their signature global, modern aesthetic, which—to Lauren’s surprise—was exactly what she had in mind. Minkhorst and Lentini started with functional, durable pieces for the young family like the navy sectional. Then they added in signature pieces from their trips abroad such as framed textiles from Mali and baskets from Zimbabwe in the family room. “As a rule of thumb, if we can incorporate something vintage like a rug, a piece of furniture, it just adds some depth,” explains Lentini.
But it’s not just the collected pieces from abroad that complete their designs. The duo adds warmth to spaces with an array of wood. Here, the wood beams are stained the same as the wood floors to envelope the space, and the dining room table features a mango wood top in a zebra pattern. “We’re always asking ourselves, ‘How do we take these wood elements and bring them to life and update them?’” says Minkhorst. The solution: juxtaposing those organic pieces with more modern and oftentimes playful additions such as the hanging chair, which keeps the family room feeling open and airy. The addition of the front window seat took advantage of once unused space and became whimsical and comfortable with a dotted patterned cushion.
Though the Aganses were unsure what they wanted the interior of their newly renovated home to look like, they trusted that the House of Nomad designers would tease it out of them. “Everything about the home is so me,” says Lauren. “It’s amazing you can hire designers and they know you better than you know yourself!”
House of Nomad designer Kelley Lentini offers her top tips on how to add interest to a room without overdoing it with color.
Incorporate found pieces. “To create interest without bold colors, we turn to different textures to bring a space alive!” says Lentini. “Think Indonesian beaded offering boxes and bowls, Tonga baskets, and rattan furniture.”
Frame textiles. “There are so many beautiful textiles out there woven with neutral colors that add texture to the wall,” says Lentini, who added framed textiles to this featured project.
Bring in the green. “Another tip, especially [for] those ‘empty’ corners,” says Lentini, “is to add indoor-loving banana palms, olive branches, and, of course, the fiddle leaf fig.”
Add wallpaper. “We are loving some of the new, textured wallpapers that look like a plaster wash or concrete or, of course, a nice textured grass cloth,” she says.