the mo­tifs of the colo­nial re­vival

Tra­di­tional Amer­i­can con­ven­tions and mo­tifs have never looked bet­ter than in this beau­ti­fully in­ter­preted home by the renowned ar­chi­tect, in North Carolina.

Old House Journal - - Inspire - BY PA­TRI­CIA POORE | PHO­TOS BY GRIDLEY + GRAVES

Houses and rooms or­dered sym­me­try, andof thea sweet re­vival sim­plic­ity:have an Wing chairs sit by the hearth. An­tiques are relics of a shared past. Colo­nial Re­vival con­ven­tions of the 20th century in­ter­pret the good old days as we wish they had been. This house in North Carolina shows how com­fort­ing the style can be. It was built in 1949 by evan­ge­list Dr. Jim­mie John­son, a per­sonal friend of the Rev­erend Billy Gra­ham. Ini­tially a straight­for­ward, gableend “gar­ri­son Colo­nial” with a jetty on the fa•ade, it’s a solid post­war ex­am­ple. The de­signer was Bos­ton ar­chi­tect Royal Barry Wills (1895-1962), the renowned pro­po­nent of adapt­ing tra­di­tional New Eng­land house de­signs, es­pe­cially Capes (but also gar­risons, salt­boxes, and church build­ings).

“My ap­proach, both here and in my clients’ homes, is to cre­ate warmth us­ing Amer­i­can Colo­nial mo­tifs with func­tional fur­ni­ture,” says the owner of this house.

Wills’s nos­tal­gic houses nev­er­the­less were mod­ern, built from the start to in­clude elec­tric kitchens, duct­work, clos­ets, and mid-century bath­rooms. This one has been lov­ingly up­dated and dec­o­rated in fine tra­di­tion. “My ap­proach, both here and in my clients’ homes, is to cre­ate warmth us­ing Amer­i­can Colo­nial mo­tifs with func­tional fur­ni­ture,” says Lu­cille Vun­can­non, the homeowner and dec­o­ra­tor. “For fur­nish­ings, I mix New Eng­land an­tiques, painted South­ern fur­ni­ture, and the Baroque. I also have a pas­sion for fab­rics,” Lu­cille adds—“toile, em­broi­dery, doc­u­men­tary prints, fla­mestitch, ta­pes­try, damask, checks and plaids, and fringe.” The re­sult is lay­ered rooms, old-fash­ioned but not fussy, of­fer­ing fa­mil­iar­ity and com­fort.

The house was in good con­di­tion when the Vun­can­non fam­ily bought it in 1987. They were de­ter­mined to keep it authen­tic, and in fact even up­graded a few de­tails in pe­riod style. Lu­cille is an interior de­signer, and Wade Vun­can­non is a build­ing con­trac­tor spe­cial­iz­ing in pe­riod-ap­pro­pri­ate ren­o­va­tions; it was their son Randy, a res­i­den­tial de­signer, who drew plans for the ad­di­tions. The house needed the usual sys­tem up­dates: cen­tral HVAC, plumb­ing, and wir­ing. Dorm­ers ex­panded liv­ing space on the third floor, and the house was reroofed in cedar shakes.

The big­gest project was re­mov­ing the roof on the back of the house, raising it to a two-storey gam­brel that ac­com­mo­dates a mas­ter bath with clos­ets and laun­dry above, and adding eight feet to the fam­ily room (where a sal­vaged 1830 mantel was in­stalled at the new fire­place). The cou­ple had sal­vaged ma­te­ri­als be­fore, in a pre­vi­ous project us­ing heart-pine floor­ing, wain-

scot­ing, doors, and a stair­case from two dis­man­tled ca. 1820–30 houses, as well as stone from the chim­ney of an old sum­mer kitchen. Orig­i­nal heart-pine floors re­main in this house, re­leased now from the car­pet­ing and linoleum that had cov­ered them. The floor­ing was matched in ad­di­tions.

Two of the finer el­e­ments are ac­tu­ally up­grades. The front door, once very plain, has been re­placed with a cus­tom cross­bat­tened door fea­tur­ing arched lights (win­dows). In an­other deft re­design, a book­case with ad­justable shelves was re­placed by a round-top niche cabi­net in the liv­ing room, com­plete with bold mould­ings and a wood “key­stone.”

The re­designed kitchen is clas­sic with raised-panel wood­work and an iron cook­top set into an ap­par­ent work­table in a hearth­like al­cove. The break­fast room and but­ler’s pantry were added dur­ing ren­o­va­tion. The finely fin­ished pantry is the ul­ti­mate Colo­nial Re­vival type, with white enamel-painted dis­play and stor­age cab­i­nets fea­tur­ing Shaker knobs. Em­blem­atic mo­tifs in the break­fast room in­clude arch-top cab­i­nets, an iron chan­de­lier, painted coun­try Wind­sors, and a checker­board floor­cloth. Col­or­ful printed valances with ball fringe hang over the taped Vene­tian blinds.

The sun par­lor or sun­porch was a fa­vorite in many early

20th-century homes, es­pe­cially for Colo­nial and Dutch Colo­nial types. The sun­room in this house was added at the same time as the but­ler’s pantry. Lu­cille de­signed the quin­tes­sen­tial re­vival win­dow treat­ments fea­tur­ing a scal­loped, struc­tured pel­met (valance) and side pan­els in a flo­ral print. The painted cor­ner cabi­net here is an an­tique Penn­syl­va­nia piece. With its sal­vaged 1830 Fed­eral fire­place mantel dis­play­ing a col­lec­tion of pewter, the ex­panded fam­ily room is more nos­tal­gi­cally “Colo­nial.” Fed­eral wood­work was de­signed to match the mantel. Wind­sors and ban­is­ter-back chairs sur­round a cen­ter ta­ble. Sym­met­ri­cal ar­range­ments give a wel­come sense of or­der through­out the interior, where rooms boast a tall-case clock, Queen Anne mir­rors, a piecrust ta­ble, ven­er­a­ble cup­boards and dis­play cab­i­nets, and re­uphol­stered wing chairs. “I’m also an an­tiques dealer,” Lu­cille says, “so we were able to fur­nish al­most com­pletely with an­tiques. The beds, how­ever, are re­pro­duc­tions of the pe­riod. We be­lieve in com­fort, first!”

OP­PO­SITE A Queen Anne mir­ror hangs over the Hep­ple­white-style side­board. Note the sym­met­ri­cal ar­range­ment of ce­ram­ics. Windsor chairs are re­pro­duc­tion. LEFT The orig­i­nal stair­case has a Fed­eral-era design. These own­ers re­placed the plain front door with this more authen­tic ver­sion.

ABOVE The se­cond-floor over­hang makes it a Gar­ri­son Colo­nial. The cur­rent own­ers added the dorm­ers to ex­tend third-floor space.

BE­LOW Ad­di­tions fol­low orig­i­nal roof pitch and pro­por­tions.

In the liv­ing room, Ge­or­gian-style wain­scot and pan­el­ing on the fire­place wall are orig­i­nal; wood­work was painted in a his­tor­i­cal color over the pre­vi­ous stain.

OP­PO­SITE In the kitchen, the cook­top is set into a hearth-like al­cove. The white-enam­eled but­ler’s pantry is in the ad­di­tion. These rooms were re­designed by the own­ers. LEFT The sunny break­fast room, part of the ad­di­tion, fea­tures a floor­cloth be­neath painted coun­try chairs and a scrub-top hutch ta­ble. BE­LOW With its brick floor, the keep­ing room was part of an orig­i­nal back porch. Yel­low-ware and French tole is dis­played on the blue-painted Euro­pean cupboard with racks.

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