There are many things on our wish lists for our
homes that we can find ourselves daydreaming about.
The just-chippy-enough vintage-inspired furniture. A well-stocked art collection. An open concept that lends itself to gatherings with friends. And then there’s that wonderful moment when you realize that you’ve achieved everything on that wish list.
Ally Whalen, owner and principal designer at Ally Whalen Design, played the fairy godmother in this very scenario, designing a home for homeowners who dared to dream. The Charlotte, North Carolina, home was originally built in 1983 and required plenty of renovation.
Ally details the process, saying, “We completely gutted and rearranged the kitchen and opened it up to main living room. We added new French doors to the back of the home, added a covered porch, restained the hardwood floors, added a ‘his’ closet in the master bedroom, painted throughout and brought in all new furnishings for pretty much every room in the home.”
MENU OF MUST-HAVES
The homeowners came to Ally with a wish list. “An open concept was a must-have so the home would be more conducive to entertaining,” she says. “The clients also wanted a cleaner aesthetic and color palette that was calming—no loud colors or busy patterns. They wanted the colors to come from natural elements, like plants, and the view outdoors.”
They got just that, with a home swathed in airiness, light, bright spaces and neutral, soothing colors in a medley of relaxed hues—grays, creams and warm-wood browns.
Ally classifies the abode as a “European cottage farmhouse,” communicating a simplistic
and uncluttered appearance that still “has a sense that it is a well-lived-in, comfortable home.”
With a storefront called Simplicity Interiors in Cornelius, North Carolina, Ally wove in many furniture pieces from her own line throughout the home. “Almost all the furniture is from my Simplicity Furniture line, which specializes in tailored, slipcovered sofas and chairs ... all made here in North Carolina.”
SWEET HOME CAROLINA
That local feel and sense of place was a top priority for the homeowners. It was important to them to utilize their backyard and embrace the views around them. “They have 4.5 acres of land, and it’s quite a beautiful and unique spot to have in Charlotte, so bringing the outdoors in was a must in the renovation,” says Ally. “Opening up the kitchen to the living room and adding French doors to the new porch was a way to achieve this.”
Although the home certainly has a storied, bygone mood, there are virtually no vintage pieces in the home. And for a practical reason: “The furniture and décor in the home before the renovation was a lot of hand-medowns, and the homeowners were ready for all new—but they still wanted the vintage feel for some of the
pieces.”This look was achieved through a variety of design features, including Mason jars and jugs placed throughout, weathered wood furnishings, worn-in fabrics, botanical prints and tobacco baskets.
The homeowner, an artist, inspired Ally to think even more outside the box and boost creativity in the spaces. Ally says: “Working with someone like that actually pushed my creativity to help them both achieve the exact aesthetic and design they were looking for.”
There are art pieces in the home that were created by the homeowner, showcased in locations like the fireplace mantle. “[This one] is by far one of my favorite pieces in the house. That’s why I chose to highlight it in the room by making it the focal point,” says Ally. Another piece close to the homeowner’s heart is a dreamy portrait of a girl swimming, created by an artist friend and hung in the library.
Ally deeply enjoyed crafting the visual appeal of this home, referring to the project as a “labor of love.” She explains, “It’s so close to the aesthetic I have in my own home. My favorite feature is the kitchen. What we were able to achieve by opening up the wall between the kitchen and the living space really brought my vision to life. It’s a clean, classic kitchen that will stand the test of time. I love it all.”
|ABOVE| BOOK NOOK. “We call this the library,” Ally says. Stocked with books to provide a contemplative place for reading, the gray couch hails from her Simplicity Furniture line, meshing perfectly with the grays of the nearby artwork. The curtains...
BREEZY KITCHEN. Punctuated by subway tile and other farmhouse elements, this kitchen spotlights cabinetry painted in Benjamin Moore’s “Chantilly Lace,” light fixtures from Ballard Designs and a Wolf range and Sub-Zero fridge in stainless steel.