3 Swoon-Worthy Chapel Hill Escapes

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Natalie Peacock-Corral leads daughters Isabella, 9, and Lucia, 7, through her parents James and Florence Peacock’s “enchanted” garden.

When UNC professor of anthropology James Peacock (now retired after 45 years) and his wife, Florence, an accomplished professional singer of the baroque classical variety, bought this downtown lot in 1990, “the property had become a wild jungle,” daughter Natalie Peacock-Corral says. But the couple knew the property had once been owned by the late William Coker, a UNC professor of botany and founder of the Coker Arboretum, and they sought to recreate his original landscape design, as well as build a home with the help of modernist architect Dail Dixon. By 1992, both projects were complete, and the family has reaped the benefits of the garden’s wonder – beautifully maintained now by landscaper Jim Flanagan – ever since. And although daughter Natalie, son-in-law Emiliano Corral and grandchildren Isabella Florence Corral, 9, and Lucia Beatriz Corral, 7, live in Durham now, they visit the ethereal green space and the grandparents often. “The old trees that surround the property date back hundreds of years and give a sense of being in an enchanted forest,” says Natalie of one of her favorite features. “Lucia is certain that magical fairies live in the lush greenery, coming out at night as the sun sets,” she adds.

Over the years, the home has been the backdrop to many social events, receptions and weddings (including Natalie’s own in 2005) and too many egg hunts, birthday parties and playdates to count for Lucia and Isabella. “It is secluded and private, yet UNC and downtown Chapel Hill are a short walk away,” Natalie says.


“It’s our weekday house and our weekend house rolled into one!” says Lisa Carey of the Lake Forest home she shares with husband Matt Ewend and kids Nash Carey-Ewend, 21, Kelly Carey-Ewend, 19, and Abby Carey-Ewend, 18. “The light is incredible. In the morning, we get pink sunrises and the willow shines. At sunset, the light on the other side of the lake makes the trees glow. At night, the house lights make perfect reflections in the lake.”

Family friend Kelly Allen.

When Lisa and Matt purchased the 1960s cottage in 2007, it was the property and lake that sold them. Since then, they have remodeled the home – with the help of architect Sophie Piesse, contractor Jay Hughes and designer Sandra Elliott – to be modern and open. And, as far as landscaping work goes, “We just leveraged Mother Nature,” says Lisa. The end result is peaceful and also light- and life-filled.

Daughter Abby Carey-Ewend.

To take in the spectacular view, Matt and Lisa have a lakefront patio with a fire pit that is often enjoyed on chilly evenings snuggled in the extra fleeces the family keeps on hand. The back patio, too, is a space of comfort, as the family can be found eating out there as often as possible by candlelight. “[The lake is] our party space, front porch and calm source,” Lisa says.


We have always loved being outdoors and try to spend as much time as possible outside,” says Beth Galloway of her husband, Tommy, and kids Reilly, 12, and Griffin, 9. “We also love the mountains,” she adds. When the family decided to add an open-air porch to their Old Forest Creek home, they chose to include lofted ceilings and a fireplace, “to bring a little bit of the mountain feel to Chapel Hill,” Beth says. The family can often be found relaxing from the daily grind – Tommy is the senior vice president at The Link Group in Durham, Beth owns Chapel Hill Pediatric Therapy Inc., and the kids are hard at work at Phillips Middle and Estes Hills Elementary – in their breezy “mountain” escape, enjoying tunes provided by their integrated music system.

Photography by Briana Brough

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Laura Zolman Kirk

Associate Editor Laura Zolman Kirk is a Kentuckian turned Chapel Hillian and totally in love with this special slice of North Carolina.
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