A thoughtful renovation makes this Chapel Hill home sparkle
By Morgan Cartier Weston | Photography by John Michael Simpson
Annie Klapper and Jacob Klapper moved into their Meadowmont home in October 2016 and soon began planning to create more entertaining space for their family and friends. With three sons (Ash, 16, Taite, 13, and Rory, 8), two Bernedoodles (Uncle Jerry and Cousin Cliff) and plenty of family nearby (including Annie’s mom and Jacob’s dad), the Klappers wanted to configure the space to accommodate large gatherings.
“The house had two decks in the back, and we knew we wanted to take those over and bring them inside and give the front of the house an uplift,” Annie explains. “There was a large, Palladian window facing the backyard, and while it felt very grand, it also felt like an abrupt stop to the flow of the house, so we needed a creative solution there, too.”
The pandemic slowed their plans but gave the Klappers a new appreciation for their neighbors and neighborhood. “We love living in an area with so many people from so many different places,” Annie says. “It makes meeting people and making friends so easy.” This was especially true during the quarantine months of 2020. “We fell even more in love with [Meadowmont] during that time because everybody was out taking walks, sitting on their porches and driveways to gather from a distance, trying to make the best of a rough situation.”
The couple first met with designer Liz Scisco of True Design in early 2021. “We came to Liz with a lot of pictures of things we liked, and Jacob has always wanted a sunken living room, so we just sort of gave her those broad ideas,” Annie says. For example, Annie, a fan of British architecture and television shows, envisioned a sunroom with a lantern roof. “Liz’s expertise in design didn’t just bring our ideas to life – she made them even better than we expected.”
The first impacts of the renovation are perceptible from the street. The home’s facade, once a dated salmon brick, was transformed with a creamy, modern white paint and bronze-framed windows. The front porch columns were also moved to make the entry feel more open and welcoming.
Inside, the two unused decks in back were incorporated inside – one as a sunroom, and the other, a screened porch. “They are each sunken from the rest of the first floor by three steps, and there is a bi-fold door between the two that we can open and create more entertaining space,” Annie says. “The new sunroom gives them the opportunity to gather in what feels like a completely outdoor space,” Liz adds.
To further maximize the effect of the lantern roof, a custom window by Leo Gaev Metalworks was added to the adjacent breakfast nook wall. The result is a subtle separation from the sunroom without sacrificing light or visibility.
“I feel like the biggest surprise, now that the project is finished, is how much light we have added to the existing spaces,” Liz says. “It really feels like a different house.”
New furnishings, decor and wall treatments in the existing rooms helped the family reimagine how they use each room, too. “We redecorated the front room, which was originally the dining room, and made it into an adult study,” Annie says. “With the pandemic and three boys, it was important to have multiple study areas, so our original office became the kids’ study spot, and Jacob and I got our own space. We love relaxing there.”
“I feel like the most exciting part of this (and every) renovation is the homeowners’ enjoyment of the new space,” Liz says. “I know that Annie loves to host, and the new layout really creates a nice open feel that can expand as needed for different sizes of gatherings.”
Liz says the key to any successful renovation is finding a team that you trust and who listens to your wants and needs. “That applies to both the design team and the contractor,” Liz says. “Having confidence and trust in your project team will make the whole experience less stressful, and the end product will be beautiful and functional.” For the Klapper home, AJ Shirely’s team at Anthony & Company served as the contractor and builder, and Rob Perry of Walltech installed the showstopping wallcoverings.
“We feel lucky to have been able to do this with our home so we can welcome more people into it,” Annie says. When they’re not hosting a party, the Klapper family enjoys playing games, biking, traveling and taking walks with their dogs in Meadowmont.