This Custom-Built Home Feels Like It’s Part of the Forest

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The Patel family stands on the roof of their custom-built home in Chapel Hill
Custom-built home – A woman sits in a chair reading
The master bedroom features a small reading nook with ample light. Deepti or Yogin can often be found curled up here with a book.

By Morgan Cartier Weston | Photography by Beth Mann

“They are prodigious creators of all of the things,” Dr. Deepti Patel says affectionately of daughters Naya, 8, Kavi, 6, and Sona, 1. She and husband Dr. Yogin Patel were living in Raleigh when they began the search for their ideal home: a modern, open space for their children to create, grow and dream.

They achieved that goal through a home custom built by Bold Construction on the edge of Battle Park, designed in partnership with modernist architect Phil Szostak. The Patels wanted the structure to seamlessly blend in with the landscape. “No sane person would have built on this lot, but then we came along,” Yogin laughs. He explains they were drawn to Bold Construction because of the company’s experience in dealing with hilly terrain.

Some of the creative features the lot afforded include a door that transforms the living area into an oasis through a drop-down screen. “It invites the sounds of the forest in while keeping bugs outside,” Deepti says. “We had a porch in Raleigh, but it didn’t have a screen – we knew that would be critical to our enjoyment of this space,” Yogin says.

Custom-built home – A living room with a drop-down screen
The home features a custom drop-down screen, which provides a transparent barrier between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

The home features an electric vehicle charger in the garage and solar panels on the roof installed by Southern Energy Management. In the summer, the energy generated fully offsets the total energy usage of the house. “We had never done this before, but we’re super happy with how the panels turned out,” Yogin says. The home also maximizes natural light thanks to thoughtfully placed windows and embraces the hillside lot with a basement suite that opens out to a pool.

“We originally wanted a single level to walk out to the pool, but we were trying to be eco-friendly and couldn’t justify the amount of concrete that would have taken,” Yogin explains. “We ended up with stairs and the basement suite, which is a great solution.”

Custom-built home – Children stand in front of a custom pool in Chapel Hill
Kavi, 6, Charles Sharp, 9, Mary-Evelyn Sharp, 6, William Sharp, 11, Naya, 8, and Campbell Prozchaka, 8.

Global Inspiration

Custom-built home – Three women toast around a kitchen island
Deepti and neighbors Elizabeth Sharp and Alana Prochazka often bring their families together for weekly dinners.

When Deepti and Yogin first met online, she was living in Augusta, Georgia, and he was in Portland, Oregon. “I gave him, like, a thousand cool points for living in Portland,” Deepti says. The couple wrote letters during their two years of long-distance dating. “Yogin drew me pictures, and I’ve saved them all,” Deepti says. “We fell in love before we ever met face-to-face.”

The couple eventually met up in Seattle and have since traveled the world together. A black-and-white wall hanging in the hallway on the main floor displays the cities they had visited by their five-year wedding anniversary, with Raleigh as the last stop. “I guess we’ll have to make a new one,” Deepti laughs.

One of the early cities on that list is Atlanta, where they lived while Deepti completed her medical residency at Emory University. “My parents were there, too, and I was glad to stay close to them as they got older,” Deepti says. But when her residency wrapped up in 2011, the opportunity to relocate was too good to pass up. Yogin, who attended Duke University for his bachelor’s, master of business administration and doctor of medicine degrees, still had plenty of ties to the area, and the couple quickly realized this was the perfect place to raise a family.

Custom-built home – Chapel Hill families gathered in a living room
The sizeable living room provides ample space both for kids to play and adults to kick back and relax.

Since moving into their new home in the summer of 2018, the Patels have continued to make it their own. A feature wall of art depicting strong women is the focus of the entry hall. “It’s really inspiring,” Kavi says. A traditional Hindu prayer and meditation space is also part of the design and features a large window overlooking the forest. Another thoughtful addition is a custom Murphy bed that’s surrounded by built-in shelving in the library, perfect for overnight guests. “When my parents come, they stay for about a month,” Deepti says. “The girls love having their grandparents here.”

Custom-built home – Two women chat on a patio
Deepti and Elizabeth Sharp chat on one of the home’s plant-filled patios.

A Place to Grow

“We have three children, which was really important to factor into the whole build – nothing could be too delicate,” Deepti says. For the main areas, they chose granite countertops and wood surfaces that could be wiped clean easily.

Custom-built home – A father holding his infant daughter in a kitchen

The girls’ bedrooms were also designed with lowered closet clothing rods, within reach of their shorter arms, and plenty of storage for books and toys. Deepti and Yogin only had two children when design plans were first drawn up, and they had planned to use a third upstairs space as a library; instead, it became Sona’s room. “She will start to have preferences soon, so it’s a blank slate for right now until she can make her own choices,” Deepti says.

Kavi often sleeps in big sister Naya’s room, especially on the weekends. “I just love her bunk bed,” Kavi says. Another favorite feature is the wall-mounted dollhouse that doubles as a shelf in Naya’s room. The sisters attend Durham Academy and enjoy playing together both indoors and out. Watering plants, swimming in the pool and crafting at their art station in the basement are some of their favorite activities.

“We also love to walk together as a family, exploring the trails in Battle Park, the UNC campus and Franklin Street,” Yogin says. “This is a wonderful place for our girls to grow up.”

The Patel family sit in front of their custom-built home
The Patels – Deepti, Kavi, Sona, Naya and Yogin – in front of their modern garage door.

Local Companies Used

The Patels gather on their patio around the pool at their custom-built home

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Morgan Cartier Weston

Morgan Weston is a North Carolina native, and loves exploring the Triangle's diverse food, arts and craft beer offerings.
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