Traditional Townhome Transformed into Modern Oasis

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All photos by Briana Brough.

Walking into the foyer is like exhaling a deep breath: relaxing and grounding and blithe. The palette is neutral, and the vibe is hip and serene. A painting of grazing cows hangs over a well-stocked bar cart; a massive modern dining room chandelier features clean lines, matte metal and fabric cords; funky gold sculptures evoke sea urchins; and it’s all softened with cozy blankets and plush leather. You can see it as a complete picture entering the foyer because it’s an open space, á la an urban loft – except we’re in Renee Floyd’s townhome on the main drag of Barbee Chapel Road approaching Meadowmont Village.

It was all by design. “My biggest thing,” Renee says, “was to give this a lofty feel.”


When she purchased the townhome last summer, it was more traditional. Despite a penchant for modern decor, Renee has a soft spot for old homes, too – so she has an eye for seeing the potential in a space. “I thought, ‘OK, there are high ceilings. There are hardwood floors throughout. I’m going to take this and get a loft effect from it.’”

She worked with Chuck Campbell at C&D Construction to remove crown molding and take everything back to minimal details. And then she had fun. “I did black doors,” she says. “Everybody thought I was crazy, but they turned out so good!” Indeed, since the space is mostly open, painting its few doors black helps define rather than darken it.

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With the basics taken care of, she tackled her big priority: the kitchen. Durham-based CKS Design Studio helped her install ceiling-touching cabinets (to add height), lined with gleaming white subway tile. Marble backsplashes and wide wooden plank walls, both in white, accent stainless steel appliances. “It looks incredible,” Renee says. “I love my kitchen.”


And then there’s the art. “Art is my thing,” Renee says. “I love art. I think somewhere in me is a frustrated artist. That’s how I decorate: Where is my art going to go?”

Her taste seems to be airy, neutral and layered. Think coastal landscapes heavy on the sky and fresh contemporary abstracts. “I don’t have any criteria,” Renee explains. “I just walk in, and I know.”

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Schoolhouse Electric provided sconces in the master bath, which was designed by CKS Design Studio.

Renee moved last summer from a renovated old home near Duke Forest in Durham. Interestingly, her decor hasn’t changed one bit. “I didn’t buy much of anything for the house,” she says. “Everything translated really well.”


Renee could say the same about her move. She has five children – Courtney, 36, Carrie, 35, and Logan, 30, all have families of their own, and McKenzie, 20, is a student at Elon University. Riley, 17, is autistic and lives with Renee.

Riley is part of the reason for the move to Meadowmont because of its proximity to care and opportunities for her. When Renee was house hunting, “I saw a special needs girl walking down the street [toward Meadowmont Village],” Renee recalls. “I thought that was pretty cool. Then I go park at Cafe Carolina and Bakery. She gets there right before me and she opens the door, puts on her apron, and she’s working there. I called my Realtor that day.”

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The hallway to daughter Riley’s computer nook features a bold, black-and-white wallpaper.

As it turns out, her next-door neighbors have a grown son who also has autism. “He’s about my age,” Renee says. “He works at Harris Teeter. It’s like talking to Riley 20 years from now.”

She says it all feels very “karma-ish,” something she doesn’t question. Nor does she question her approach to the art that defines a decidedly cool home. “Art is personal,” Renee says. And now we’re implying life lessons beyond canvases. “If you always get what you love, everything always goes together. I see people try to do what’s in style or what should be in a certain type of house – it’s whatever you love. Everything in here I love, I absolutely love. And it’s all totally different, and it all just kind of works.”


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Jessie Ammons

Jessie is a former Chapel Hill Magazine editor-turned freelance culture writer based in Chapel Hill. She tends to structure her days around a morning cup of coffee and evening glass of wine.
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