A Charlotte couple’s new Dilworth house checks all the boxes for a family-friendly and stylish home.
by Blake Miller • photographs by Erin Comerford Miller
styled by Molly Williams and Kendra Surface
Nick and Linsey Zalecki weren’t exactly looking to move from their Myers Park home anytime soon. “We loved that home,” Nick says of the property, which he built as a developer years ago. But when the opportunity arose to purchase a spec home he had been working on in the Dilworth Historic District, the couple felt they couldn’t pass it up. “I’ve always loved this area of town,” says Nick, a Charlotte native. “I have so many memories of riding my bike through [Dilworth], riding up to Mr. K’s for an ice cream, which is why I was so drawn to this home.”
While working on the house, the Zaleckis enlisted designer Susan Hill to assist with the architectural detail work, lighting and other accents. “I knew the home really needed a more unified design,” Nick says. “I love the historic district, but I don’t like the older, cut-up floor plans, the natural woodwork trim or small closets. I like the design and feel of a historic home’s architectural details, but I like modern finishes and a more open floor plan. And I wanted it to feel really bright inside.”
Hill’s niche as a designer is helping clients create a cohesive look throughout a home via architectural details. “That’s the foundation of everything we do — we start with the architectural details and move from there,” Hill says.
Because the home is located in a historic district, it was even more imperative that everything align with the criteria laid out by the historic preservation committee. “It was important that we maintained details throughout the house that would be reminiscent of the historic aspects of the neighborhood,” she says. “We were very careful about selecting trim and molding details, the baseboard casing, the door hardware, copper gutters, gas lanterns — all of those types of things were in place to establish a foundation for the whole home’s design.”
During this process, it became clear to Nick and Linsey they would want Hill’s help on the interior design, as well. Two priorities were laid out by the Zaleckis: “We wanted it bright and airy and also kid-friendly,” Linsey says. “We needed durable options with our three kids.” Hill took it from there, creating a design scheme that seamlessly coupled style with function.
“Nick and Linsey actually live in their house,” Hill says. “Their kids color a lot, and they use a lot of Play-Doh. Linsey tapes their drawings all over, so everything had to be very durable. Nothing could be too precious.”
As such, the kitchen banquette is swathed in a washable vinyl by Kravet, while the tufted back is a durable performance fabric by Revolution Fabric. In the family room, the custom sofa and side chairs also feature a performance-grade fabric that stands up to sticky fingers and Crayon smears.
But durability wasn’t the only consideration. Hill’s design accomplishes the light, bright and airy feel with an all-white canvas, which she layered atop with the clean lines of pieces such as the trio of Serena & Lily counter stools and custom-design bed in the owners’ retreat.
“I’m not one of those designers that will add a heavy patterned wallcovering and heavy patterned pillows and bedding,” Hill says. “Nick and Linsey really wanted to keep things more simple and neutral, a very soothing color palette.” To create interest sans bold doses of pattern and color, she incorporated texture via accents such as the rattan side chairs in the family room she found at Cotswold Marketplace and the subtle shiplap walls in the drop zone and pantry areas.
There’s a huge level of trust when you bring a designer on board,” Hill says. “You have to trust your designer, and vice versa. I didn’t design this home for the neighbor down the street or somebody else. For them, for the way they live, this home works really well. It’s comfortable, it’s extremely livable. At the end of the day, I just want to design something that’s customized for them and the way they want to live on a daily basis.” SP