A Charlotte newcomer ditches the idea of an industrial, urban loft and instead turns a traditional townhome into a transitional, modern gem.
by Blake Miller • photographs by Dustin Peck • styling by Kendra Surface
Interior designer Robin Titus-Schwadron’s client knew exactly what he wanted when he took a job in Charlotte. “Much of my adult life, I’ve lived in either New York City or London, so I was used to a specific type of home,” the homeowner explains. “I was looking for a loft with a doorman in an industrial building.” But after a couple of months searching, it became clear that what he wanted simply was not available in the Queen City. “I was trying to find New York City or London in Charlotte, and that doesn’t exist. So I really had to change gears and my mindset and look for something that was more ‘Charlotte.’”
Soon after the homeowner revised his search, he came across a townhome in Myers Park that struck a chord with him. “It’s a townhome, but it looks like a standalone dwelling,” he says. Despite being a decade old, he could see the vast potential in the space. “It had character and really great bones, and that’s really what drew me in.” Titus-Schwadron, lead designer and owner of Chicago-based R Titus Designs, could see that though her client wanted a more modern home, he was subconsciously attracted to more traditional lines. “I think for him, it was about the bones of this home — that it’s so well done and well-built, and sometimes that’s hard to find in a more modern home these days,” the designer says.
Though Titus-Schwadron and the homeowner hadn’t previously worked together, as acquaintances she had seen his previous residence in Virginia, a traditional, Spanish Mission-style home. “He was really craving something more modern with the interiors here, but I think what he couldn’t stray from or ignore was his affinity for the traditional architectural details of this home,” Titus-Schwadron says. With this in mind, she pulled together a design scheme that wouldn’t necessarily cover up traditional details such as the home’s heavy crown molding and trim, but rather complement it with more modern furniture, accessories, textures and patterns.
“To me, the word traditional isn’t a pattern or color,” she explains. “Traditional is having the right pieces in the room. This home feels like a traditional home. The layout is traditional. The architecture is traditional. But the modern aspect comes in via the accents and patterns.”
After painting the entire, 3,000-square-foot home, Titus-Schwadron focused on updating the architectural details such as the casings and moldings by painting them a darker hue than traditional bright white. In smaller spaces, such as the powder room, foyer and primary suite, she installed patterned wallpaper, despite the homeowner’s initial reluctance.
“I really wasn’t sure about the wallpaper, but then I let Robin loose and now I absolutely love it,” he says. In the reading room off the primary suite, the walls and ceiling are wrapped in a bold gray-and-white Phillip Jeffries wallpaper to create a warm, cocoon-like effect. “The wallpaper highlights the angles in a fun-shaped room,” Titus-Schwadron says. The sitting room is now the homeowner’s favorite space to unwind and even work from home.
A passionate art enthusiast, the homeowner insisted on choosing the artwork for his home. Paintings by Erik Renssen, which the homeowner purchased at a gallery in Amsterdam, and southern artist Nathan Durfee, from Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, instantly introduced a more modern aesthetic in the living room.
While Titus-Schwadron pushed the envelope with the bolder finishes and patterns, she never strayed too far from the home’s traditional bones. In the dining room, pale blue walls are complemented by grasscloth on the ceiling and hand-printed linen draperies by Lindsay Cowles. Even the dining room chairs by Interlude Home skew modern but still maintain a healthy dose of tradition in their shape and lines.
For the designer, this was one of her fondest residential projects. “Even though it had its challenges working remotely from Chicago, this is one of my favorite homes that I designed,” Titus-Schwadron says. “Working with this client was such a pleasure. And helping him find the perfect home was great.” SP