The Edwards worked with Paces & Roehm Architecture to bring their new home into this decade and align it with the modern farmhouse
By Morgan Cartier Weston | Photography by John Michael Simpson
The best finds come along when you least expect it. This adage proved true for Todd Edwards and Leah Edwards, who weren’t even planning to move when they came across a home in Governors Club in July 2020.
“We were living in The Preserve at Jordan Lake at the time and perfectly happy there,” Leah says, adding that Todd happened to see the listing (and its price reduction). “But this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
The family shares a love of golf, she says, “and with its location so close to the action in Chapel Hill, [Governors Club] had always been on our radar.”
The Edwards originally moved to the area from California 15 years ago, when their daughter, Lauren, was 9, and their son, Luke, was 5. Today, Lauren is starting a family of her own in Massachusetts, and Luke began his first semester at UNC, where he plays on the men’s golf team, so the new home has become an ideal empty nest project.
Built in 1997, the home was structurally sound, but felt dated and dark. The exterior was covered in a nude stucco, and inside, the rooms were painted in dark colors and wallpapered in floral prints. Heavy drapes and wood paneling made the spaces feel even smaller. “There were narrow doorways separating all the living spaces, too, so the rooms didn’t feel connected at all,” Leah explains.
“We walked in and clearly had watched way too much HGTV, because we immediately saw all these projects and thought we could do everything,” Leah laughs. “With the kids out of the house, we were ready for something new to focus on, and we’ve definitely found it.”
The Edwards worked with Abbie Lee Roehm of Paces & Roehm Architecture to bring the home into this decade and align it with the modern farmhouse style Leah loves. “We kind of told her our vision for the exterior – it was a peachy, textured look, and we wanted something light and bright and clean, to give it that farmhouse feel,” Leah says. “Abbie Lee came up with the exterior [idea] and gave us some ideas for the inside as well. She did a great job helping bring that modern feel to life. We are in love with how things turned out,” Leah says. Bold Construction executed the design.
Moving and renovating during a global pandemic had its challenges. “It took a lot of patience,” Leah says. From materials being delayed to being diagnosed with COVID-19 themselves, the Edwards faced several hurdles over the past year. “Some of the changes we made were based on our preference, but others were for safety,” Leah explains. “The deck was crumbling, for example – you could have put your foot right through it.”
Rob West’s team at All American Deck Works in Raleigh replaced the wood with durable Trex boards. “Once we redid all that, we turned our attention to the front courtyard,” Leah says. “It had a big stucco retaining wall [and] a fountain; it looked really ’90s.” The same team is currently working on a more modern courtyard with a feature wall composed of the same boards to create a special entrance to the house. “Rob is really meticulous and a perfectionist and has been great to work with,” Leah says.
Among the more impactful projects – and one of Leah’s favorites – was the entryway and sweeping staircase. “The stairs were walled in and covered in mint green carpet,” she explains. Once the wall was opened up, Triangle Iron Design & Fencing in Raleigh created a custom banister; now the staircase is a show stopping feature and offers a welcoming glimpse into the kitchen beyond.
The kitchen layout stayed mostly the same, but the island was enlarged to maximize entertaining space. “Everyone always gathers in the kitchen, so if you’re on the fence about a bigger island, I highly recommend going for it,” Leah says.
Now that the major construction projects are done, Leah has begun decorating. “It’s so personal, and I love finding old pieces that mix with new,” she says. Leah collects landscape paintings and mixes antique furniture with rustic rugs and new decor pieces, creating a blend of textures that suits the home but still feels fresh.
Leah encourages others who are taking on home projects during the pandemic to have an open mind and “look for contractors who you gel with,” she says. “Basing decisions off of price or timeline may seem like a good idea on the surface, but when challenges inevitably arise, you will be glad you’ve chosen someone you feel great working with.”
The next project? Transforming the backyard into a putting green. “We can’t wait for Luke to bring his friends over to enjoy the backyard and practice their short game,”Leah says.