Allison and Durrell Barry bought their Lexington home in 2011, a few years before welcoming two sons into their family. Built in 1999, the house was in a quiet neighborhood, and it had an established yard with a swimming pool, but the Barrys wanted an open floor plan and a more modern aesthetic.
Allison, who grew up in Gilbert, met Durrell at Clemson University. Born in England, Durrell was raised in a military family that settled in North Charleston when he was a young teen. Formerly a coach of Division 1 college football, he is currently in law enforcement. Allison, after working as a project manager and economist, now stays home with 6-year-old Lukas and 1-year-old Micah.
Starting in the summer of 2018, the family moved to the second floor of their 4,800-square-foot home for 10 months, separated from a major construction project only by zippered walls. “We pretty much gutted the whole downstairs area,” Allison says. Other than the installation of steel beams to create an open floor plan, the hardest part of the project to endure was the refinishing of hardwood floors, which were stained with a blend of classic gray and weathered oak.
A wall of windows at the back of the home was one of the features that initially drew Allison to the house. Even before they removed a load-bearing wall to open the kitchen into the living area, the home was filled with natural light. Opening up the main floor brightened the kitchen and provided more space for the growing family to spend time with one another and to entertain friends and other family.
Interior designer Veronica Russell, who oversaw the project from blueprints to finishing touches, was happy to have all of the windows. “Natural light is the best accessory,” she says. “As much natural light as you can have helps to create the best space.”
Allison met frequently with Veronica, and they sourced appliances and plumbing fixtures together at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. An avid cook, Allison chose a Wolf range, Sub-Zero tower refrigerators, a deep Kohler sink, a Sharp microwave oven, and a Bosch dishwasher. Countertops are Carrara marble, and cabinets rise to the ceiling. Because she and Durrell like to entertain, Allison wanted two islands in the kitchen, one for food preparation and the other for dining. “I’ve already given a couple of showers here, and everything’s centered around the islands,” Allison says. “When we eat dinner, we eat at the island. We love it. We feel like it opened up the kitchen and made it seem larger.”
Veronica designed the custom hood, which is composed of a painted wood frame and contrasting steel trim work. “I was inspired by Le Cornue, the French ranges,” Veronica says. The vent hood serves as an anchor for the classic lines of the modernized kitchen. Over the islands, rectangular fixtures, sizeable iron frames without shades, provide balance in addition to light. Three rattan stools delineate the kitchen from the living area.
Built-in bookcases frame a fireplace with a television above the mantel. Audiovisual components are hidden behind a double layer of metal mesh. Art work displayed high above the fireplace near a vaulted ceiling brings warmth to the space; a complementary piece is on the opposite wall in the breakfast room. Lovely, black-and-white family portraits by Cynthia Pace personalize the room.
Opposite the breakfast room underneath a counter initially meant to be a wet bar sits a beverage refrigerator Allison requested in lieu of a sink. Although she knows it was meant to store wine and beer, she prefers to fill it with Lukas’ favorite beverages.
In the breakfast room, a sizeable custom bench houses the home’s built-in central vacuum; Veronica had the cushions upholstered in performance fabric, which resists spills. A reclaimed wood breakfast table seats eight in slipcovered chairs. “Any additional scuff marks or dents add to the character of the reclaimed wood table, making them friendly and liveable,” Veronica says. She put white slipcovers on the chairs, so they can easily be bleached. A trio of shaded pendants holds court above the reclaimed wood table. Allison particularly loves these.
Allison and Durrell chose Sherwin-Williams’ Agreeable Gray for most of the walls. “It’s just that — agreeable,” Veronica says. “It’s a nice neutral that seems to change with whatever you pair it with, and it adapts really well.” The color lends itself nicely to the airy nature of the space.
For the office and the dining room at the front of the house, they made a bolder choice: Sherwin-Williams’ Peppercorn, a striking dark gray. “My personal living room is black, and I love it,” Veronica says. “It works because natural sunlight floods the room, and I’ve contrasted the dark color with layers of white and light colors, much like the Barrys’ home office.” After they decided to paint the office walls in Peppercorn, Veronica says, “I got very excited and said, ‘Let’s be bold and bring this color across the open spaces to the dining room ceiling.’ And Allison liked it. I think it worked well.” Veronica finished the front rooms with draperies custom-made with Avant Garde fabric.
Atop a console in the dining room sits a pretty silver mirror, which Durrell refurbished himself. “It was meaningful to them,” Veronica says, “and I liked that it worked out beautifully with the traditional piece it’s resting on. The dining room as a whole ended up exactly how we were aiming. It has a nice balance of old and new elements and styles, which I think flow well with the rest of the more clean-lined updates we did throughout the rest of the house.”
Next to the office, in the marble-tiled foyer, the stairway railing was updated with black paint. It extends all the way up into the balcony. A seagrass runner trimmed in black adds a relaxed elegance to the entryway.
Allison and Veronica balanced the masculinity of the office’s dark gray walls with feminine lines in the desk and chair. Underneath the desk is a hide rug that Veronica bought on a whim from Southeastern Salvage. Its organic shape and light color draw attention to the brass feet of the desk.
Allison chose to paint the office bookcases entirely dark gray, and Veronica styled them with objets d’art, books, and personal items, like a tiger print. She always wants to use special items that make a house a home, yet she acknowledges the need to establish focal points. “It is easy to start filling up shelves with too much stuff.” The key is knowing when to scale back in order to find the right artistic balance.
Peppercorn and white also set the tone for a complete redo of Allison and Durrell’s master bathroom. “We had a jacuzzi tub that just basically took up one side of the bathroom,” Allison says. She and Durrell decided to put a large shower in place of the tub. They added a deep soaking tub next to a wall of dark tile, which Veronica selected from Palmetto Tile. “This tile,” Veronica says, “is a porcelain in a deep slate color with a contemporary, striated pattern. Similarly, the floor is tiled in porcelain meant to resemble Carrara. A refined, modern chandelier finishes the tub area.
Veronica was innovative with the expansive, white quartz vanity. “To make it a little different than your typical counter installation, we utilized a double-stacked edge. It’s really an illusion to make it appear thicker,” she says.
The bathroom is elevated by matte brass fixtures. The goal was to style the built-in cabinetry to resemble furniture, a look that was accomplished in part by adding ring pulls to the cabinets. Modern lines in the bathroom are softened with soap dishes. “I love the balance of old pieces with new, especially with a contemporary look like we did for the Barrys,” Veronica says.
Sconces installed into pre-drilled holes in the mirrors are a crowning touch to the bathroom. “I like to source these in bathrooms,” Veronica says. “I prefer front-facing light versus overhead, especially for applying makeup or shaving. This also tends to be more flattering, which is always nice.”