House Tours: Traditional Home with Southern Charm

See how interior designer Kristen Cox and her husband, architect Craig Cox, transformed this downtrodden Charlotte, North Carolina, duplex into a stunning Southern charmer.


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outside of the house
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Good Bones

    Husband-and-wife team Craig and Kristen Cox had their work cut out for them when they purchased a worn 1926 Colonial duplex in Charlotte. The couple restored it to its single-family state -- and provided a 600-square foot addition. The result is a Southern charmer that remains true to its heritage, with plenty of modern updates.

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Fresh Take on Traditional

    "Our style has traditional leanings, but is more modern and unexpected than what you would typically see in a Colonial house," Kristen Cox says. Like many of the serene interior spaces she creates for her clients, this room begins with a neutral foundation and thoughtfully incorporates color -- here, orange and turquoise.

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Pattern With Restraint

    Rather than covering the entire surface in pattern, Kristen Cox upholstered only the backs of these slipper chairs in a bold tangerine-and-aqua-patterned fabric. "I use bold pattern sparingly so it doesn't overpower architecture and artwork," she says.

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Classic Meets Contemporary

    Built-in bookcases and furniture with classic lines reinforce the Cox's traditional style, while details like the translucent glass lamp add modern sparkle.

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Cozy Abode

    "We both love tradition, but with contemporary elements, unexpected colors, and lots of comfort," says Kristen Cox. Each of these styles makes itself known in the Cox's living room. A stately wood-and-granite fireplace is set off by a modern glass fire screen and a luminous mother-of-pearl pendant light.

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Astute Design

    In this grown-up study just off the living room, Kristen Cox used ruched silk upholstery and brown velvet cushions to take the stuffiness out of a pair of wingback chairs. A tortoiseshell lamp lends an academic air.

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Mature Palette

    The Coxes chose a warm charcoal color for the kitchen walls. Kristen Cox says the handsome shade keeps the beaded board from appearing "too folksy." In this sun-drenched breakfast area, she paired a vintage dining table with reproduction bentwood chairs.

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Island Oasis

    This walnut island is not only beautiful, it also packs storage punch. With a built-in wine refrigerator and an open bookcase, the Coxes have plenty of room to stash entertaining supplies without cluttering up their countertops.

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Illuminating Options

    "Great lighting is essential in every room," Kristen Cox says. "I often use lighting to create an element of surprise or edge in an otherwise straightforward room." She treasures these vintage wrought-iron pendants that dangle over the island. They've made an appearance in each of the three homes she has renovated.

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Enlightening Opportunities

    Kristen Cox is known for her understated yet elegant window treatments. Here, she employs tea-stained linen Roman shades to infuse the kitchen with soft, natural light.

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Sophisticated Suite

    In the master bedroom, sophistication reigns. Even more so than the rest of the home, pattern in the couple's private quarters is restrained: Two bold pillows on the bed are all it takes to add spice to the palette. "A little goes a long way," Kristen Cox says of her approach to pattern.

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Calm and Collected

    Kristen Cox adopted a unique approach for the master bedroom windows. Rather than the standard two-panel treatment, she installed three drapery panels to create "another layer of interest and a pretty breeziness," she says.

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Bath and Beyond

    Natural-stone mosaic tile adds elegance to the bathtub surround in the master bathroom.

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His and Hers

    Dual basins rest atop a traditional cabinet in the master bathroom. The large mirror is an antique. Emphasizing the importance of proper lighting, the Coxes installed overhead lamps and side sconces to enhance the quality of light in the room.

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Design Duo

    Craig and Kristen Cox fused their architecture and interior design backgrounds when it came to renovating their 1926 home. "We both derive great satisfaction from taking something dilapidated and transforming it into something beautiful. Working together, we knew we could do that here," Kristen Cox says.

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