I truly believe that the design of a living space matters. Maybe because I’m a freelancer in creative industries and I spend the majority of my time working indoors. I can’t help but be drawn to places with good design and beautiful natural light, where I feel fully awake and inspired.
When I was staying in Raleigh, North Carolina, I discovered a hidden gem. I booked my night on Airbnb at theSTORE because of the beautiful pictures. When I arrived and checked in, I was blown away by the space. The clean lines, the most beautiful light, the spacious space, and the details. I felt like a six-year old in a candy store.
John Reese is the owner, designer, and builder of the space. He was so kind and showed me around the house, and explained the design principles and details to me.
theSTORE was renovated from a two-story market built in 1917. Even though the structure of the grocery store is still there, the interior has been completely changed.
The first thing that caught my eye was the windows. Instead of using curtains, John used translucent glass panels framed with wood and steel, mounted on a steel barn-door track so the frames slide along the wall. According to John, the panels do not accumulate dust the way curtains do. For me, that soft diffused light is everything.
The house is built with a lot of attention to lighting. For example, when you walk up the elegant stairway, you’ll notice the rectangular windows on both sides of the wall, lighting up the space with natural light. If you look a bit further, you’ll notice that in the same position, there are windows cut through the wall of the interior bathroom and the bedroom that mirror the stairway windows. These windows allow light to travel across the rooms.
The other design element that caught my eye was the wall on the second floor. At the first glance, I thought it was an art installation. But John explained that it was simply 16 cabinets bolted onto the wall, spaced two inches apart. So the wall became a practical storage space with such geometric beauty that is pleasing to the eye.
From John, I learned about how he uses paint to create and divide space. In the bedrooms and bathrooms, you’ll see paint with calming neutral colors on one or two sides of the wall. When certain design elements don’t fit, these colors will help to line up space so it looks clean and organized.
John used a mixture of high and low to design and create this beautiful space. I’d never have guessed that some of the items were from IKEA, some from friends, and some even abandoned materials, even though the whole place has a ten-million-dollar feel.
I’ll stop right here so I won’t spoil all the surprises for you.
Next time I visit Raleigh, theSTORE will be my first-choice place to stay. I hope it is yours, too.