When a single father of three kids needed a Greensboro house ready for  day-to-day life, interior designer Kara Cox was up for the task. “He knew he didn’t have the time to build a custom home or fully renovate a house because of his work schedule,” says Cox, “so he purchased a builder spec house that had recently been completed in a great neighborhood.”

The Cape Cod house had a lot going for it already. The good parts: it had 3,000 square feet, with an open floor plan for entertaining, and space for a home office. The not-so-good: uninspired lighting, an all-gray color palette throughout and builder-grade carpeting. Kara immediately got to work, changing out light fixtures, replacing carpet and creating an environment for the homeowner’s striking art collection. “We painted the entire house in a soft warm taupe with blue accents to complement the warmer colors in the artwork,” says the designer. She also chose furniture in lighter finishes to keep the vibe casual, and she mixed in modern materials such as lucite, glass and antique brass.

Artistic details give the house a more personal touch, as well. A “bubble” light fixture by Oly and bold 3D art in the dining room elevates a room often filled with traditional furnishings. Kara chose a geometric wallpaper for the powder room as another conversation piece, and a richly colored vintage rug for the kitchen to break up all the gray. “There are a lot of builder spec homes that can be tailored to a new look,” says Kara, “We did a lot of customization to what most people would have considered a move in-ready home.”

Take a look at the details of the finished product:

“The foyer area is small but we wanted to have a drop spot for guests and welcoming entry,” says interior designer Kara Cox. “The Lucite console and large mirror add a lightness and whimsy while the geometric Tibetan rug from Moattar (moattar.com) grounds the small space with a modern touch.”

“The foyer area is small but we wanted to have a drop spot for guests and a welcoming entry,” says interior designer Kara Cox. “The lucite console and large mirror add a lightness and whimsy while the geometric Tibetan rug from Moattar grounds the small space with a modern touch.”

A stair runner with a nail-head border brings in texture, warm metals and a soft blue accent to the space.

A stair runner with a nail-head border brings in texture, warm metals and a soft blue accent to the space.

Kara kept furnishings in the dining room simple to allow the striking artwork to stand out, which the homeowner had purchased in Paris. The table by Robert James (robertjamescollection.com) features a hand-scraped finish and brass legs. The Hickory Chair (hickorychair.com) dining chairs are upholstered in a Thibaut (thibaut.com) crypton fabric so they’ll be spill-proof for family-friendly meals, says the designer. Similarly, the rug is an indoor-outdoor version from Stanton (stantoncarpet.com).

Kara kept furnishings in the dining room simple to allow the striking artwork to stand out, which the homeowner had purchased in Paris. The table by Robert James features a hand-scraped finish and brass legs. The Hickory Chair dining chairs are upholstered in a Thibaut crypton fabric so they’ll be spill-proof for family-friendly meals, says the designer. Similarly, the rug is an indoor-outdoor version from Stanton.

“The Oly bubble fixture brings a fun touch to the dining area to keep the look artistic but light,” says Kara.

“The Oly bubble fixture brings a fun touch to the dining area to keep the look artistic but light,” says Kara.

Swivel chairs by Wesley Hall (wesleyhall.com) add extra seating in front of the living room fireplace. Romo (romo.com) tape trim on the chair skirts brings in an unexpected detail and pop of color. Modern, banded roman shades are in a Romo geometric fabric that plays off the original art by Brian Coleman (briancolemanart.com).

Swivel chairs by Wesley Hall add extra seating in front of the living room fireplace. Romo tape trim on the chair skirts brings in an unexpected detail and pop of color. Modern, banded roman shades are in a Romo geometric fabric that plays off the original art by Brian Coleman.

A spacious sectional from Hickory Chair is upholstered in indoor-outdoor fabric for practicality. The large coffee table from Vanguard (vanguardfurniture.com) has Lucite legs to keep it from overwhelming the space.

A spacious sectional from Hickory Chair is upholstered in indoor-outdoor fabric for practicality. The large coffee table from Vanguard has lucite legs to keep it from overwhelming the space.

Kara simplified the existing kitchen by eliminating two cabinet colors to just one classic gray everywhere. “We also changed out all of the cabinet hardware to antique brass to warm up the cooler gray tones of the cabinetry,” says the designer. The original builder-sourced lighting was replaced by simple “Kate” pendants from Visual Comfort (visualcomfort.com) over the island in a similar aged brass finish.

Kara simplified the existing kitchen by eliminating two cabinet colors to just one classic gray everywhere. “We also changed out all of the cabinet hardware to antique brass to warm up the cooler gray tones of the cabinetry,” says the designer. The original builder-sourced lighting was replaced by simple “Kate” pendants from Visual Comfort over the island in a similar aged brass finish.

“We added upper cabinets in the bar area to add function with extra storage,” says Kara. “By backing the upper cabinets in mirrors, we reflected light to an interior wall that did not have windows.”

“We added upper cabinets in the bar area to add function with extra storage,” says Kara. “By backing the upper cabinets in mirrors, we reflected light to an interior wall that did not have windows.”

A sitting room/office can function as a place for the homeowner to work, or a casual spot for cocktails. The designer commissioned custom bookshelves and then specified a high-gloss lacquer finish on them to give the room a bit of shine and reflect light.

A sitting room/office can function as a place for the homeowner to work, or as a casual spot for cocktails. The designer commissioned custom bookshelves and then specified a high-gloss lacquer finish on them to give the room a bit of shine and reflect light.

“We wallpapered the walls in a Phillip Jeffries (phillipjeffries.com) blue/gray grass cloth for a tailored, layered feel,” says Kara. Geometric shapes are subtle in the Schumacher (fschumacher.com) drapery panels.

“We wallpapered the walls in a Phillip Jeffries blue/gray grass cloth for a tailored, layered feel,” says Kara. Geometric shapes are subtle in the Schumacher drapery panels.

The long wall of the office room is highlighted by an installation of geometric silkscreen portals by Natural Curiosities (naturalcuriosities.com) that lend a modern edge to the room.

The long wall of the office room is highlighted by an installation of geometric silkscreen portals by Natural Curiosities that lend a modern edge to the room.

The powder room had an existing vanity in a darker gray that Kara repainted in a lighter finish. “We then added the Zoffany (zoffany.com) wallpaper, Bungalow 5 (bungalow5.com) mirror and small watercolor piece by Atlanta artist Erin McIntosh (erinmcintosh.com),” says the designer.” I love to layer pattern with art, so powder rooms are a great place to do this. You can add a pattern that’s harder to pull off in a large space but is a perfect punch in a smaller room.”

The powder room had an existing vanity in a darker gray that Kara repainted in a lighter finish. “We then added the Zoffany wallpaper, Bungalow 5 mirror and small watercolor piece by Atlanta artist Erin McIntosh,” says the designer. “I love to layer pattern with art, so powder rooms are a great place to do this. You can add a pattern that’s harder to pull off in a large space but is a perfect punch in a smaller room.”

The master bedroom features soft blue tones with accents in yellow and purple. “We balanced the masculine Hickory Chair nightstands and upholstered bed with the nude figure by Greensboro native, Kate Long Stevenson (katelongstevenson.com), who is now an artist based in Charleston,” says Kara. “Fortunately, we both love Kate’s figures because they’re both modern and simple at the same time, so that was an easy choice for the bedroom wall.”

The master bedroom features soft blue tones with accents in yellow and purple. “We balanced the masculine Hickory Chair nightstands and upholstered bed with the nude figure by Greensboro native, Kate Long Stevenson, who is now an artist based in Charleston,” says Kara. “Fortunately, we both love Kate’s figures because they’re both modern and simple at the same time, so that was an easy choice for the bedroom wall.”

The daughter’s favorite colors turquoise and purple were incorporated in an upholstered headboard and matching bed skirt in a Pierre Frey (pierrefrey.com) fabric. Black and white accents include Schumacher city scape fabric on the pillow and Pottery Barn Teen (potterybarn.com) bedding.

The daughter’s favorite colors — turquoise and purple — were incorporated in an upholstered headboard and matching bed skirt in a Pierre Frey fabric. Black and white accents include Schumacher city scape fabric on the pillow and Pottery Barn Teen bedding.

The fish headboard was originally from a family beach house, but is now a focal point for the son’s bedroom. West Elm (westelm.com) nightstands and lamps and a funky Kravet (kravet.com) geometric on the roman shades are joined by a large lantern fixture to highlight the tall ceiling.

The fish headboard was originally from a family beach house, but is now a focal point for the son’s bedroom. West Elm nightstands and lamps and a funky Kravet geometric on the roman shades are joined by a large lantern fixture to highlight the tall ceiling.

The finished product is the perfect place for this family to call home!

Thanks to Kara Cox for sharing this project with us. And thanks to Stacey Van Berkel for today’s beautiful photos.

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