From the outside, Cheryl and Chris Hunter’s house looks like any other suburban 1970s split-level on their Raleigh Hills block. Long. Low. Tan. But walk inside, and everything changes. “The space went from closed off and compartmentalized to bright, open, cheery, and modern,” says Cheryl.
After the couple bought the home from its original owners in 2014, the place was—in the affectionate words of architect Risa Boyer Leritz—“a little time capsule.” It basically hadn’t been touched by the eras following its groovy time of conception. Cheryl, who works at Nike and has an architecture degree, saw beyond the disco-days pink marble, low ceilings, and metallic wallpaper. “It had good bones,” she convinced a dubious Chris, who works at Intel, and their teenage son, Will. “I could tell if we opened it up, we could make the house what we wanted.”
With Boyer Leritz’s help, ceilings raised from seven feet to almost 17 in the main living area, walls came down between kitchen, dining, and living rooms, and large panes of glass let in the light. A carpeted cave of a stairwell became a floating steel-and-white-oak sculpture, and a sleek new master suite added almost 500 square feet to the 2,700-square-foot home.
Now, eclectic furnishings—such as Hans Wegner’s iconic midcentury dining chairs, a Stickley bookshelf, an abstract oil painting by Navajo artist Sheldon Harvey, and an au courant DIY chandelier—pair with all-wood cabinets and floors to warm up the otherwise minimalist interior. “Crisp, white, let it be,” Cheryl says. “I’m comfortable with a muted palette.”
Despite the transformation, intentional nods to the home’s origins remain. “We wanted to improve and modernize the house, but also stay true to the original intent,” Cheryl says. So the hearty stone fireplaces are both original. The living room remains sunken, and a wall of walnut mimics the ’70s penchant for wood paneling. A final touch? The Hunters held on to the highly collectible Cado wall system that came with the house. Complete with desks, shelves, and light, it’s another nod to design’s enduring ’70s show.