Story of a House: Revival Living: Tarboro

Revival Living

by Jesma Reynolds

photographs by Catherine Nguyen

When Elizabeth Miller learned it was her turn to host Magazine Club last April, the pediatrician and mother of three realized her current living room furnishings – two small loveseats – might not accommodate the 20 ladies who comprise the membership of the venerable 100-year club in Tarboro. So she sent up an emergency flare to Eliza Stoecker and Louise Stowe in Raleigh. The sisters and Tarboro natives were already well acquainted with her gracious Greek Revival home, known as Cotton Valley. They’d long been friends with Miller’s husband Ken, who had grown up in the historic house and recently purchased it from his parents for his young and growing family.

Fortuitously, Stoecker, Stowe, and business partner Christina Allen had recently expanded their services as owners of Fleur Boutique, a women’s designer clothing store in North Hills, to include interiors, so they were ready to jump in. For her part, Elizabeth was more than ready and willing to hand over entirely the task of redecorating. What began as work in one room quickly morphed into an entire house redo.

After tackling the stately living room, where they added ethereal mint silk curtains strewn with birds, the Fleur trio moved to the family room, where they lacquered the walls in a deep peacock blue, a bold and modern approach. In the dining room, they hung wallpaper by Gracie, adding custom touches of peacock blue birds and birdcages to echo the family room walls. The light-filled kitchen was gutted and bedecked with custom cabinetry and oversized brass hardware. Fabrics throughout the rooms were chosen from Brunschwig & Fils, Schumacher, Zoffany, and Quadrille. Other punches of color – a zebra wallpaper in the powder room and pops of yellow on pillows – added a zing to gracious, important architecture.

The overall effect is simultaneously timeless and vibrant. With three children ranging from 6 months to 7 years, that’s a good thing for the active two-doctor family who both practice in Rocky Mount. Elizabeth says her 15-minute commute home to the tranquility of Cotton Valley is transformative. Meanwhile, Ken, an orthodontist and onetime musician, enjoys caring for the extensive grounds, playing his guitar, and riding around in his golf cart with a glass of wine when he returns from work in the late afternoon, taking it all in, proving that you can indeed go home again.