Story of a House: Modern Madness

Warmed up minimalism meant for real life

by Jessie Ammons

photographs by Trey Thomas

Before there was Pinterest, there was Amity’s laptop,” says Mike Ferguson, recalling the process of their Raleigh home renovation. His wife’s folders of screenshots, magazine scans, and general inspiration are how the couple arrived at a modern architectural design, which was at first a surprise to them both. “I didn’t think I had a huge draw to modern,” Amity Ferguson says. But as she culled through websites and catalogs, the preference was unavoidable: “I just kept getting cleaner and cleaner, more and more glass – more and more modern.”

The couple have added their personal touch to a classic school of thought with warm wood finishes and textured decor layered with quirky thrifted baubles. “ I have lots of weird little clusters of stuff,” Amity says. They seem curated rather than weird – a side table made of a huge old mailbox; collected busts and sculptures next to animal skulls from a friend’s farm in Efland;  little figurines of various sentimental values – and are a cozy complement to the house’s subdued tones and clean lines.

The Fergusons had been living down the road before buying the home in 2008. The house is across the street from Fallon Park, and Mike says he had always envied the proximity. “It’s the ideal location right across from the park.” While walking the dogs one day, he noticed renters moving out; before long, he was on the phone with the owner making an off-the-market offer. 

With their dream lot secured, the couple set to reckoning with the outdated house. Given their newfound “modern sensibilities,” Mike says, a friend recommended celebrated architect Louis Cherry. Together with builder John Sanders, Cherry redesigned the house while keeping much of its original footprint. It was Sanders’s first modern house and the Fergusons’ first go-round, as well;  the couple says the collaborative effort was a happy one. “Louis (Cherry) nailed it,” Mike says, “and John (Sanders) had great practical insight, as did Amity. … It was the perfect combination.”

The renovation took two years, and the Fergusons, along with daughter Ellery, 11 (and the’ve since added daughter Baker, 9 this month), continued living down the street until it was finished. (“We could practically watch the construction,” Amity says.) Today, the sunny final product reflects the Fergusons’ comfortable style and also suits their love of entertaining. “This has been a natural place to gather,” Mike says, especially with their close-knit group of neighbors. “It’s built for it: There are so many open spaces.”

Community, space, and personal flair are all at balance here. Says Mike: “We’ll never leave this house.”