🏞🏖North Carolina

A new fantasy. No big, gross mansions required.

If you’re here, you’ve probably seen last week’s Saturday Night Live’s Zillow sketch. I’ve seen it approximately 7,000 times and something new resonates with me every time.

The line “I’d never live in North Carolina, but if I did, I could buy a big, gross mansion” gets me every time.

There are always “why would I live in [desirable location with cute architecture] when I could get [6,000sq ft McMansion with absolutely no character in a remote part of the country] for less?” comments. During COVID times, that’s especially valid. But if I’ve learned anything in bringing you this newsletter over the past 6 months, it’s that people will spend millions anywhere and you can also find cute homes in unexpected places- you just have to hunt for them a little more.

Here are some not-gross homes in cute areas of North Carolina.

The Spanish Revival

Location: 104 Kemp Rd W, Greensboro, NC 27410
List Price: $950,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/104-Kemp-Rd-W-Greensboro-NC-27410/5923449_zpid/

To me, this mansion is anything but gross. The 4,600sq ft property has all of the characteristics I would hope for if I was ever looking to live in a mansion, down to the black stone fireplace and wood detailing throughout. My favorite room in the house is the living room. It’s the kind of airy but semi-formal place the encourages curling up with a good book in a lounge chair by the fireplace or inviting your friends over for martinis and hours of philosophical conversation (even if it’s mostly about the Bachelor or /r/WallStreetBets and when it’s safe, obviously).

Naturally, I also love the library. But I feel like it could be turned to 11 with even more built-in bookshelves and more romantic lighting.

The thing that brings this house over the top for me is the solarium off the living room. With its vaulted ceilings, curved glass, archways with Solomonic columns, and giant Bird of Paradise palms, it feels more like a tropical getaway than a lakeside home in the center of North Carolina. But the steam shower and hot tub overlooking the lake probably don’t hurt that feeling either.

The Shed Style

Location: 602 Windward Dr, Oriental, NC 28571
List Price: $512,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/602-Windward-Dr-Oriental-NC-28571/115924169_zpid/

I find this understated Shed style home to be so endearing. From the boardwalk walkway up from the dock to the wall of windows at the top of the house, I was charmed from the start.

I love the soaring ceilings and the placement of windows around the house. It feels like a Southern take on California cool with a palette of stark white with warm natural materials. I think someone like Leanne Ford (yes, I know I’m obsessed) would be able to style this place into something quietly luxurious and cool.

One of my favorite spots in the house is the master bedroom, which still has the dramatic sloped ceiling clad in warm wood. It also has a skylight over where I might put the bed- although I’d probably want a second one or a much larger skylight to span the width of the bed- and a windowseat.

It wouldn’t be a laid back Southern house without a front porch. This house has two: one on the ground floor level tucked under a bit of the house, and this one off the living room which has been closed in by windows but still has airflow from the giant wall of windows at the front of the house.

This home has the kind of breezy organic modern feel that could entice me to move to North Carolina and live a life more connected to nature, even if that nature is just dipping my feet in the canal.

The Eclectic Home

Location: 1300 Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
List Price: $1,500,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1300-Mason-Farm-Rd-Chapel-Hill-NC-27514/50037930_zpid/

This mansion in Chapel Hill was a pleasant surprise to find, and it’s a great reminder to not judge a book by its cover. While the exterior of the home has some interesting details, it doesn’t convey the beautiful things happening on the inside.

That’s partly because the home has undergone multiple additions and renovations since it was built in 1947. One of the most interesting additions is the great room with its vaulted ceilings, crisscrossed beams, and angular clerestory windows. It is a delightful surprise and the kind of space that just brings reverence.

There are other flavors of modern design in much of the house, including an obvious Prairie School influence. This gorgeous spiral staircase steals the show in many ways, but if you look closely you’ll see a charming writing nook by the large window, complete with a typewriter.

Obviously, I also love the wood paneled library with its built-in bookcases and windowseat, but my favorite detail might be the Prarie style windows.

The Instagram Victorian

Location: 2048 Harrison St, Wilmington, NC 28401
List Price: $1,945,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2048-Harrison-St-Wilmington-NC-28401/54321629_zpid/

This listing is technically for two homes in the Wilmington area (both of which have been beautifully renovated, but for the newsletter I’m only showing photos of the larger house) and all of the furnishings, plus the marketing and management entity for the properties- Dreamers Welcome.

I’ve been following their Instagram for a while and was shocked to see the properties on the market. Every room has multiple perfectly appointed vignettes and each space has its own eclectic- and often postmodern- style.

I love how much of the original Victorian style they’ve retained and made cool through great styling. The huge windows and detailed crown molding and fireplace do make for great bones, but the styling brings what could be an ordinary bedroom to another level. They seem to pull this off in every space, even including hallways.

I also love how they’ve totally transformed many of the spaces. This minimalist, Scandinavian style room stands in sharp contrast to both the ornate Victorian style rooms and the florescent hallway. It brings me so much joy.

If Dreamers Welcome teaches us anything, it’s that anyone with some funds, handy skills, and a vision can transform an ordinary house into a true destination. As if you needed more reasons to moan “I want to flip that.”


This house from the Let the Sunshine In issue of the newsletter is still for sale and they recently reduced the price: https://www.zillow.com/homes/853-Buttonwood-Dr-Winston-Salem,-NC,-27104_rb/5786280_zpid/

It would be so much fun to fix up this wild property and make it more residential feeling: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2206-Union-Cross-Rd-Winston-Salem-NC-27107/51624009_zpid/

Bare bones A-frame with a view: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1804-Water-Wheel-Cv-Clyde-NC-28721/65631618_zpid/