Come On In!
Step inside a beautiful home Inside the Beltline that features
a bold color palette, vintage treasures and unstoppable panache.
By Carla Turchetti
Photography By Davies Photography
When you walk in the front door of Beth and Roger Russell’s home, you are greeted by an explosion of style and personality. This couple has taken a traditional 1930s Inside the Beltline home and created a space where antiques mingle with the latest innovations, and meaningful accessories are the cherry on top.
The Russells purchased this home in Raleigh’s Budleigh neighborhood in 1995 and they immediately began the first of what has become three renovations.
“I walked in and I knew immediately that with the character of an old house, I had a vision of what we could do,” Beth says. “We changed doorways and windows into doors, that sort of thing.”
That’s how the red brick exterior turned cream, the upstairs bedrooms and baths were reconfigured, and the outside gained an entertaining area and a pool. Subsequent years added a first floor master suite, additional living space to the kitchen, and an outdoor entertaining area.
Beth Russell is bold with color. The front door opens into a foyer with a gently curved staircase. The foyer, the living room, and an adjacent family room are all dominated by pink.
“You see a lot of the very soft, muted walls, and that is a direction a lot of homes are going in now,” Beth says. “But we love color. That is the one thing Roger and I say when we walk in the house, is it makes us smile. It’s fun and it’s happy, and I’ve got a great husband who will let me paint the walls pink.”
“It’s salmon,” Roger gently corrects her with a smile.
The formal living room is eclectic, with paintings secured during a trip to Provence existing side-by-side with Beth’s collection of antique wedding cake toppers. A vintage Gucci purse she discovered in Nashville is part of a vignette on a side table. Sofas that face each other are bright pops of green.
To the side of the formal living room is a pink and green room that is cozy and inviting and begs you to sit down and relax. The large, flat panel television is on one wall and most of the rest of the room is made up of windows that look out onto an endless scape of green in the yard. The wood on the ceilings was a find, as was the medallion on the wall. Beth loves to scour antique shops for unique pieces for her home.
“I’ve always loved going to flea markets. Be it in town, throughout North Carolina or throughout our travels,” Beth says. “That’s why our house is a combination of old and new. Sometimes one piece can make a whole room.”
Moving from the living room toward the dining room, you catch your reflection in a series of vintage mirrors hanging on the wall. Take a turn and you are in the modern-day version of a butler’s pantry. Beth added upper cabinets that are a part of her black, red and white color scheme along with a granite-topped wet bar. Open shelving accommodates crystal, dishes and wine, and the lighting bounces off these reflective surfaces, making everything sparkle. It’s an open space that is perfect for a party – and the Russells love to host a party.
“I love to cook. And this is a great place to be able to cook, for sure,” Beth says.
The kitchen Beth cooks in features the finest in new appliances alongside some of her vintage treasures. “Bread’ is the theme of the kitchen and you will find antique bread advertisement signs, bread boxes, and a screen door that once advertised bread for a store that has now been repurposed as the door to the pantry. The kitchen island is a statement piece in woodworking that is both decorative and functional. The surface is great for food preparation or serving, or just sitting down to have a little something to eat on comfortable corduroy-covered stools. Shelves built into the island also provide additional storage space. The kitchen cabinets were hand made out of furniture that Beth found and had stripped. The kitchen is open to a sitting area that follows the red, white and black cohesiveness of the butler’s pantry and kitchen, but it features its own rooster theme, an homage to the chickens who live in their backyard coop.
“I’m a theme person; I do love themes,” Beth says.
Last year the Russells added a first floor master suite addition, and it is bathed in the only subdued palette in the home. Soothing blue and calm beige are on the ceiling and walls throughout the bedroom, master closets and adjoining bath. The bedroom has a seating area with comfortable chairs and the balcony, which looks over the beauty of the yard, is the perfect place to sit and sip a morning cup of coffee.
Beth Russell was raised in Raleigh but there is a special place in her heart for New York City. Their daughter went to college there and has stayed to pursue her profession, and now all of the upstairs bedrooms follow a New York theme. There’s the Tiffany blue suite with a floating bed frame handcrafted by Beth’s brother, woodworker Bo Taylor. There’s the workout room in Cartier red with lyrics to John Lennon’s Imagine painted on the wall. There are black lacquer walls in one of the home’s original bathrooms (black is one of Chanel’s five essential colors and the color of elegance for Coco Chanel). The Henri Bendel room features the brown-and-white stripes that are the trademark of the New York specialty store. And an antique Hermes scarf is framed in another bedroom and is the inspiration behind the room’s walls, which are painted signature Hermes orange.
The scarf in the frame is typical of the type of pieces that adorn the Russell home. There are no mass-produced pieces of artwork hung to fill up space. What is displayed is meaningful and was selected with care. There are paintings that were picked up during trips to Provence and Cuba. A program autographed by Luciano Pavarotti after a performance the Russells attended. There are family photographs old and new, artwork created by their daughter as a child, and even a drawing of the home in which Beth Russell was raised. Their home is so much their signature that no matter where they roam, they are always glad to return.
“I love coming home, and if we go out of town and travel it is always great to come home. It just feels like us,” Beth says.
The Russells created a backyard oasis during one of their renovations that is complete with covered seating, a dining area, an outside fireplace and a pool. Beth likes to garden and has created a lush landscape during the growing season. She credits the home’s original owner with planting the foundation of the garden with what has become mature camellias, boxwoods, magnolias and hydrangea.
She also added a stylish chicken coop complete with aqua painted accents, twinkling lights and a wreath, that her ten chickens call home. The chickens are responsible for the bowl of fresh eggs on the kitchen counter.
The backyard is one of the Russells’ favorite places to entertain or just relax in front of the hearth, and the same is true for so many of Raleigh’s homeowners. Just because spring hasn’t quite arrived, that doesn’t mean you can’t stop getting ready for a summer growing season.
Beth Russell gives much credit to the talented people she works with, who help make her vision for her home a reality.
Greg Paul Builders, Inc., Hart-Paul Designs, Bo Taylor Custom Woodworking, Fulford’s, CAN Decorative Painting, Christine Batts (custom cushions and seats), and Floral Design by Wylde.
Gardening in the Triangle
Photos courtesy of
Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden Center
Michael Riha, Director of Landscape Design at Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden Center, says it’s never too early to get your garden ready.
“In mild winter climates like ours, fall and winter are great times to plant dormant trees and shrubs. This ensures the plants can take advantage of a full spring season to grow and set roots before the heat of summer rolls in,” Mike says.
In this area the last frost of the season is generally around April 10th. Mike says that is the time to get leftover fall leaves out of the way and finalize your plans for what you want to grow.
“After the last frost date it’s full steam ahead putting your plans into action. You can start planting tender summer annuals or the warm veggies you’ve been thinking about all winter. Spring is really the time to get out there and start turning those garden dreams from deep winter into realities.”
While it’s easy to get carried away with dreams of planting and maintaining something along the lines of the gardens at Biltmore Estate, Mike says it’s important to be realistic about what you can maintain.
“With research, careful planning and intelligent plant choices, it’s possible to create gardens that are beautiful and don’t require hours of work every weekend,” Riha says. “If you have only a handful of weekends every year to spend in your garden, then lots of formal, clipped hedges that require endless staking, fertilizing and constant watering aren’t good choices.”
And what are his two best tips for planting your best garden ever?
“Plant densely and in layers,” Mike suggests. “Dense plantings that quickly cover all the available ground greatly reduce the opportunities for weeds to infiltrate the planting; this reduces the amount of maintenance over the life of the planting.”
And the second tip?
“Layering plantings, small trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers all in the same area mimics Mother Nature in producing plantings that are both beautiful and resistant to outside weeds.”