November 2021 Issue
*This home tour was photographed following the CDC guidelines. I was tested before the shoot and talent and I wore masks and social distanced while inside the home, as well as all parties are vaccinated. I wish all of my readers safety and good health. I hope that this takes your mind off of some stress and sheds light and inspiration during this time, even for a few minutes.*
Meet the Home Owner:
Our November feature takes you inside the home of Ron Strickland, a collector of books and lover of modern design. Read how Ron has settled into his historic loft in Raleigh, NC with his new cat, Lex.
What made you select this loft in Raleigh?
I had attended the annual Christmas open house that the Cotton Mill holds as a charity
fundraiser. Condo owners volunteer to decorate and open their homes to their neighbors, friends and strangers. The warm friendliness of the homeowners and the character of the building put it on the map for me. I was already looking to buy a new place having recently sold my house. I checked out what was available and found this unit had been on the market for a
while. By March of 2015, I was in. It was all 1990’s spec but with the large exposed brick wall and tall windows, I could imagine the possibilities. It is really quite big for a one “bedroom” – there are really few walls or rooms in the place – and I loved that.
I wanted to make it even more open but that had to wait. I moved to NYC 10 months after buying it and completing a mild kitchen refresh (new counters, appliances, and re-working or removing existing cabinetry). The real work didn’t happen until I moved back 3 years later. Funny enough, I moved back after the renovation and just as the pandemic hit.
How has your home changed since the pandemic?
After moving back from NYC in 2018, my job was work from home so that part wasn’t new. One big change was that there was no where else to go for such a long time. I would go for walks around town with friends just to get out of the house and get moving since everything was closed.
Ultimately, the pandemic has meant we are all at home a good deal more than usual and even this space can feel a bit too empty at times. So, around May of last year, I adopted a 5-year-old blue-gray cat named Alexei but I call him Lex (because he’s a super villain). He has been a great companion although it took several months for him to warm up to me. I like knowing he’s around although he admittedly is asleep most of the time. I didn’t realize until I was looking, that there are lots of adult pets out there needing adoption. I encourage anyone looking to adopt to think about an adult pet.
What do you love most about this home?
The incredibly high ceiling and accompanying tall windows more than anything. At 16+ feet, these give what is relatively a small space, an immense feeling of openness and the bright sun
streams in from the 10 ft tall windows. From the main level to the loft, those are the defining elements and my favorite. They are what drew me to the place.
What is your design philosophy?
I don’t think I adhere to any specific ideas of design. For me, it’s all about what works and
usually you just know if something will or won’t. I like having art that means something to me or has a story even if it’s not great work. As my friends will tell you, I always have a story. I guess I like modern clean lines but appreciate a few special more intricate pieces– the small desk that I currently use for a bar is one of those pieces. Clearly, I enjoy books and you’ll find them everywhere. I guess my philosophy is both about look and feel. A look that is modern but not spare and a feeling of warmth in color and fabric (you can probably tell I have an affinity for deep blue velvet).
What was the biggest difference from your last home in NY?
That’s a laugh for sure. In NYC, I lived in an amazing location in Hell’s Kitchen in what could charitably be called a child’s shoe box. It was a glorified walk-in closet with a kitchenette and bathroom but it was home and I made it work.
Of course, I couldn’t beat the location near work, right in the theatre district, and several subway lines. I was seldom there though. For me, being in NYC was all about experiencing the city and exploring new places, not spending time at home.
What was your biggest challenge in this space?
The space between the kitchen and windows. Open space for now with no real purpose –
planning to keep it open and add a comfortable lounge chair and interesting rug at some point.
It’s not a bad place to do some yoga and good space for a party if we ever host those again! At
some point, I hope to do a major kitchen renovation so that space will be part of that plan.
Also, Id add that I am terrible with plants. I have to be careful with my choices so I get some that
are not dangerous for cats. My cat Lex is pretty inquisitive (aren’t all cats) but I would love to get
a couple of trees and some small plants to add some green to the place.
Who or what is your biggest design inspiration?
I’ve never really thought about it but there are many. As a kid (probably as a great many kids), I wanted to be an architect. It took a long time to know what I liked and I am still all over the map – everything from AJ Davis and William Percival (both of whom left their mark in Raleigh and other parts of North Carolina) to local favorites Philip Szostak and Kenneth Hobgood. I still enjoy following new architects and seeing their creations spring from the page. Likewise, I get inspiration from a number of designers through television, social media, and magazines. Among my favorites are Sarah Richardson (my favorite designer on Canadian TV), Robert Stilin, Ray Booth, and Neal Beckstedt, but there are countless others.
Why is creating a beautiful home important to you?
Because (even pre-Covid) it’s where we spend so much of our time. Who wants to live in a space they don’t enjoy surrounded by things that don’t create a certain feeling of satisfaction and comfort? Having things and spaces that I think are beautiful creates those feelings and it helps knowing these are all personal choices.
What is the process when selecting your pieces?
What do I need, what fits, what looks right – I think about what would work and what I need, be it a chair, table, chest, or artwork, and try to find something that makes sense for the space. Usually it boils down to style, price, and availability. There are several pieces I am currently looking to add to the space and some I would like to replace – preferences are always evolving.