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speech therapist,” explains Susan. But on April 8, 2009, “life as we knew it came to screeching halt.” Liz was diagnosed with a brain tumor that the doctors called oligodendroglioma. Tommy and Susan sought out Duke University Medical Center’s Allan Friedman, the neurosurgeon who operated on Senator Ted Kennedy, and surgery was scheduled for May. After what can only be described as a miraculous recovery, Liz returned to school at ECU that fall and graduated the following spring with the rest of her class. Because of the nature of the tumor, Liz receives regular checkups at Duke. “It’s something she is meant to live with for the rest of her life,” says Susan. During her internship with Davis Health Care Center in Wilmington, Liz stayed in the Carleton Place condo she’d lived in as an undergrad, and Tommy and Susan began searching for a place nearby to call home on weekends or if their daughter needed them. Landfall instantly appealed to them. “We looked at many, many houses before our realtor showed us this patio home in Prestwick,” says Susan. “We looked at some magnificent places. Some with pools, some on the golf course, some with guest quarters. But the instant I saw this home, I said to Tommy, ‘This is the place I want.’” Oyster shell stucco adds storybook whimsy to an otherwise plain but tastefully landscaped one-story structure nestled on a quiet pond at the end of a cul-de-sac. When the Tuckers first saw it, the interior was, to put it kindly, still dressed for tea circa 1987. Enter Barbara Kornegay, a DIY local designer with a knack for recycling old furniture and finding harmony between chic and simple. She spearfishes, scavenges, brings her own sledge hammer for demolitions. “I am Jane of all trades,” says Kornegay, introducing herself and her company’s name, J.O.A.T., aka Jane Of All Trades. Kornegay renovated her first house The Art & Soul of Wilmington

in her early 20s. “I do everything.” Landfall gatekeepers know her as the spunky redhead in the white ’96 Ford F-150, ideal for hauling furniture. For the Tuckers’ 1,900-square-foot home, Kornegay envisioned an open space filled with light. “It was totally closed in,” she says, especially the kitchen. Never more. “We had many ideas from our years of traveling about what we wanted,” says Susan. “Barbara made them all come to life.” Remodeling by Erik gutted the interior and installed bullnose corner bead, lighted crown moulding and ceramic tile flooring. Kornegay asked the Tuckers for favorite artwork that might serve as inspiration for the overall design. They handed her a pair of primitive folk paintings they found at a gift shop in the Dominican Republic, the first real vacation they’d taken since Liz’s surgery. Susan recalls feeling “strangely drawn” to their vibrant colors. “They represented freedom, movement, brightness, excitement and joy,” says Susan, “emotions that had been somewhat forgotten during all of our time spent at Duke with surgery, recovery and appointments. I had the owner of the shop take the canvases off their frames, cover them with paper, and roll them up so that I could carry them home with me on the plane.” Mounted against sand-colored walls, blue, orange, yellow and purple pop. “We wanted a comfortable den with welcoming furnishings,” says Susan. “Nothing stuffy.” They arrived to find just that, an open floor plan with Caribbean-style décor and comfy furniture fit for an island resort. Kornegay’s touch is subtle yet unmistakable. In the foyer, for instance, a reinvented mirror features ceiling tin salvaged from a building in downtown Wilmington. A corner chair — “old Pottery Barn,” says the designer — was the former “wedge” of another client’s sectional. Legs were sawed off a buffet cabinet March 2015 •

Salt

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Profile for Salt

March Salt 2015  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

March Salt 2015  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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