home & garden
AT RIGHT Eleanor, Kelly and pup Nyx enjoy a book in the master bedroom’s reading nook. ABOVE Vertical storage maximizes space in Eleanor’s room.
The Best of Both Worlds he problem with being an architect? “I always want to build a new house,” Erik Mehlman says. But when he and wife Kelly Mehlman started thinking about a long-term home to start a family, it was a nobrainer to invest in remodeling their 1938 Cape Cod in Watts Hospital-Hillandale. When daughter Eleanor, 5, came along, it only affirmed their decision. “We’re two blocks from Oval Drive Park and can walk to Ninth Street,” Kelly says. “We’re probably biased, but we think this is the coolest neighborhood in Durham,” Erik adds. The Mehlmans first purchased their home in 2013 and began with minor interior touch-ups, like paint and fixtures. Erik, who serves as a partner and design lead at BuildSense, already had plenty of experience with the stumbling blocks that can come up during a large-scale renovation.
“We always tell our clients to keep it realistic when approaching a remodel,” he explains. “That means what really needs to be done should always come before the ‘nice-to-haves.’” So, when the time came to fully modernize, Kelly and Erik worked with the BuildSense team and began designing their “new” home. At the surface, Kelly and Erik’s priorities were simple: Open up the main floor living areas, update the kitchen and create a beautiful master suite. “We needed a place to gather, cook, play,