When Angela and Sam Eberts began searching for a home in Chapel Hill, they knew they needed something special. The pair had been living in a converted cookie factory in Chicago, and weren’t afraid of a renovation – but every home they saw seemed wrong.
“We must have looked at a thousand homes before we found this one,” says Angela, senior director of the Duke Futures Program at Duke University. “We needed two home offices and two master bedrooms, plus living space and rooms for our kids.”
That dream began to feel impossible until, in 2004, the couple’s realtor took a chance on showing them a home in the middle of being flipped. The investors had made some major decisions already, but the Eberts family was able to chime in on features both functional and aesthetic that made it feel like their own.
Originally built in the 1950s, the Westwood home was formerly occupied by the late Dr. Frederick Eldridge, who retired in 1997 after nearly 25 years on the UNC School of Medicine faculty. He and his wife, Mary Frances Eldridge, were avid gardeners. “The yard was bountiful,” says Angela, noting views of the yard from the home’s many windows as one of her favorite features.
Evidence of the previous owners’ hard work in the secluded 1-acre lot can be felt in the comforting shade of towering magnolias and traditional hedges, while wire lounge chairs, stone and metal sculptures and a bubbling water feature modernize the outdoor retreat. Landscaper Jim Flanagan helped the Eberts curate the abundant existing plantings and introduce new ideas. “It’s so peaceful out there,” says Sam, who serves as chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate affairs at LabCorp. “We feel lucky to be so close and yet able to get away from it all.”
We feel lucky to be so close and yet able to get away from it all.
During the 2004 renovation, the home was converted from a traditional ranch-style with a small basement to a contemporary two-story, four-bedroom home. With the guidance of architect Jay Fulkerson and Jay Buckley of J.B. Buckley Construction, the Eberts undertook a second renovation in 2011, extending their basement and adding windows to provide more light downstairs, and adding a screened porch for entertaining on the deck above.
A MULTICULTURAL MEDLEY
Inside, contemporary furnishings harmonize with bold North American folk art and intricate antiques found on trips to Southeast Asia. The two-story foyer showcases a large-scale painting purchased in Chicago and a carved wooden chaise the couple brought back from their honeymoon in Indonesia. Angela and Sam attend Fearrington’s Folk Art Show each year and have also acquired pieces from Leland Little Auctions.
The basement provides several unique spaces, including a wine cellar, exercise room, craft area, rec room and media viewing room. A collection of antique cocktail shakers is displayed on the bar; Sam’s collection of Elvis Presley figures are right at home on the media console and built-in bookshelves.
Tying everything together are poured concrete counters throughout the home, lending an earthy feel to the kitchen, bar and bathrooms. “If you look closely, you can see metal ‘fossils’ and swirls of color that were mixed into the concrete,” says Angela. “We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so we were glad to be able to add these custom touches.”
A FAMILY OF FOODIES
Strangers to the South, the Eberts didn’t know what to expect when they moved to Chapel Hill. “I had only driven through North Carolina before moving here,” says Sam. Angela, who worked from home during their first few years here, wasn’t sure where to meet people at first.
However, Angela had always been interested in cooking, and began visiting Southern Season. She later took on a role providing tastings and cooking classes there in the evenings, and eventually started catering on the weekends, too. Though most of her cooking is done at home now, she credits food with bringing the family closer to the community.
“We definitely have good friends in the area now,” says Sam. A dinner club, now 11 years strong, and annual block parties keep them connected to their neighbors. “We also enjoy the amazing selection of restaurants we have here – Lantern, Med Deli, Sandwhich, The Crunkleton – and we love that we can walk to Merritt’s,” says Angela.
Both of the children enjoy cooking, too. Son Jackson, 19, a student at Endicott College in Massachusetts, interned at C’est si Bon! Cooking School every summer while he attended Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill. “It definitely made me more open to trying new foods and cooking more at home,” he says. Daughter Grace, 15, a sophomore at Trinity School, enjoys baking, and often employs that talent as a Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels volunteer.
When they’re not in the kitchen, Jackson can be found bikepacking or hiking (the Haw River is a favorite spot), and Grace spends six days a week dancing at Triangle Youth Ballet.
Angela and Sam remain pleasantly surprised by the arts community in the area, and frequent PlayMakers Repertory Company, DPAC and Silverspot for entertainment year- round, as well as Durham’s annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and American Dance Festival. “I always said we’d move back to Chicago one day, but now, I’m not so sure,” Angela laughs.
I always said we’d move back to Chicago one day, but now, I’m not so sure.
Photography by Briana Brough