In the house

The Light-Filled, North Carolina Home of a Midcentury Enthusiast

The only thing that comes close to Taylor Hamilton’s flair for on-the-nose pop-culture word play, which is on regular display in her line of cult-favorite greeting cards Tay Ham, is her home-design sixth sense. When a friend turned her and her husband Ross onto a now-or-never estate sale in their town of Wilmington, North Carolina, she jumped—and fast. “We literally put an offer in without going inside and got the house that afternoon. It was a little crazy,” she remembers. Just one year in, and the 1968 gem has proven very accommodating to their modern, growing brood, which includes Chili the dog, Simba the cat, and a yet-to-be-named baby girl on the way. Only the second family to live there, they have brought their enthusiasm for midcentury design, self-sufficient plants, and stand-out, second-hand accents—and have let the structure speak for itself. “Honestly, I just love all the good vibes it came with,” says Taylor. You’ll see what she means…

“The doorbell is one of my favorite details. We found the original boxes and extra parts for it in a drawer when we moved in. The original owner, a super-cool guy named Harold who lived there until he was 96, was very detail-oriented and saved everything! We even found a whole container full of old magazine cut-outs and catalogs used for inspiration when building the house.”

“We had been looking for a Herman Miller Eames lounge chair for a long time and found it on Craigslist in a town a few hours from where we live. It’s just such a quintessential part of that time.”

“I’ve definitely always been drawn to the midcentury era. I love the simple designs and how functional the pieces are. But I had no real vision when we moved in. I like to get into a space and move things around until they feel good. I also wanted to keep it clean and minimal—I save the clutter for my office. Also, a good portion of the house is made up of floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors, so it didn’t leave much room to hang art. We gave a lot of focus to the pieces we already had—most of them are museum prints by artists like Rothko, Pollock, and Josef Alber, and the rest is artwork by friends of ours.”

“The areas with the stone and wood walls add so much warmth. We didn’t want to put art on the wood-panel walls, so we got furniture in a fun color. Something that can be seen as a limitation can really just push you into another interesting choice.”

“Craigslist is always the best place for me to find everything. In my area, a small, Southern coastal town, you can really score with people selling their families’ old furniture because it doesn’t match their beachy or more traditional interiors. Look for what isn’t popular where you are, and you might find something great!”

“Originally, the entire house was carpeted, aside from the kitchen and bathrooms. I didn’t want to keep that theme going, so I had get creative. I decided to refinish the concrete slab foundation! Dulled, raw materials are a sign of the times, so I lucked out.”

“Normally I’m not into carpet, but part of this house really called for it. We ended up finding this retired guy with a warehouse out in the middle of nowhere who had a bunch of deadstock carpet, untouched from the sixties and seventies. It was perfect! We used some of it for area rugs as well.”

“The vintage Playboys were a housewarming gift! They’re all from 1968, which is the same year the house was built. It’s so fun to peel through those—lots of articles and cool, old ads.”

“My husband’s grandma was a bowler. I think the bowling pin is from a championship, and those are her teammates’ signatures. Her name was Ruth (a.k.a Nanny Ruthless). She was six feet tall and also on the senior-citizen cheerleading squad (and featured on the back of a few Tay Ham cards!). We loved her lots.”

“I’m probably most proud of the baby’s room since it’s the newest one and I’ve never had to decorate for a tiny human before! The crib is one of the only new pieces in the house because, you know, safety. Ha! It’s by this Australian brand Ubabub.”

“Seventy-five percent of the books in the nursery are courtesy of one of our Tay Ham folks, Jay! He’s our wordsmith. There are a few special ones in there I tracked down on eBay or found at library sales.”

“The original architect’s sketch for the house is hanging on the wall here. It’s one of my favorite things.”

“I love being able to hide the bar behind those panel walls. It’s a fun thing to open up for parties. You can hide the mess and encourage people to hang in the other parts of the house too by closing it up. It’s in the main entrance-slash-foyer of the house, so it can either be like, ‘boom, party!’ right when you walk in or just a pretty wall.The glassware is all eBay scores, and the chairs are Craigslist all the way.”

“The fountain was part of the original home, and it was definitely hard to get back into action. My husband spent a lot of time problem-solving to get it up and running. We have some fish now and some frogs that pop by every now and then.”

Cop Taylor’s Home Style