Knock Knock: The Triangle’s Most Unusual Houses

Larson house in Duke Forest
Apr. 06, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

It was kind of her to not think I was with the gardeners. After all, I did arrive for my visit at the same time as the crew that was trimming the hedges. But, Wendy was gracious enough to overlook this as she led me into the Living room of her home in Duke Forest in Durham. 

The home was originally built for Arthur and Florence Larson in 1973. It was designed by Chapel Hill architect Jon Condoret, who often said it as one of his favorite projects. Wendy and her husband Donald purchased the house in 1994.

The living room I sat in while I talked with Wendy is spectacular. It has brick flooring and stucco walls, and high windows that flood the space with light. The wood ceiling with its exposed wood beams gracefully angles upwards, and as you look around you realize that none of the walls or ceilings meet at a 90 degree angle. 

Wendy tells me that the space was specifically designed for music. All the hard surfaces and angled walls and ceilings are ideal for the acoustics. The original owners were avid music lovers. They would have chamber recitals here to entertain their guests.

Actually, that’s how Wendy and Donald came to know the house in the first place. Donald was one of Arthur Larson’s students, and the young couple would often attend music events at the house. Wendy tells me she fell in love with the house back then. Years later, after the Larson’s had passed away, the family came to her to ask if she was interested in buying the home, She and Donald jumped at the chance to finally own it. Over the past 20 years they’ve lovingly restored the home and expanded it to meet their own lifestyle. Every renovation they’ve done fits seamlessly with the character of the original house.

As I sat on the couch looking out the high windows at the tops of the surrounding trees, I found myself thinking that the home is strikingly modern, but warm and inviting at the same time.  I ask Wendy what her favorite part of the home was. “I love the way it changes with the different times of the day, and different seasons. But, most of all I love how comfortable it is here.” Which is really the best thing a home can hope to be, isn’t it?