This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Durham Magazine.
Linsey Hughes cried when her husband, Duncan, told her he’d gotten a fellowship at Duke Hospital, and they’d be moving their family from New York to North Carolina.
"The life we had in New York was so special, and New York will always be in my heart and under my skin," she says. "I was one of those people where I got to Manhattan, and I was like, ‘I don’t even have a choice, I have to live here.’”
But, to her surprise, tears gave way to enthusiasm, as the Hughes family has found home and lots more wide open spaces in Hope Valley. “We realized that with the two kids and the two big jobs in New York that our life there was not sustainable,” Linsey says. “So we were ready to leave. We just didn’t know where to go.
“Sometimes, your questions get answered for you.”
We have to put this conversation on pause as she gets up to find some entertainment for her 2-year-old son. I follow her into the “kliving room” – the kitchen that opens up to a cozy den. Linsey says this is where the family spends the most time together, and where she sets her youngest up with some magnetic blocks and Hot Wheels before we move into the formal dining room.
“This is one of my favorite rooms in the house because, coming from Manhattan, we did not have a dining room,” Linsey says. “This room is a real luxury. It feels so amazing to be able to say, ‘I’m going to have 10 people over for dinner tonight.’”
The couple likes the character of the 84-year-old house but, still being young, felt it was a little too “grown-up.” So, to counter that, they chose bold colors and textures, like putting the red, suede couch from their 950-square-foot New York apartment in the living room set against equally-warm-but-not-as-bright yellow-golds and dark browns, and a black chandelier with a white shag carpet in the dining room. We circuited through the study, sunroom-turned-playroom and then upstairs to the kids’, guest and master bedrooms – the latter two featuring spacious balconies overlooking the golf course and backyard, respectively – before winding up back on the couch, where the story continues.
After taking a day to look at the rental inventory in Durham, the Hugheses were unimpressed. A friend suggested Hope Valley, so they took an evening trip through the neighborhood, and in the 15 minutes before their flight back to New York the next day, they went for a second look. “We literally saw the ‘for sale’ sign outside of this house and slammed on the brakes,” Linsey says. “I ended up flying back down for a day to look at it, and that was it. Duncan never saw the inside of it. He just trusted me.”
By this point in our chat, Duncan has joined us during a break from the hospital. Still in his scrubs, he emphasizes that, while they could leave the fairytale home in a few years, “We knew at the very least that for those years, we were going to be a family.”
“We spent our whole lives busting our butts, living in small New York apartments,” Duncan says. “It’s time to start living life a little bit. It’s nice to have a home we’re finally proud of.” DM