Reviving Narayani:

A Tale of Love, History, and Renewal in Raleigh’s Heart

In the embrace of a historic Raleigh neighborhood, there stands not just a house but a warm home revived with love and dedication, known affectionately as Narayani. Narayani is a name deeply rooted in spiritual and maternal symbolism. It encapsulates the essence of maternal energy that is inherently good, benevolent, and nurturing. This energy is seen as a source of good luck and blessings from the maternal power that watches over, protects, and guides. 

Based on the plaque nailed onto the home, the home was built in 1909. This home has witnessed over a century of stories, its walls steeped in history and resilience. It’s a precious piece of heritage, cradled in a community where every brick and beam echoes tales of yesteryears. Embarking on the journey to breathe new life into this venerable dwelling required more than just skill—it needed heart, patience, and an unwavering respect for its past.

Driven by a profound connection to the home’s historic standing, overseen by the vigilant Raleigh Historic District Commission (RHDC), Abi embarked on this renovation quest in 2021. The RHDC, guardians of the area’s architectural legacy, ensure that any modifications pay homage to the original essence, balancing preservation with necessary modernization. Navigating this tightrope, infusing the house with personal touches while respecting its historical integrity, became Abi’s labor of love.

From the moment Abi laid eyes on the property, it was clear it was more than just a structure; it was a canvas brimming with potential, longing for care. The dream of molding it into a reflection of personal aesthetics while nurturing its soul was irresistible. This vision of harmony between the home’s inherent beauty and modern comforts prompted Abi, an engineer by training yet a novice in restoration, to take a heartfelt leap into the unknown.

The transformation journey was a collaborative symphony, with Glasgow Design Build and Midge Hunt playing instrumental roles. Glasgow Design Build, known for its deep understanding of historic renovations, brought technical expertise and a passion for reviving the home’s glory. Their proficiency in the delicate balance of maintaining historical integrity while incorporating modern functionality was paramount. The team’s technical acumen and genuine enthusiasm for preserving history ensured that the structural and aesthetic renovations were carried out with the utmost respect for the home’s original character.

Midge Hunt, owner/manager of Jo-Leigh Hospitality LLC, a short-term rental business, was discovered through LinkedIn. She brought her eye for detail and experience in creating inviting spaces. Her contributions transformed the interior into a harmonious blend of history and modernity, ensuring every room told a part of the home’s new story.

At the heart of this renewal was the bold decision to open up the home, tearing down walls that once divided, to create a flowing, interconnected space. That decision created avenues of light, weaving airiness and peace into the home. Glasgow Design Build’s expertise was crucial in executing this vision, ensuring that the structural changes enhanced the home’s beauty and functionality. Glasgow Design Build’s understanding of the technical challenges involved in historic renovations allowed for seamless integration of new elements into the existing framework, preserving the home’s soul while ushering in a new era of comfort and style.

Adding a new bathroom and back deck weren’t just practical enhancements; they were extensions of the home’s soul, blending utility with an inviting charm. Glasgow Design Build’s role in these additions was instrumental, applying their knowledge of modern building techniques to enhance the home’s historic charm. Their ability to navigate the complexities of such a project, from obtaining the necessary permits to the final touches of craftsmanship, was a testament to their dedication and expertise.

Every choice, from the artisan-crafted light fixtures to the handpicked curtains, was made with a deep desire to honor the past while embracing Abi’s style. Particular care was given to preserving the home’s original features, like the fireplace and the quaint windows, integrating them with the new to create a seamless blend of history and present-day life.

Now reborn as a getaway in Historic Oakwood, the home opens its arms to guests, inviting them to be part of its ongoing story. Abi’s devotion to every detail, from the choice of toilet bowl cleaners to the thematic harmony of the décor, makes each stay a testament to the home’s journey from neglect to splendor. This project was never just about renovation; it was about weaving a new narrative of revival, intertwining the threads of history with the present, and crafting a sanctuary that pays homage to its roots and Abi’s dream.

Narayani is a place where history and modernity are embraced, a testament to the power of vision, collaboration, and heart. Despite the hurdles, regulatory hoops, and unforeseen challenges, this home’s transformation celebrates renewal, marking Abi’s evolution from a beginner to a proud guardian of history. It’s a warm, welcoming landmark in Raleigh’s rich history, a home that tells a story of architectural revival and embodies the essence of homecoming and love.

From Debbie Miller, Project Manager at Glasgow Design Build:

“Embarking on the renovation of a home listed on the National Historic Register is no small feat, and our project with Abi was a testament to the meticulous care and dedication required to honor the past while weaving in the comforts and aesthetics of the present. This whole house renovation was a delicate dance of preservation and innovation, guided by the stringent requirements of the City of Raleigh. Before we could proceed with any external modifications, each selection had to receive the City’s approval through a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA), ensuring that every change we made was in harmony with the home’s historic essence.

One notable instance of this careful negotiation was the replacement of what might have been a sliding glass door with French doors, a choice that aligned with the home’s historic character while accommodating modern functionality. Similarly, the transformation of a former porch into a space for the laundry, main bath, and closet was a strategic move that significantly enhanced the home’s functionality without detracting from its historical integrity.

Inside, Abi’s contemporary style shines through, offering a striking contrast to the home’s external historic charm. His decision to preserve the original fireplace mantels was a nod to the home’s past, seamlessly integrating it with the modern and sophisticated interior design choices that define the space now. Witnessing Abi’s reaction to the culmination of this project has been incredibly rewarding. His enthusiasm and satisfaction with the interior selections are palpable, and it’s clear that this renovation has not only transformed a house into a home but has also brought immense joy and pride to its owner.

This project was a beautiful blend of history and modernity, challenging and rewarding in equal measure. It stands as a testament to what can be achieved when passion, expertise, and respect for history come together in the creation of a space that truly feels like home.”

If you’re interested in renting Narayani:


A Few Details and Follow-ups:

Abi, the homeowner, focused on transforming a dilapidated 1909 residence in Raleigh, NC, into a contemporary Airbnb property. Highlights of the discussion include:

  • Abi acquired the property, which was in a state of severe disrepair and previously owned by a single family, with the intention of converting it into a modern Airbnb. This project encountered significant delays due to contractor issues which led him to Glasgow Design Build and Abi’s meticulous approach, extending the renovation beyond the initial three-month estimate.
  • The renovation involved a complete overhaul of the home’s interior to introduce an open floor plan while retaining key historical elements such as the original fireplace. Abi made a point of sourcing upscale, minimalist finishes from small-scale suppliers to infuse the space with a serene aesthetic.
  • Midge, who assisted in preparing the listing, is optimistic about the property’s market potential. She cites its excellent location and the appeal of its beautifully designed kitchen and spacious layout. She draws parallels with another nearby property that gradually became popular, anticipating a similar outcome once positive reviews start accumulating.
  • After the exhaustive renovation effort, Abi has decided against making any further modifications to the property for the time being. He also shared the thoughtful reasoning behind choosing “Narayani” as the name, inspired by the nurturing and protective qualities associated with a mother goddess figure from Eastern spirituality.
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