Where We Live: Chapel Hill couple maximizes small Wrightsville property, creating modern beach cottage

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WILMINGTON — Chapel Hill residents Alain Laederach and Silvia Ramos decided after staying in several hotels and Air B&B’s in the Wrightsville Beach area that it was time to buy a home in one of their most frequented vacation spots.

A bike ride in the area later took the married couple down Allens Lane, where they came across a “for sale” sign on the small plot of land that is now their property at 1932 Allens Lane in Wilmington. The couple recently invited Port City Daily to take a tour of the modern beach cottage. It’s the latest feature in “Where We Live.”

Located on a heavily wooded, 30-feet by 25-feet piece of property, they knew going into the project there would be challenges. So Alain Laederach enlisted his father, Jean-Christophe Laederach — a retired architect and Swiss National who now lives in France — to have a hand in the design of the vacation cottage.

A family project

The home has a lot of sentimental value for the couple, said Alain Laederach, who is also originally from Switzerland.

“This house has a lot of meaning to us because it was a great family project with my dad and it brought our families closer,” he said. “My dad really participated a lot in the construction and in supervision of the project. And being able to do that with your dad and wife, and with your mom — it was a really neat project — to do it as a family thing as opposed to just another house.”

Alain Laederach and Silvia Ramos found a small property on Allens Lane while biking in Wrightsville Beach. After breaking ground and construction, they now call the home their weekend getaway.
Alain Laederach and Silvia Ramos found a small property on Allens Lane while biking in Wrightsville Beach. After breaking ground and construction, they now call the home their weekend getaway. (Photos by Christina Haley)

The home was the first and only house JC Laederach has built in the United States. But, Alain Laederach said his father was up for the challenge. After several Skype calls and working with some of the obstacles in learning United States’ building codes, the vision for JC Laederach’s design came into fruition.

“For him, being retired, I think it was a fantastic challenge to have to learn about the building codes in the United States. He may have actually had more fun with it than we did,” Alain Laederach said.

JC Laederach was able to design a home that fit well on the small plot of land and included everything the couple had wanted. The couple broke ground on their new home in September 2014, and in May 2015, construction was complete. JC Laederach kept an eye on the project, while Alain’s mother, Michele Laederach, provided much support for the family during the process.

In the end, the two-story build has a modern European-like style, with geometric accents, both outside and inside the home. At just over 1,000-sq. ft., the house includes two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a spacious living area, an elevator, plenty of patio space, an outdoor shower and small shed.

Wooden geometric shelving at the top of the staircase, follows the pattern of this unique modern-style home. (Photo by Christina Haley.)
Wooden geometric shelving at the top of the staircase, follows the pattern of this unique modern-style home. (Photo by Christina Haley)

The master bedroom and guest bedroom are nestled on the bottom floor, each with a built-in desk and unique closet space. Also included on the main floor is a half-bathroom and laundry area. Leading up to the second floor, there’s the option to take a walk up an open staircase or to ride a small elevator.

“We went up two stories. And of course, because we went up two stories, I’m physically disabled, and so we had to put in an elevator, as well. And the staircase is actually designed for me to be able to climb it as well, if the elevator breaks,” Alain Leaderach said. “So that was another limitation, is that how are you going to build a house that is going to be somewhat accessible. It works really well for me in that sense and my dad was aware of that.”

By looking at the floors of the second floor, one would hardly notice the elevator was there. The elevator actually lifts a section of hardwood floor, that almost fits seamlessly with the rest of the flooring when the elevator is not in use.

Another interesting feature of the house is the geometric wooden shelving located between the living room and the top of the staircase. On it rests family photographs and other knickknacks. The wood of the shelving matches the staircase and fits with the overall wood-structured design inside the house.

Screened by woods

And then there’s the outdoor patio area, which leads out from the living room and kitchen and overlooks a vast wooded space, as well as a sprawling live oak tree that’s hundreds of years old.

The back of the home is lined with patio space, and includes an outdoor shower and shed.
The back of the home is lined with patio space, and includes an outdoor shower and shed.

“The amazing thing about it is, we’re kind of in a forest here. And the other thing that made us fall in love with this location is the oak tree. It really is one of those traditional oaks,” Alain Laederach said. “And … we’re behind Lumina and yet we are behind the woods. There aren’t many places like that.”

The Allens Lane house is almost like a second home for the couple, who travel to the area frequently. 

“It basically fits our needs and it looks kind of cool at the same time,” Alain Laederach said.

“It was an interesting project,” Ramos said, adding that, in the house, they envisioned something “practical,” other than the normal grand beach home; something that would be efficient and had a smaller foot-print.

Originally from Brazil, Ramos has always had a love for the beach. The cottage is in close proximity to the Wrightsville Beach area. In just a 2-hour-and-15 minute drive from Chapel Hill to Wrighsville Beach, the couple has access to biking trails, can bike to the beach, or walk to all the business at Lumina Station.

A large Live Oak tree in the back was just one of many features that attracted Laederach and Ramos to the Allens Lane property.
A large Live Oak tree in the back was just one of many features that attracted Laederach and Ramos to the Allens Lane property.

Alain Laederach a biology professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and Ramos, who works in UNC’s Bio-Chemistry Department, still have some years left in their careers. But the home is in their sights for retirement.

“I think that’s the plan. We just love the beach so much and love this area so much that we think this would be a great place to retire to as well, in the long-term,” Alain Laederach said. “And the other thing that attracted us to Wilmington was the fact that it’s not just a beach town, there’s a city here too, with a lot of arts. We love going to the music on Market, on Saturdays. We like going to Thalian Hall — they have all these nice shows. We like all the restaurants in Wilmington, as well.”

For more information about the project, check out builder Pamela Fasse of Fasse bldgs. online, or visit the property website.

Take a video tour of the property:

Where We Live is a weekly feature looking at the homes and unique places to stay in the Cape Fear Region. Do you have a home, on or off the market, that our readers may be interested in seeing? Let us know at PCD@localvoicemedia.com.