Bringing in the outdoors


A charming porch off the kitchen is a regular place to lounge and provides natural overflow for entertaining.


by Jesma Reynolds

photographs by Catherine Nguyen

Anyone who’s gone through purchasing a home knows what a big and sometimes agonizing decision it can be. But when the current owners of this gracious property caught wind of its upcoming sale, the wife’s reaction was swift and sure. “I told our Realtor we would make an offer sight unseen.” Familiar with the house and its uniquely private setting, she knew it offered what the family of five had been seeking – a connection to the outdoors, space for entertaining, and an elegant but livable floor plan.

When she and her husband eventually saw the house, they were even more convinced that this was the one. Situated on several quiet acres inside the Beltline and adjacent to Crabtree Creek, the stately home was surrounded by a lush and established yard. The variety of trees and shrubs spoke to the wife’s love of flower arranging and gardening. And though the interior needed some updating, the bones were solid and the possbilities endless.

After a year-long renovation that entailed moving walls,  adding light to dark interiors, and creating several outdoor living rooms, the family moved into this generous space. The solid front door was replaced with a multi-paned one that is flanked by side lights and a transom. Heart pine floors on the main floor add an earthy glow. And paintings by notable North Carolina artists collected over the years lend refinement and interest.

The wife’s love of art helped determine the kitchen layout. Knowing she wanted a favorite painting by Kate Worm to define it, she worked with designer Diana Browning and builder Joel Williams to plan placement of sinks, appliances and storage. Rather than fill the walls with upper cabinets, they focused on sturdy tables and islands to anchor the space, giving it a decidedly European feel. The range of interior colors is muted and natural, inspired by the foyer’s wisteria-patterned wallpaper. “I’m drawn to a loose palette in art,” say the homeowner. That translates into a painterly composition of soft greens, watery blues, persimmons and ochres.

Entertaining is effortless no matter the season. The heated saltwater pool is a favorite for the teenage set.  Access to a bucket of bathing suits and a gathering space under a covered porch with ceiling heaters (and a flatscreen) truly makes it a four-season place. Upstairs, the ample kitchen and bar flow onto another outdoor porch that offers expansive views of the grounds, where various deciduous and evergreen specimens flourish, including rare mountain laurel shrubs that were brought by a next door neighbor from the western part of the state years ago.

Along with the natural creek below the property, several fountains create a tranquil respite. “I wanted the outdoors to come in,” says the owner.   


The dining room features two works on paper by local artist Jason Craighead.


In the living room, a painting by North Carolina artist Scott Upton reflects light and adds warmth. The homeowner says she often works at the desk here with her laptop in the morning.