Glamping redefines camping- these designers redefine glamping
By: Brittany Conley
Photos by Chris Little Photography
In August, the Cashiers Historical Society unveiled its annual Cashiers Designer Showhouse, their signature fundraising event. Traditionally, several of the region’s best designers take over a local home, each responsible for designing a specific room. But, with the pandemic still lingering and without a house due to a booming real estate market, the Cashiers Historical Society reimagined the entire event to maximize both entertainment and safety. So how might one tour the work of interior designers while remaining outdoors? With their infinitely vivid imaginations and no shortage of determination, this year’s designers accepted the challenge to marry form and function inside the canvas walls of a glamping tent—six glamping tents provided by the legendary Diamond Brand Gear. While no two designs were alike, they all had something in common: they all took glam to the next level.
Tori Alexander, Alexander Interiors
One could almost hear the lively conversation between daughter, mother and grandmother lounging about this garden-inspired tent. This nod to different generations was intentional by designer Tori Alexander, who said she wanted to accomplish something reminiscent of the High Hampton renovation, a long-standing tradition for generations of families who have vacationed here. “Because that’s how I see people enjoying Highlands. They’re here with their grandparents and children,” says Ms. Alexander.
This story of setting strong local roots is exactly what Ms. Alexander hoped to tell with her work. “My family has a house in Highlands, and we spend as much time here as possible,” she said, adding she hopes to work with more clients in the Highlands-Cashiers area she loves so much.
Melanie Couch & Nancy Dyleski, Spruce Interiors
Rethinking the use of their tent was paramount for designers Melanie Couch and Nancy Dyleski. “We felt it was important to look past how one initially thinks to use a tent,” says Couch. Everything about the design whispers promises of relaxation, starting with the landscaping. A dreamy path of lush plants, moss and stone draws you into a space replete with touches of the designers’ love of nature and the Scottish Highlands, notably with swaths of tartan draped from the ceiling and walls, encapsulating a seating area and bar instead of a bed. “After a year of social distancing, our space invites people to gather and connect...to celebrate all the beauty the plateau has to offer,” says Couch.
Douglas Hilton, DWH Interiors
The concept of glamping might feel new, but everything has a history. Designer Douglas Hilton had a lot of fun exploring what a nomadic life may have looked like for someone as glamorous as Marie Antoinette. Modeling his tent as an office fit for a queen on safari, it was only natural to showcase decadent velvets and an array of eclectic souvenirs, from Parisian photography, Yoruba sculpture, Moroccan artwork and an 18th century-design Spanish Colonial desk for all of Marie's important correspondence. There is a huge transcontinental tale unfolding in a small space.
“This has been an incredible experience,” says Hilton, a long-time participant in the annual event who falls more in love with the plateau year after year.
Holly Laughridge, Old Edwards Inn & Acorns Boutique
Despite the world quarantining for the last year and a half, it can still be hectic sometimes. Designer Holly Laughridge wanted to slow things down and create a haven for those seeking respite from the everyday hustle and bustle. “All the colors are soft and flowing, nothing too bold,” says Laughridge, “and I have two chaise lounges that are velvety...you just want to grab a blanket, a book and a glass of wine and rest.”
The gentle palette allows the mind to drift, and it is easy to imagine lazing atop a chaise, sipping a chardonnay and catching up with an old friend, laughter mingling with the surrounding symphony of nature.
Parker Platt & Katie P. Jackson, PLATT
First-timers to the event, architect Parker Platt and designer Katie P. Jackson didn’t just think outside the box; they thought outside the tent. “Getting our minds around the small scale of it was a little [challenging], so we solved that by expanding the liveable space outside of the tent,” says Platt, who believes this was a great year to join the Showhouse.
They created a luxurious sleeping area and bar inside the tent, transformed their platform into a spacious outdoor kitchen and dining area, then expanded to a ground-level gathering spot with a fire pit and several incredible examples from their PLATT HOME collection. “This is how we like to create experiences for people,” says Jackson, “to have the full environment to enjoy family and friends.”
Susan Peace-Vernon, Tribus
Texture and color took center stage in designer Susan Peace-Vernon’s tent. A pair of teak Adirondack chairs invite laid-back conversation on the porch. It’s when you step inside the tent, however, that one truly appreciates the splendor of Ms. Peace-Vernon’s imagination. An oversized rattan chandelier placed prominently above the swinging bed tethered to the tent’s frame proves a small space can be big on design, and the vibrant Turkish rug which ties everything together leaves no room for doubt that to enjoy the great outdoors does not require sacrificing luxury.
The most amazing thing about visiting each of these glamping tents wasn’t the impeccable fabrics and artwork, nor even the knowledge these designers worked through periods of torrential rain to bring their visions to fruition. The true magic trick each of them performed was providing serenity amid a time that’s been anything but serene. To inspire a natural spirit of gathering, of kinship, when we’ve spent so long purposefully distanced. In their own unique way, each designer used their talent to remind us of the best parts of the past and give hope to a future filled with beautiful memories. Which is, I suppose, the ultimate purpose of a well-designed space.
Regardless, if you’re ready for glamping, whatever room you have in mind, if you are interested in working with one of these fabulous designers, be sure to check them out online and follow them across social media. And if you are excited to go glamping, Diamond Brand Gear is delighted to outfit you with the most incredible canvas tents on the market.
To learn more about the 24th annual Cashiers Designer Showhouse, take virtual tours of the tents, listen to designer interviews and watch panel discussions on style and stewardship, purchase a virtual ticket at www.cashiershistoricalsociety.org.
Highlands, NC and Nashville, TN
Melanie Couch & Nancy Dyleski
Old Edwards Inn & Acorns Boutique
Parker Platt & Katie P. Jackson
Cashiers, NC and Greenville, SC
Diamond Brand Gear