Restoration to Transformation
Two ways to reimagine home
By Christine Hennessey Photos by David Dietrich Photography
A home is meant to be a solid, permanent thing. Strong and sturdy, made from concrete, brick, wood and glass, they’re built to last, passed down from one family to the next, silently bearing witness to our dramas and dreams.
But, much like the people who live inside them, houses can also change and shift. They require constant upkeep and occasional updates, whether it’s old wiring that has to be replaced or a shag carpet from the 70s that’s seen better days. A growing family can stretch a house to its limits, while style can evolve with new owners or in new decades.
When a home isn’t serving its current owners, the answer isn’t always to buy or build a new one. Sometimes, it’s better to fix what you have—preferably with the help of local architects, builders and interior designers, of which the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau has plenty. Whether you’re considering a complete transformation or a thoughtful renovation, the following two homes offer inspiration, imagination and motivation.
A Total Transformation
Harris Custom Builders
828.743.3172 ext. 201, www.rusticks.com
When Chucki and Curt Bradbury of Little Rock, AR, bought their mountain home in Cashiers, it was a little rough around the edges. The home was originally built in the 1980s and had not been updated since. “It was a one story, two-bedroom house,” says Parker Platt, architect and president at PLATT, a full-service architecture, construction, and interior design firm located in Brevard, NC that prides itself on connecting families to the beautiful world of western North Carolina. “PLATT was brought in to help transform their house into a warm, welcoming and bright home for an expanding family.”
The house was located on a beautiful lot with a picturesque pond and a small guest house. The Bradburys wanted to expand the main house’s footprint, adding two additional bedrooms and a number of other updates to make it lighter and brighter and provide a more modern feel.
The first thing PLATT tackled was the guest house, a one-room house with a sitting area and a kitchenette that the Bradburys referred to as “The Love Shack.” The benefit of beginning there was that the couple could live in the guest house while their main home, which they gave the more stately moniker “Mountain Abbey,” was essentially gutted. “This wasn’t just a renovation,” Platt says. “It was a total transformation.”
That renovation included building three new bedroom suites in the house, as well as refreshing the interior finishes. “It’s an eclectic mix of styles,” Platt says. “A nice balance of transitional and contemporary, with casual mountain elements.”
Pre-renovation, the house was all wood, with dark ceilings and wood paneling on the walls. To make it lighter and brighter, PLATT introduced dormer windows and skylights, including a large skylight over the middle of the kitchen, to bring in more natural light. They also installed large, oversized windows, placed strategically to open things up and take advantage of the beautiful views.
One of the most striking additions of the renovation are the ceilings. “They’re our all-time favorite feature,” Platt says. “The ceilings are brushed hemlock. Originally weathered barn boards, they’ve been brushed to freshen the face while maintaining the aged patina. And the timbers are reclaimed Douglas fir.” This combination of old wood brings a distinct warmth to the home, while adding just the right amount of rustic beauty to the space.
Of course, a house isn’t truly a home until the owners put their own spin on it, and the Bradburys had the perfect way to do just that. “They’re art collectors,” Platt says, “and they have a wonderful collection in their Little Rock home, which they expanded to this house. As part of the renovation, they worked with Ann Sherrill of Rusticks to incorporate new furniture and these very interesting, contemporary art pieces throughout the house.”
The final result is a mountain retreat that truly reflects the Bradburys, a place where they can relax with their family and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings, inside and out.
A Historic Restoration
Keystone Kitchen & Bath
Established in Cashiers in 2005, Chinquapin Builders is known throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains for creating custom homes with unique designs that blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings. “We always strive to build great relationships with our clients,” says Scott Westendorf, owner and general contractor at Chinquapin Builders. “If you take care of people, they’ll take care of you.”
Chinquapin’s projects, while guided by their clients’ vision, center on rustic elegance, modern function and timeless beauty. All three can be found in this Highlands renovation.
“The house was built in 1906, one of the earliest homes in Highlands,” says Westendorf. When the homeowners enlisted Chinquapin for their kitchen renovation, their goal was to bring the room up to today’s standards, while still keeping its historic charm and preserving its history. “The goal was to give them an updated kitchen where everything is new, yet make sure it still feels like you’re in an old historic home.”
The first part of the renovation was strictly structural. “Over the years, the foundation has settled, and the old floor system in the kitchen was sagging two inches lower than the rest of the house,” Westendorf says. Because the whole house had settled to that level, they couldn’t raise the floors up. Instead, they had to add additional supports and columns to accommodate where the house had, in Westendorf’s words, “lovingly settled.”
Once the area was structurally sound, the real fun began. Westendorf’s team focused on materials and features that would preserve the farmhouse-style of the kitchen, incorporating custom wood mouldings and trim, white cabinetry, and dark gray stone floors that were imported from Europe to achieve the look and feel of a historic manor (minus the modern appliances). “We also added a breakfast area that has a large, thick wood cased opening that’s integrated into bookshelves and cabinets for extra storage,” Westendorf says. “When you walk from the kitchen into the breakfast area, and from the breakfast area into the rest of the house, it all has a similar look and feel that flows seamlessly.”
This seamless flow is also aided from an architectural standpoint. “We took a lot of care to match the finishing on the outside of the house,” Westendorf says. “We used custom moldings to match existing moldings, as well as custom mixing colors to get the new exterior to match the old.”
One of the most striking features of historic homes are their leaded glass windows which, while beautiful, leave something to be desired when it comes to energy efficiency. “We ordered new windows for the kitchen with leaded inserts in a diamond pattern,” Westendorf says. “That way, the homeowners would have updated modern windows that were properly insulated, but could keep the same character of the original windows.”
By incorporating elements of the original home into the newly renovated kitchen and breakfast area, Chinquapin Builders was able to create a fresh, clean space that fulfilled their clients’ needs without compromising their home’s history. “Renovation isn’t just about ripping and replacing,” Westendorf says. “It can also be about restoring a home to its original glory.”