Nestled along the verdant outskirts of Cashiers, North Carolina, lies a property where, on any given day, silence is broken only by the wind rustling through Black Tupelo trees, the splash of the stream rolling past, and the occasional bark of a dog—the latter courtesy of two rescue hounds belonging to the owners. For a Charlotte-based couple who descend on these forested acres seasonally, this serene setting was what sealed the deal. “I got out of the car, listened to the sound of the water, and that was it,” the wife remembers. “It took me 30 seconds; I hadn’t even seen the inside of the house.”
The existing abode was a traditional affair with reclaimed log-and-chink siding. Yet, despite its setting at the confluence of a river headwaters and a creek, it didn’t make the most of the scenery. When architect Sam Edgens came to take a look, he sized up the U-shaped entry courtyard, the cathedral-ceilinged great room, and the rear porch overlooking the water: Liberating the views, he determined, would be key.
Steel-framed windows and doors set the tone for the down-to-the-studs renovation that followed. Although Edgens preserved the essence of the log and timber materials his clients loved, he was committed to injecting a fresh perspective. “We didn’t really want to change how the home’s exterior looked,” the architect notes. Instead, “It was all about marrying up the inside of the house with the outside—which was very rustic—and, at the same time, introducing a more updated feel.”
Edgens enclosed the front porch with glass and steel not only to establish a more inviting entrance to the home, but also to signal its unique modernity. Other spaces were similarly transformed. The dramatically reconfigured kitchen and dining room now take full advantage of wooded views through expansive windows. And at the rear of the house, the screened porch ceiling was raised to expand the watery vistas that were previously obscured. Finally, a newly added wing contains a glass-encased keeping room and powder room while, for the canine members of the family, the architect outfitted the mudroom with a dog-washing station.
The residence’s complex reconstruction necessitated new electrical and mechanical systems as well as a new roof, so Edgens placed confidence in general contractor John Lupoli—supported by project manager Scott Sloop and superintendent Chris Vanderwiele—to oversee these and more beautifying tasks. “We really leaned on John to find the best craftspeople for everything, from the reclaimed oak doors to the oversize steel kitchen hood and shelving,” the architect shares.
Joining the team once the new framing was in place, designer Teri Thomas quickly formed a close partnership with Edgens, with the two refining decisions and bouncing every idea off of each other. To unite interior and exterior, they accented larger rooms with barnwood plank paneling, then finished smaller-scale spaces using contrasting white plaster. “My intention was to have the interior highlight materials that felt appropriate for the house,” Thomas says. “Now, you walk in and say, ‘That’s different.’ But it all works together; it’s fresh and new, yet timeless.”
Thomas balanced harder-edged materials such as steel and stone with soft elements like tufted-wool entry rugs she likens to lily pads. Interspersed with custom upholstery are unexpected additions Thomas inserted “for soul,” such as antique French wooden chairs that bring coziness to the keeping room. “They are the kind of pieces that make a place feel rooted,” the designer shares. A chiefly muted palette of earth tones is punctuated by bright greens and blues, most evident in abstract artworks, but also appearing on retro dining chairs donning turquoise leather. “The pop gets your attention,” Thomas notes.
By contrast, landscape designer Jeremy Smearman’s mission was one of restraint. “Our task was to reconcile the house with the landscape,” he says. “This project was more of an exercise in what we did not do.” His team’s work encompassed clearing corridors through the judicious thinning of trees and vegetation that had grown unwieldy over the years, then thoughtfully integrating new and relocated boxwoods to give structure to the garden, also home to lovingly tended beds of vegetables and dahlias.
The homeowners say it’s the retreat they’d always dreamed of. “Our design team pushed us to think differently, not the way most people would approach a mountain house,” the husband says. And although it’s a seasonal getaway for now, the wife adds, “One day, we hope to live here permanently.”