New Home with an Old Southern Soul
Explore the 2020 Southern Living Idea House, a laid-back retreat nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
This beautiful home, located in Asheville, North Carolina, was built on land that was once part of the original farm founded in 1897 by George W. Vanderbilt.
“We wanted to design a classic summer house with a nostalgic reinterpretation of the vernacular architecture of the North Carolina mountain region,” said architect Beau Clowney to Southern Living magazine. “This mountain cottage works for modern living while incorporating the spirit of a turn-of-the century style home. It’s full of light and air with classical proportions.”
The 2020 Idea House was a collaborative effort that celebrates a variety of architectural features, a diverse flavor of design elements, and a stunning selection of building materials.
The exterior of this home is a collection of traditional elements like lap siding, recognizable roof lines covered in steel, a stone chimney, classic divided lite patterns, and open rafter tails. The interior is a mix of well-lit, warm spaces adorned and furnished with both the old and new.
“All the best houses have soul,” said Interior designer Lauren Liess to Southern Living magazine. “Interesting architectural details — like V-groove paneling, exposed wooden beams, and historically inspired doors with traditional hardware — add old-house character to a new build. Incorporating pieces that already have patina or will age well (along with a mix of new and vintage furnishings, art, and accessories) lends timelessness too.”
This home has the character of a classic family farmhouse that’s been added onto throughout the years as the resident’s needs changed and their family grew. Besides the pleasantly familiar impression the home presents, this design has other advantages.
The layout feels as if it’s a collection of separate structures connected by short passageways. While presenting a cohesive appearance on the outside, this layout provides the opportunity to create distinctive rooms inside, each with its own unique character. Also, interior spaces in buildings with a more blocky, monolithic design are often deprived of natural light, fresh air, and views of the outdoors. The multifaceted elevations on this home make it possible to install an abundance of doors and windows, which strengthens connections with the nature that surrounds it.
The living room shares an open space with the kitchen. Wood beams, a jute rug, and a blend of new/old furniture impart a comfortable aesthetic. Natural light floods through the large Marvin Signature™ Ultimate Multi-Slide Doors that lead to the screened porch. Additional light is provided through the two sitting room openings that flank both sides of the fireplace.
The top sashes that make up the bow window in this picturesque sitting room are fitted with a traditional divided lite pattern, while the lower sashes are unobscured to maximize the view. “This is a great sneak-away spot for conversation during a party,” Leiss told Southern Living magazine.
The kitchen features concrete countertops, wood floors, a lighted pot rack, and a chimney-style range hood. The rich grey cabinets contrast and compliment the white island and pantry. Like the living room, the space benefits from the natural light that pours through the multi-slide doors leading into the screened porch. The bank of windows that divides the main kitchen from the back kitchen adds some separation between the two spaces but allows light to pass through.
Near floor-to-ceiling Marvin Ultimate Picture windows surround the dining room. The sashes, frames, and mullions are all painted a shade of green that melds with the forest outside, and the absence of window treatments leaves the room with a clean aesthetic. Biophilic design, or incorporating natural elements like color, texture, pattern and organic materials, helps inhabitants feel a sense of calm.
"People choose to live in the North Carolina mountains because of the natural beauty of the surroundings here,” Leiss told Southern Living, “so I emphasized the different shades of green (which I pulled from trees and other plants) as well as the texture of the wood. I kept this space spare so all eyes would be fixed on the view.”
This galley-style kitchen benefits from plenty of counter space. And with easy access to both the deck and dining room, it functions as an effective prep area for large gatherings. The sashes on the four tall Marvin Ultimate Casement Push Out windows are green, but Leiss chose white for the jambs, mullions, and casing.
The calming effect of the wood, leather, and painted ceiling make this library the perfect place to escape and relax. Traditional Marvin Ultimate Double Hung windows are installed on three of the four walls, which evokes the impression that the room is a quaint, stand-alone cottage nestled in the mountain forest.
The aged marble tile, an elegant Japanese soaking tub, and two large Marvin Ultimate Picture windows framed in lace curtains all come together to deliver a luxurious spa-like experience.
Laundry / Mudroom
In this home, even the utilitarian rooms present an inviting atmosphere. The antique work table, vintage drying rack, and farmhouse sink give the laundry room the feel of a classic country kitchen. And the wood slab bench in the well-lit mudroom provides a great place to sit and tie your shoes, but it could also double as a cozy nook to relax and enjoy a book.
Video by Southern Living magazine
Architect: Kate Campbell and Beau Clowney, Beau Clowney Architects,
Builder: Rick Buchanan and Jason Norton, Buchanan Construction
Landscape architect: Greg Cloos, Cloos Landscape Architecture
Interior designer: Lauren Liess, Lauren Liess & Co.
See the full home tour at SouthernLiving.com.
Photos by Robbie Caponetto/Southern Living