This North Carolina Home is An Enchanting Winter Escape

A mountain retreat takes inspiration from the natural beauty surrounding it and dons a festive layer of winter charm in keeping with its comfortable refinement.

tin ceiling, fireplace, and white rattan furniture on close-in porch
Photography by Emily Followill

Text by Lydia Somerville

From Atlanta, a swift drive delivers architect and designer John Oetgen and his partner, branding guru John Lineweaver, to their mountain escape in Highlands, North Carolina, a popular getaway for Atlanta’s design community. “This house was built for fun,” says Oetgen. “There’s nothing serious about it.” The three-peaked structure is separated into sections, one for the kitchen and porch, the second for the living room and dining room, and the third for the master suite. “We named the home Maryjack after my parents,” says Oetgen. “We wanted it to be a casual place where we could invite friends we ran into on the hiking trail, their houseguests, and their children. We like to throw open the doors.”

cheery wreath to welcome guests at front gate
Photography by Emily Followill

During the summer months, guests gather on the porch overlooking the dramatic views. But in the winter, especially at the holidays, the house beckons with its cozy charms such as the sink-into-me furniture, the glowing wood paneling, and the rich palette. A simple Christmas tree, hung with Oetgen’s vast collection of pinecones, adds even more warmth. Issuing himself a strict no-drywall mandate, Oetgen chose paneling for the entire, evoking the timeless atmosphere of the old mountain cabins original to the region. French oak dresses up the living and dining room, while more casual pine clads the rest of the house.

Photography by Emily Followill

“When we are here, there’s a lot of cooking and cocktails, friends and dogs.” says Oetgen. In the living room, 20-foot ceilings create a sense of occasion and offer a contrast to the coziness of the seating area. “We often eat dinner in front of the fire,” Oetgen says. Adds Lineweaver, “Wherever you sit in this room, there’s something fantastic that catches your eye.” The kitchen and the porch connect through a wide door to encourage movement between the two. In addition, the kitchen’s tin ceiling carries over to the porch, further marrying the spaces.

royal blue chandelier, fur throw, and wood-paneling in master bedroom
Photography by Emily Followill

When it came to color choices, Oetgen wanted a bolder palette. “The trend is for pale fabrics in these houses, but we wanted rich colors, which are more forgiving,” says the designer. He opted for blues and greens, not only because it’s his favorite color combination, but also because of the hues in the mountain setting. “We are in the treetops, so green is a natural part of the house,” Oetgen says. “Anything else would compete.”

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