Text: Lydia Somerville
Photos: Michael Blevins
When clients asked designer Mark Phelps and architect Matt Benson to build them a house in the mountains of Linville, North Carolina, they sought a contrast to their house in Charlotte, which Phelps had also designed. “Their house in town is dressy and formal, with lots of DeGournay wallpaper,” says Phelps. “For this house, the husband took the lead in creating a more casual, clean look. But this is not a typical mountain house. There’s not a single antler anywhere.”
Fieldstone floors throughout the house establish a firm foundation for a refined country house style. Woodwork painted in a high-gloss finish adds polish to rooms filled with comfortable upholstery and sociable arrangements. The wife weighed in on the living room’s palette of cream and apricot accents. When the retractable doors are open to the outdoors, the warm tones sing vividly against the blues and greens of the views. At night, cozy lighting and the warm fabrics glow with warmth.
Phelps, who worked for a decade at the Charlotte design studio Circa, is fluent in the layered, detailed look the firm is known for. For the staircase, he had two carpets stitched into one, reflecting the varying tones of the fieldstone floors. Antiqued mirrors throughout the house were made by Amy Smith of Blue Door Framing, lending depth to bathrooms and the bar, and amplifying the wallpaper chosen for those small spaces. He also added surprises, as in the door to the powder room, which is concealed in the paneling within the entry.
In the kitchen, Benson designed a modern version of an inglenook, framing the fireplace with beams and forming a room within a room. “With a low ceiling, a smaller scale, and floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s a place to nestle and still feel connected to the outside,” says Benson. “The house was designed to have the capacity to entertain their children and family while also being intimate enough when it’s just the two of them.”
The outdoor spaces are integral to the house, with various gathering spaces for dining, napping, and enjoying the views. A pavilion rises up two stories with a fireplace and comfortable seating. The stone floors, substantial roof, and elevation give it the feeling of a turret perched on a corner of the main house. A surprise lies beneath the house, where the husband created a climbing wall out of the exposed mountainside, taking advantage of leftover space for an adventure destination just downstairs.
With more than 8,000 square feet of space, it’s natural to expect that the house would impress more than invite. It’s no easy task to create rooms that are welcoming and warm, but with architecture and interiors designed for the client’s comfort, that’s exactly what Phelps and Benson achieved.