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Charles Faudree's Country Cabin
Charles Faudree’s country cabin wasn’t born with charm; he just made it seem that way
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Interior designer Charles Faudree made repeated but futile attempts to get one of his friends to buy this cabin, set beside Spring Creek in a rural woodland 45 minutes outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, three years ago, the cabin had the unfortunate moniker “the no-tell motel,” thusly named by the neighbors forced to look at its most uncharming façade. Guests visiting Charles at his own weekend house just down the way had expressed a desire to have their own scenic retreat, so when the “motel” came on the market, the phrase “location, location, location” rang in Faudree’s head. “It has views from every room,” he says. “It’s the best spot on the creek.”
But when his friends saw the house from which they were to view the creek, they turned tail. “The cabin was so hopeless,” says Charles. “They were all grossed-out by it.” The original structure was a three-room log cabin, one of many hunting-and-fishing cabins built along the creek in the 1920s. A previous owner had added on to the cabin, and added on again (four times total), by tacking new rooms onto prior additions. “It was so long and ugly,” says Charles. “You had to walk through every room to get to every other room.” Every ceiling had a popcorn-textured coating. There was a kitchen at each end of the house. There was no front door.
One day, he showed it to a friend who seemed interested. Charles explained how she could punch through one of the four bedrooms to make a front door and a grand foyer. She said that would work for her. Then Charles though to himself, “Wham! This would work for me. What am I doing, trying to sell this to someone else?” He talked to the Realtor the next day.
An antique French garden table with a limestone top occupies the foyer, formerly a bedroom.
Interior design: Charles Faudree
Photography: Jenifer Jordan
Regional contributor: Nancy Ingram
The thing is, Charles didn’t need a new weekend house. His little cabin nearby was so exquisitely rustic, it graced the cover of Traditional Home magazine’s 2000 holiday issue. The small space, however, accommodated only eight guests at a time. Over the years, he had taken to entertaining less in town and more in the country. He wanted more space, especially for the holidays—his favorite time of year. At 2,500 square feet, the “motel” could easily hold 50 people for a party.
He struck a deal to buy the place, and a year-long renovation ensued. Charles aspired to marry the contemporary additions—which he planned to decorate in a light and airy Swedish style—to the original, primitive log cabin, while making the whole structure look like it has a natural right to be in those pristine woods.
Aas Charles had suggested to his old friend, structural changes to the cabin included turning one bedroom into a foyer. It’s newly installed fireplace is a welcome sign on winter days. Charles used white-washed, 10-inch-wide pine plank flooring in the foyer and throughout the additions to harmonize a mishmash of old carpet and Mexican tiles. A Louis XV painted mantel gives an architectural frame to upholstered walls. The wall fabric, printed to look like painted canvas, is repeated on the pair of wing chairs near the fireplace in the big room. When dinner guests overflow the big room, four can dine comfortably at the foyer’s iron-base garden table.
Above the mantel, a garland of greens, fresh eucalyptus, berries, and miniature apples and pears surrounds a child’s portrait from the Louis XV period.
Blue "Big Room"
A room with a vaulted ceiling along the back of the house offered plenty of space for his traditional 12-foot Christmas tree—a holiday wonder of several hundred antique and reproduction Victorian glass ornaments nestled among beaded garlands and twinkling lights.
Maximizing views was key. In the blue-and-white “big room,” the designer bumped the wall out 10 feet and installed four floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows, making the room look as though it’s cantilevered over the water. “When you walk into that room, you just see the floor and then the water. It’s breathtaking,” he says.
Only a rafters-high Christmas tree could compete with the “big room’s” 18th-century Belgian Verdure tapestry. Nicholas, a cavalier King Charles spaniel, and the cabin’s top dog, remains unimpressed.
The cabin’s overall light and loft design is a switch for Charles, whose former cabin had a lot to do with the change. “The new part of the house was a contemporary monster,” he says. “I was trying to make it work.” The big room’s mantelpiece and side cupboards, Paris flea-market finds, were Charles’s first purchases for the house and inspired him to inject Swedish influences into his beloved French country style. Curvy French pieces and a multitude of collections—antique violins and Staffordshire figures, to name two—easily share space with Swedish-influenced blue-and-white checks and stripes and antique painted wood. “There’s certainly an overlap between the two styles,” he says.
What the two styles have in common, besides painted wood, is a casual air that invites leisure, which is exactly what Charles wants in a weekend retreat. He leaves work at noon every Friday and heads to the cabin for a couple days of eating, reading, and working jigsaw puzzles.
Designer Charles Faudree replaced a stone fireplace with a Louis XVI mantelpiece and matching side cupboards. The focus of the mantel’s winter scene is an 18th-century, hand-carved wooden horse and carriage.
Room with a View
The 19th-century French country chaise longue in a casual ticking stripe offers fine views of Spring Creek.
A 19th-century Swedish secretary from the Gustavian period displays a French tureen and fits easily into the cabin’s country spirit.
In the added-on rooms, every rustic ceiling is artifice. Charles found it was easier to cover popcorn ceilings than scrape them clean. In the foyer, contrasting beams are laid out spoke-style over planks. In the big room, ceilings are covered by planks and false beams painted the same white as the walls. In the kitchen, fencing from Charles’s former house in town adds texture and warmth.
Wallpaper that mimics barn siding is a rustic backdrop for framed tiles and pewter pieces. Staffordshire chicken lamps, on a 19th-century pine buffet, flank a still life from the 1800s. Louis XVI chairs are covered in a small-scale country print.
Charles created his own old-world kitchen with walls of open shelving for his many collections, including Staffordshire chickens and a mixture of blue-and-white porcelain made in China, England, and Spain. The 19th-century Napoleon III tole tray features a charming winter scene.
The unique ceiling styles help blend the new spaces with the original log cabin, now the master suite. The old kitchen is the new master bathroom, and the original bathroom is a closet. After pulling up shag carpet, Charles left the surfaces largely unchanged. “I have to admit that my bedroom contradicts what I espouse for clients, that you should have continuity from room to room,” he says. “Here, you’ve gone from a light-filled Swedish house to a dark little log cabin. My original plan was to whitewash the logs. But, I lived here one winter while remodeling, and it was so warm and cozy, I thought it would be sacrilege to paint it.”
Nicholas enjoys a snooze on the grand circa-1800 Edwardian bed. Charles added the iron tester so canopy panels could hide the original log cabin’s front door, behind the headboard. Swedish checks and stripes from the rest of the house are carried into the room, but the blues are darker in deference to the log walls.
The master bedroom is an appropriate setting for a vintage portrait of a British soldier. To the right of the original stone fireplace is a toile-covered wing chair from Charles’s custom furniture line. The horn chair at left is an English antique.
The guest bathroom’s zinc tub is 18th-century French. Tulsa artist Janet Davie painted the vanity—an antique chest—in the Swedish style. The painted motifs she created echo the curves within the blue squirrel-print wallpaper.
Interior Designer Charles Faudree
“Having a cabin has changed my life. It’s my sanctuary. It’s almost spiritual,” Charles says. “I wanted to share that with my friends.” So, last year, he hosted a Christmas party for 65 friends and neighbors to show them the results of the remodeling. And they are all happy he checked into the “no-tell motel.”