Photographs by Emily Followill
Written by Amy Elbert
Produced by Lisa Mowry
An all-American red barn snuggled in the tree-covered Blue Ridge Mountains cinched the deal for Nancy and Kevin Race. The Atlanta couple were traipsing through the brush, pondering whether to build a summer home in Mountaintop, a golf-club community in western North Carolina, when they paused at a clearing overlooking a farmstead. “That barn is what sold me on this lot,” Nancy recalls.
The panoramic views stretching to Tennessee went on to inspire much of the new house’s casual, comfortable design, as well as Nancy’s artistic talents. “I recently painted that view,” she says. “I’d like to do a whole series on that barn.”
While painting is a new pursuit for Nancy (she took a beginners class just three years ago), home design has been a lifelong passion. “We have done 11 houses in our 30 years of marriage. I am a house person, and I love antiques,” Nancy says, adding (half kiddingly), “One reason I started painting was I needed to find something else to do with my creative energies.”
Knowing that it’s easier—and more fun—to work with a pro, Nancy turned for advice to June Price, an Atlanta interior designer who helped with the family’s Atlanta house. Price and the Races first selected a floor plan from options presented by the developer.
The house is built on a slope, so while it looks like a modest bungalow from the front, it has three levels and five bedrooms. With the boys’ quarters on the top floor, there’s plenty of room for the Races’ three adult children (Adam and Natalie in graduate school and Aaron, soon to be a college freshman) and for overnight guests.
Exterior features include rustic bark siding, rough-hewn beams, Dutch doors, and flagstone walkways edged by native plants, giving the house a cottage style that blends comfortably with the wooded mountain setting.
“For the interiors, Nancy wanted pretty but comfortable,” Price says. “Those were our marching orders.” And because the Races live in the house primarily in the summer, the emphasis was on keeping spaces fresh and light. “I didn’t want a typical mountain home with antlers on the wall,” Nancy says. “I love color.”
Nancy and Price divided duties, with the designer looking for upholstered pieces and fabrics. In the meantime, Nancy combed antiques shops in Atlanta, rural North Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia, for one-of-a-kind furnishings. “I tend to buy things early and then work around them,” Nancy says. The duo’s separate pursuits came together in the house’s color scheme after Nancy bought an antique Oushak rug in delicious hues of butterscotch gold and a mélange of greens and rusty reds.
“The fabrics for the upholstery and draperies, as well as the paint color for the kitchen cabinets, all started with the rug,” the designer says. Ironically, the Oushak is no longer in the house. Nancy moved it to her primary residence in Atlanta so she could enjoy it year-round. Nevertheless, the rug inspired a palette that unifies the mountain home and infuses the spaces with warmth.
Horizontal wood-plank walls throughout the house are painted in varying shades of green-gold that are drawn directly from the rug. “The wood walls and wood ceilings give warmth and texture to the rooms and add to the casualness of the home,” Price says.
In the foyer, an antique oyster table with a worn and “yummy” painted finish offers more color and textural notes. “I love the pumpkin color,” Nancy says. Oyster tables are usually copper-topped to provide a hard surface for cracking shells, but this one has a flaky painted wood finish. “I liked the rough texture of the wood top.”
Picking up on the Oushak’s green, gold, and reddish hues, Price found an ikat-patterned fabric for draperies in the living and dining rooms, a buttery yellow sofa, and two coral-red armchairs with tufted and fluted backs. Twin reclining brown leather wing chairs provide hearthside resting spots, while benches scattered around the living room are easy-to-move seating options.
The kitchen repeats the gold-green color story, with cabinets painted and distressed for a timeworn effect. Rather than installing a stainless steel refrigerator and vent hood, Price chose painted wood panels to conceal the appliances. “Because the living room, dining room, and kitchen are basically one big room, we wanted the kitchen to blend in,” she says. “We made the cabinets that lovely color and finished the room with molding and panels on the appliances to make those elements more furniture-like.”
The island was built a few inches taller than standard in order to accommodate the taller-than-average Race family. “I’m the shrimp at 5-foot-6,” Nancy says. The increased island height makes chopping easier, she explains, and allowed for the addition of a microwave and warming drawer underneath. Backless stools with turned legs and generously sized leather seats slide under the opposite side of the island for convenient seating space in the kitchen area.
In the master bedroom, the color theme takes a happy spin with apple-green-painted wood walls and a velvet polka-dot ottoman. “That’s probably my favorite piece in the house,” Price says. “It’s so cute, and it just makes the room pop.” The painted four-poster is draped with soft sheers for a hint of romance.
French doors across the home’s rear connect the master bedroom, living room, and dining room to the two-level decks and porch that together span the back of the house. The porch, adjacent to the living room, is the go-to space for hanging out. The corner deck off the dining room offers the best views of the farmstead and barn that sold Nancy on the location, and it’s the spot where she often sets up her easel to paint landscapes and still lifes.
The spaces inspire more than painting, however. The family and guests lounge on Adirondack rocking chairs and a cushioned porch swing, linger with coffee at a long picnic-style dining table, and challenge one another to Ping-Pong matches on a table on the lower deck. “We are blessed to have this house,” says Nancy. “It’s a wonderful way to spend time with friends and family.”
Interior designer: June Price, June Price Interiors, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., Studio 3, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/364-0628, junepriceinteriors.com
Builder: Peachtree Group of Atlanta, 5775 Glenridge Drive, Suite E-160, Atlanta, GA 30328; 404/851-1889, peachtree-group.com
Landscape design: Eli McCall and Tina Wilnoty, Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club, 1638 High Mountain Drive, P.O. Box 2126, Cashiers, NC 28717; 828/743-4705, mountaintopgolfclub.com