Pretty but comfortable interiors grace this North Carolina summer home
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 design: 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 
Photography: Emily Followill
Produced by Lisa Mowry
Comfortable seating was a must-have for the summer house that hosts frequent guests, so designerJune Price selected plush-backed armchairs and a rolled-arm sofa from Charles Stewart. A bench covered in an oversized plaid is easy to move where needed for conversations. The tree painting in the center of a wall arrangement is by Harry Stewart from Stellers Gallery in Jacksonville, Florida. The two smaller landscapes (top and bottom) are by Dawne Raulet from Huff Harrington Fine Art in Atlanta.
One of Nancy’s oil paintings hangs above the stone fireplace. Leather wing chairs are from Holland & Company.
A rustic ladder propped next to the fireplace displays throws.
The pumpkin-colored antique table (originally used for shucking oysters) complements the green-gold wood wall. The mirror is made from an old window.
The dining room’s French doors and windows are draped with a Lee Jofa linen in an ikat design. The dining table is a French antique and seats up to 12 people when the leaves are extended.
Antique tin containers used to dispense spices were converted into lamps that flank a sculpture on an 18th-century French buffet in the dining room.
The kitchen’s custom cabinets with furniture-style details were painted green-gold, and the finish was distressed. Barstools with turned legs and leather seats are from MacRae. Antique glass cloches were converted into light fixtures that are suspended above the island on thick ropes.
Cabinet doors with wire fronts were backed with shirred fabric for a French country style in the butler’s pantry. “Nancy is a Francophile,” says Price.
A crackle-finish four-poster from the Grizzel & Mann showroom in Atlanta is draped with sheers from Rose Tarlow. “This master bedroom is my favorite of all the houses I’ve done,” Nancy says. “It’s very restful.”
A French walnut chair, originally used in the Crane House on Jekyll Island, graces the desk that serves as both bedside table and writing desk in the master bedroom.
Nancy found the dresser in the master bedroom sitting area at an antiques market; locally grown dahlias are displayed “mountain style” in a simple metal can. A velvet in a polka-dot pattern on the ottoman adds a lively punch. (See a close-up of the fabric on the next slide.)
A good look at the master bedroom’s ottoman. “That fabric is definitely a nod to a more transitional-to-modern style,” says Price.
In the master bathroom, a stone tub backsplash was cut to resemble a furniture backboard, says Price. “It’s a spa tub, but we don’t treat it like a spa tub. We wanted it to be plain and simple to go with the country feel of the house.”
A lavender toile fabric from Zoffany was paired with fresh “Sour Apple” green paint from Benjamin Moore for a “girly” but sophisticated room for the Races’ daughter, Natalie. A tailored ottoman and armchair make for a cozy and private sitting area. This lower-level bedroom has French doors to a large deck furnished with apple-green-painted Adirondack chairs, a porch swing, and a Ping-Pong table that is rolled out for family tournaments.
The front porch on the left side of the house goes to the pantry and is the family’s primary entrance. The porch on the right opens to the foyer and living room. Plantings line the stone walks.
With views like this, is it any wonder Nancy Race took up painting?
Nancy and Kevin Race and their son Aaron with Penny, the Boykin spaniel, on the back porch.