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This article first appeared in the PB February 2010 issue of Pro Builder.

An open living pavilion connects seamlessly with an
outdoor living room, wrapped in glass, that offers unobstructed views of the surrounding woods.

It’s not often that a single home wins five major Best in American Living Awards. In 2009, the Neathermead residence in Asheville, N.C., was not only deemed worthy of BALA’s highest honor, Home of the Year, but also Best in Middle Atlantic Region, plus interior-design and overall custom-home awards. What caught the attention of the BALA judges wasn’t glitz, flash or even size (at 4,160 square feet, the home is neither a cottage nor a sprawling mansion). Instead, they praised its livability, warmth, superb details and workmanship, simplicity of form and open living areas.

In fact, the Neathermead residence exemplifies a number of design trends identified by the 2009 BALA jury:

  • It’s a modern design tempered by traditional materials. While appropriate for North Carolina, it wouldn’t be out of place elsewhere in the United States.
  • It’s beautifully detailed, with a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces.
  • It’s a harmonious marriage of sustainability and high-quality architectural design.
  • Its simple geometric forms and uncluttered interiors have widespread appeal for home buyers.

Funky but fitting

THE HOME HAS A QUIET, dignified presence with
its simple massing and roof forms. Cypress siding
complements a standing-seam metal roof.

In this particular community, architect Rob Carlton of Carlton Architecture, Asheville, N.C., was subject to the guidelines of a design review committee.

“The committee’s biggest concern was that, on the street side, [the home] be compatible with the overall image of the community,” says Carlton. “At the rear of the property, we were more interpretive of some of the topographic and environmental influences.” The lot, which is approximately 1.25 acres, is very deep and opens to what will probably remain an undeveloped tract.

The clients, a semi-retired couple whose primary home is in Charleston, S.C., didn’t have many preconceived notions. “They gave us a lot of creative freedom,” Carlton recalls. “She wanted, in her words, 'something funky.’ It inspired us to take what is commonly a more rustic style and modernize it. But it’s not cold modern; it’s very warm.”

Carlton designed a colonial front elevation with “a more modern aesthetic — a little more spartan and clean of line. As the house unfolds to the rear, it lends itself to being more relaxed in its architecture.” To put it another way, the home has “one foot in contemporary and one foot in traditional. The material palette keeps it from being over-the-top modern.”

Natural glow

Contemporary touches such as this floating stairway are balanced by warm wood finishes on the walls, ceilings and floors. In the foyer, doors to the elevator and closets are hidden so as not to detract from the client’s art displays.

The clients’ desire for connectivity to the outdoors inspired Carlton to design a great room — or pavilion, as he calls it — with windows on three sides. The pavilion flows into an outdoor kitchen/dining/living area.

“To make the concept complete, we needed to pull the roof form away from the larger, two-story portion of the house that’s on the street side,” Carlton says.

He adds that the pavilion has “a wonderful sort of natural glow, when you take the marriage of the natural light and honey-colored wood tones on the interior walls. The connection to the view outside is effective because of the way we were able to bring the glass directly to the roof structure. It’s a very light and delicate sort of assembly.”

The open framing was a challenge for the builder to execute. Since it couldn’t be hidden behind drywall or paneling, the work had to be perfect, says Jack Schneider of Cardinal Building, Brevard, N.C.: “I think we used 1,200 bolts to bolt all the framing together, then painted it.”

Carlton and Schneider praise the Asheville-based trade contractors and craftspeople that used local materials to give the home its unique look. Perhaps the ultimate compliment for the entire team is that the clients are thinking about making it their primary residence.


Project Name: Neathermead Residence

Location: Asheville, N.C.

Designer/Architect: Carlton Architecture, Asheville

Builder: Cardinal Building, Brevard, N.C.

Interior Designer: Alchemy Design, Asheville

Developer: Biltmore Farms, Asheville

Photographer: David Dietrich Photography, Fletcher, N.C.

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