Small Wonder

from Decorating
This cozy cottage combines old and new decorating ideas to make good use of space. Try some of these home décor ideas in your own personal hideaway.

Nestled amid magnolias, rhododendrons, and hickory trees is Sam and Glenda Greeson’s green board-and-batten cottage, which derives its architecture from the past but is very much designed for living in the present.
The Greesons had long loved Blowing Rock in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a town where holidays are celebrated with parades and locals gather just to talk, a town with a sense of place “that doesn’t exist in most summer resorts and golf communities,” Sam says. They purchased an empty lot that, although tucked away in the woods, is close to fine shops and restaurants.

An architect based in Charlotte, Sam specializes in new houses, but this was the first one he designed for himself. He and Glenda, a manager in a real estate office, were used to buying old houses and remodeling them.

He was also used to designing big, but this is a 1,500-square-foot hideaway that evokes a cottage in the Cotswolds area of England where the couple once stayed. It is even named Windy Ridge after that house. Still, it has an array of more
subliminal architectural references, from the seafarers’ sturdy wooden dwellings of Nantucket to the Gothic gabled houses so popular in the 19th century. “The design really just popped into my head,” Sam says.

It’s a simple house, with a single main-level living space that opens onto a kitchen, and two bedrooms upstairs. The most formal aspect of the design is an entry hall divided from the living room by custom wrought-iron grilles. For the decor, the Greesons didn’t want the dark rustic style typical of a mountain house, preferring the lighter look of a summer cottage. This proved a tricky proposition, however, as they didn’t want a beach-house look either—thus the basic palette of white and black, with accents of green and red (two hues more commonly associated with the mountains), plus pink to lighten things up.

“It is certainly a cliché to say that every room needs some black,” Sam says, “but I feel it is true, and I might even say every room needs a lot of black.” A serene color scheme with black accents and a “good mix” of furniture and art is timeless, he says.

To achieve the right mix, Sam created a furniture plan, a tool he also uses with his architecture clients. “I need to see a layout so I can plan the location of the windows and the doors to adjacent spaces,” he says. “A lot of time is spent making sure a room will work well when it is furnished. Architects are famous for having no place for the bed.” In the Greesons’ small mountain home, they wanted a close-knit atmosphere without a lot of clutter. “To accommodate larger-scale entertaining, you need to create a series of cozy spaces within one large, open space,” Sam explains of the furniture groupings in the living room. “This is why it is important for all the furniture to be perfect in scale and style.”

For Windy Ridge, the perfect furnishings turned out to be a range of eclectic pieces, from serious antiques to flea-market finds and even catalog items. In the dining room, a Biedermeier table in curly maple dates from the early 18th century. Wicker and distressed-wood furniture—most of it contemporary but intended to seem older—reinforces the cottagelike feel of both the living room and the porch, where Sam and Glenda while away many hours morning and evening.

The joy of living small took both of them by surprise, as the houses they have owned in Charlotte have been much larger and Sam’s clients generally want to go big. “It is amazing how many of my former clients visit our home and wonder why their houses are so large when they find ours so appealing,” he says. “It really is hard to convince most people that small can be better.”

Switches For The Seasons
Sam and Glenda Greeson’s mountain home is their year-round weekend getaway. So the decor rotates to reflect the changing climate. There are plush red pillow covers for fall and winter, and sage green and cream silk versions for spring and summer. Gauzy sheer curtains let in the sunlight during winter, and lined silk draperies block harsh rays during summer.
To make each season bright in your home, try these tips:
  • In autumn, lay cozy area rugs over wood floors. Pull them up in summer to lighten the look.
  • Slipcover sofas or chairs with velvet or chenille fabric in rich hues for the cooler months, then swap them out for white denim or a colorful cotton duck for summer.
  • Add warmly layered duvets, blankets, and throws to beds in fall and winter, but lighten to a thin cotton bedspread or down blanket in spring and summer.
  • Use white or cream towels during hot months; choose earthy spice tones during winter.
  • Pull out formal china and ruddy earthenware for fall, then switch to whimsical casual dinnerware and
    barware for summer.

More On Topic

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