The house had a lot going for it. Situated on the mountainside off Town Mountain Road, it overlooked downtown Asheville. It was interesting: an asymmetrical roofline with a streamlined “modern chalet” sensibility and sturdy foundation. But the circa 1978 structure certainly didn’t have a truly contemporary feel.
It was, in a word…dated.
Still, the new homeowners saw tremendous potential, despite concerns like a structurally suspect back deck. They engaged Rob Carlton of Carlton Architecture and DesignBuild, Inc. to help them bring the house into the present and give it a fresh start.
“When we were redesigning the house, it was all about lifestyle. There was a lot of space, but it was poorly configured,” Carlton recalls. “Simplicity is key with houses like this —to give it a fine order.” That organization began with the façade of the house, which required a unifying element. “The scissor truss creates two different pitches. We divorced the windows from the interior ceiling and banded them together so that we could have a large window composition in the great room, have it linked in to the clearstory windows in the powder room and master bath and then tied it all in with dark panels. It reinforces the horizontality.”
At the lower level, where one enters the home, a crab orchard stone paver walkway by Hammerhead Stoneworks, inset with squares of river stone, extends into the entrance foyer through a square, pivot hinge glass door. “The entry was open to upper level, with a modest stair that went up,” notes Carlton. “We rearranged the flow and formalized the entry by removing an existing bedroom and added an elegant, modern, sculptural stair that creates a moment of welcome before you ascend up to the living level.”
At the top of the stairway, the eye is drawn to a massive, steel-supporting beam that spans the great room and gestures out to a generous deck, which is supported from below by steel columns and sheltered by a cantilevered overhang. “Because there are no visible columns on the deck itself, you get unencumbered views and a direct connection with the landscape,” says Carlton. “With this type of architectural pattern, it’s important to focus on moments of transition so that interior/exterior relationship telegraphs through as cleanly as possible.”
The choice of interior materials reinforces that relationship by presenting the elements in an authentic manner and highlighting their innate characteristics. The floors are dressed in quarter-sawn white oak. For the custom cabinetry by Architectural Woodcraft rift-sawn oak was chosen for its more linear pattern and clear coated. On the walls, rift-sawn oak panels have been given a light wash to establish a subtle, but effective distinction. Accents of European beech and alder window frames keep the structural silhouette light and airy.
Steel appears again in the kitchen backsplash and hood, and encases the kitchen island. At the opposite end of the great room, the fireplace surround is clad in steel panels that retain their mill scale, the raw result of processing, which has been given a clear powder coating to maintain small areas of surface rust that add a textural appeal.
The homeowners have furnished the residence with an emphasis on fine handwork, including several custom pieces designed by Carlton and fabricated by area craftsmen and an array of works by local artists. Among them is a commissioned piece by painter Philip DeAngelo that hangs over the credenza in the entrance foyer. It features an iconic image of the house, with its asymmetrical roofline, set in a stylized landscape — an indication, perhaps, that this resurrected structure has gone from “dated” to “timeless.”