A Sleek Sanctuary

A sort of mini MOMA in the mountains, the Brothers/Klappenberger house proudly proclaims its originality in a relatively traditional neighborhood. The stucco and tile structure is filled with modern art, much of it from local studios. The top-line contemporary home, designed by Griffin Architects PA, looks onto Beaver Lake and allows a lone old-fashioned note: a heritage sycamore tree in the front yard. Photo by David Dietrich

The most cutting-edge house in Lakeview community isn’t a place for children — at least not every day. When they met, Dr. Carol Brothers and her future husband, Dr. Fred Klappenberger, already had five sons between them. Once the boys were grown and living on their own, “it was finally safe to get married,” she says good-humoredly. Although the couple, who are now grandparents, hosted the extended family for Thanksgiving in North Asheville — the home was finished last April — this is decidedly an empty nest, executed with high sophistication from all stakeholders.

Designed by Griffin Architects PA of Asheville, the 3,200-square-foot residence reflects Beaver Lake like a mirror. (The lake is a tranquil, urban fishing-and-boating spot next to a bird sanctuary.) Dr. Brothers, a clinical psychologist, and Dr. Klappenberger, a cyber-security expert — both semi-retired — come from Maryland. They’re city people, veteran art collectors, and this isn’t their first new build in the modern mode; Brothers describes a former Annapolis home as a “five-level treehouse.” They moved to Western North Carolina 12 years ago, and, most recently, before connecting with firm president Robert Griffin and project manager Jon Moore, plus builder Dan Hensley (DSH Construction), the couple lived in the penthouse at 12 Lexington Avenue.

But they appreciate a good view, too, and so they explored home sites in some of the area’s woodsy high-end communities. The only trouble was, design restrictions in these outer-Asheville developments called for the Mountain Modern style, meaning however sleek the home’s lines might be, rurally gestured materials such as rock and wood had to get some play on the exterior cladding.

“They insisted on stone,” says Brothers. “We did not want that.”

So they went rogue, discovering a small, unaffiliated lot for sale on the north end of Merrimon Avenue, where their house emerges boldly, the only one of its kind in the near surround. The building is geometric and industrial, but not unwelcoming. Against a background of taupe stucco is a monument of charcoal porcelain tile. Another block of tile, this one horizontal, probes through the outside wall, reappearing as a structural design element inside the great room and again in a lower study. Windows reach the 22-foot ceiling, and recessed lighting from the same elevation illuminates the interior: it amounts to a living art gallery à deux.

“We started showing [Griffin and Moore] pictures of what we wanted, and we spent many, many hours moving ideas around,” says Brothers. “We knew Robert had a fabulous reputation, but we didn’t know he did modern houses, too. Turns out that’s where he started, he loves building them, and he was thrilled to get back to his origins.”

Griffin carefully acknowledges his “many wonderful clients whose homes are neo-traditional.” However, he adds, “I have always been a closeted modernist.” A pioneer of sorts, he opened his Asheville studio in the early ’80s, and, at first, only accepted modern commissions. “I soon found myself out of work,” he admits. Through the years, though, he adapted, as did the desires of homeowners. “I recognized that [trends] are transient, while the core principles of good design can be celebrated in any style.”

Unique live-edge pavers mark the entrance to the Brothers/Klappenberger home on Beaver Lake. (Work by Matthew Martin of Appalachian Environments Landscaping.) Recessed lighting highlights sculpture and paintings, including the one glimpsed through the front entrance. Photo by David Dietrich
In the great room, the red Roche-Bobois sofa vibrantly complements the black window grid and stupendous glazing. Griffin designed gallery lighting around the gas fireplace, illuminating the red-tone glass sculpture by Greg Fidler, an artist from the Toe River Valley. Photo by David Dietrich
The open kitchen constitutes a masterpiece of artistic collaboration. Architect Robert Griffin and his project manager Jon Moore, working with builder Dan Hensley (DSH Construction), installed a dais at elevated eye level so that Brothers and her husband could display pieces from their modern-art collection. The black-and-white swirled marble countertop is its own canvas, and a European-style flush cabinetry scheme of taupe-painted maple (designed by Christy LaDue of Brevard) is enlivened by a red range hood. Photo by David Dietrich
Limestone tile on the floor and in the shower makes for a refined master bath. A free-standing slipper tub sits below a spherical chandelier that suggests a gently descending UFO, and sea-urchin wall pods by Asheville artist Heather Knight echo the ethereal calm. The custom-shellacked Corian countertop between his-and-her sinks renders a squeaky-clean line; the large work between the mirrors is by local painter Renee Molko. Photo by David Dietrich
Homeowner Carol Brothers literally flipped a bunch of ceiling fixtures from the ’60s, re-positioning them as high wall sconces (one of the pieces is seen at left). Meanwhile, the whimsical white chandelier over the dining-room table hangs low, a piece from the couple’s collection of contemporary art, culled over many years. They inhabited the penthouse at 12 Lexington in downtown Asheville before building their own expression of modernity in North Asheville. Charcoal tile work on wall by Appalachian Environments; stair rail by Superior Welding & Metal Work. Photo by David Dietrich

Architect: Griffin Architects PA (Robert Griffin, president;
Jon Moore, project manager)
Builder: DSH Construction
Interior Designer: Edward R. Stough
Kitchen & Bath Designer:
Christy LaDue
Cabinetry: Keystone Kitchen & Bath
Flooring: Newfound Mountain
Custom Floors
Ironwork: Superior Welding
& Metal Work
Landscaping: Appalachian Environments Landscaping
Tile Supplier: Horizon Tile & Stone
Tilework: Appalachian Environments Landscaping
Fixtures and Sinks: Ferguson
Window Shades: Carolina Blinds

One reply on “A Sleek Sanctuary”
  1. says: Peggy

    OMG…I’m in love…this is my dream home (except for cleaning all the windows!) Stunning from the word go!

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