Big Art and Smart Kindnesses

Art-filled home evolved from simpatico gestures 

By: Catherine Brooke Eastman

Smithport Cabinetry in black (from builder Timberline Custom Homes), combined with marble-toned backsplash tile from Crossville Studios, sets up a backdrop for the plush absinthe-green bar stools, upholstered by Dawn Trenneman Jones, a design consultant with Atelier Maison & Co. in Asheville, through which designer Susan Chancey chose the home’s major pieces of furniture. (The homeowners wanted a replica of stools they’d seen in a favorite restaurant in South Florida.)
Photo by Katie Charlotte

Interior designer Susan Chancey is connected to some of the biggest names in the fine-art world. It’s true, too, that she washes and steams her own clients’ sheets before she lets them move in.

Chancey really means it when she says her firm offers “concierge service.” Once she positions finishings and furnishings in a luxury home — in this case a sophisticated residence in Poplar Ridge filled with collected artwork — “it’s not on a level of, ‘Oh, let me install all these pretty things for you,’” says Chancey. “I tuck the whole house in.”

Chancey came to Asheville 15 years ago from Birmingham, Alabama, bringing her warm, mellow charm from that hub of Southern-lifestyle brands where her work appeared on the covers of Southern Living and Country Living. But by now, she styles herself a  “mountain girl” — partly evidenced by all the soft, natural greens and blues she “loves” and that remind her of the local flora and fauna.

“When [the homeowners] look outside from the master bedroom, they see the same colors out there as they have surrounding them indoors,” says Chancey. The family is based in West Palm Beach, and Chancey nicknamed their Western North Carolina getaway their “hurricane home.” But it’s more than that now that their son has recently graduated from high school, and the couple hopes to experience more of mountain life in their Poplar Ridge residence.

“We can’t wait to spend fall in this beautiful place,” says the wife and mother.

The bedrooms may be tranquil, but in most of the home’s common spaces, things get bold. Chancey interacted smartly with the homeowners’ artwork collection, which includes iconic rabbit pieces by art star Hunt Slonem, who’s represented locally by Bender Gallery, and a series of 45 glass birds by New Zealand artist Luke Jacomb, sourced and installed through Bender. 

“Our philosophy when it comes to acquiring art is if we love it, we buy it,” says the homeowner. “My husband always says, ‘You can never have too much art or too many dogs.’” 

But Chancey also tapped her own connections, commissioning Dallas designer Kelly O’Neal to paint a striking abstract mural behind a built-in banquette by Lane Pressley of Expressions Cabinetry. “I flew [Kelly] in for a week,” reveals Chancey, who’s a big champion of creative freedom. 

The home’s major pieces of furniture were scouted by Chancey through Atelier Maison & Co., a local purveyor of eco-conscious heirloom furniture. Atelier owner Laura K. Sullivan calls Chancey “brilliant” and says she and her staff “were honored to partner on this beautiful project.” Another local commission was the handsome billiards table, built by High Country Furniture, a family company with stores in Hendersonville and Waynesville.

Contracted through Timberline Custom Homes of Asheville, the building includes ceiling beams, stacked fieldstone inside and out, and other rustic hallmarks. The homeowner also praises the “the beautiful wood floors, outdoor porches, and high ceiling … all elements of a mountain house.” Further crediting Chancey’s “amazing eye,” she notes “the layer of sophistication with the art, custom cabinetry, light fixtures, drapes, and wall coverings [that] give it more of our personality … to make it what it is today.”

Photo by Katie Charlotte

A Pattern of Greatness

In the great room, Susan Chancey commissioned drapes in the shade Bleu Marine, from a “Garden of Persia” graphic inspired by antique Persian rugs (Schumacher). The installation is boldly simpatico with the central artwork — Deep River, an acrylic by Martin Brewster — from the homeowners’ large collection of regional, national, and international painters. The furniture here is restrained, with a whiff of Mid Century Modern, all chosen by Chancey from Atelier Maison & Co. 

Among the homeowners’ collection of cutting-edge art is the battle-ready “Gold Rabbit in Bullet Shells” by Colombian artist Federico Uribe. The small sculpture looms large in the office/den.
Photo by Jack Robert
Photo by Katie Charlotte

Bunnies at the Banquet

The dining-room table — made from a “responsibly harvested” Chamcha wood slab — and chairs are from Atelier Maison & Co. Home Furnishings. Interior designer Susan Chancey added neutral drapes (Fabricut) to cede pride of place to the large-scale Hunt Slonem piece Totem, commissioned by the homeowners, who collect the Neo-Expressionist’s signature rabbit paintings. (Slonem is represented in Asheville by Bender Gallery.)

Photo by Katie Charlotte

Art Opening

Celebrated interior designer Susan Chancey never saw a nook she couldn’t catapult out of the doldrums. To wit: a commissioned wall mural by painter Kelly O’Neal centered by a small Hunt Slonem rabbit in the same hue, plus banquette seating built by Lane Pressley (Expressions Cabinetry), making a space that suggests not just “coffee and conversation” but, indeed, revelation. 

Photo by Jack Robert

Flights of Fancy

Installed in a sun-drenched hallway are 45 glass birds — collectively Bellbird — by second-generation New Zealand artist Luke Jacomb, sourced through Bender Gallery, a contemporary fine-art venue specializing in local and international glass artists and high-profile painters such as Hunt Slonem. The homeowners are avid art buyers, and interior designer Susan Chancey helped curate the new and existing pieces in their collection.

Photo by Katie Charlotte

The Master Plan

In the primary bedroom suite, an upholstered bed — though Atelier Maison & Co. — and soothing blue-spectrum bedding from Porter & Prince are exalted by wooden beams on the high dormer ceiling, a rustic chandelier (Ferguson), and a Martin Brewster oil, Winter Light. All furnishings and finishings, including custom pillows and duvet, were selected by Susan Chancey Interiors.

Photo by Katie Charlotte

Building a Better Bunker

Lane Pressley (Expressions Cabinetry) accomplished this dreamy set of slate-hued built-ins in what the homeowner calls “a jewel box of a bunk room.” The bunks play well with accessories from Atelier Maison & Co. and textiles from Porter & Prince Luxuries and Linens. The wood ladder and ceiling slats are notes of rustic charm in the residence, built by Mark Montini of Timberline Custom Homes. “Every guest who walks in here says, ‘I’ll take this room,’” reveals the homeowner. 

A soaking tub (Ferguson) anchors the master bath. Charcoal-colored floor tile is from Crossville Studios. Romantic chandelier is “Leon” from from Ferguson’s “Arteriors Home” line. Wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries.
Photo by Katie Charlotte
Photo by Jack Robert

Study in Elegance

Lane Pressley (owner and designer, Expressions Cabinetry) and interior designer Susan Chancey are behind the custom built-ins in the study. “Susan envisioned a combination of painted and stained full-access cabinetry to give it a rich, yet softened feel,” says Pressley. “We used full 2.25 inch thick box columns as both vertical and horizontal members, to give it a substantial appearance.” All were cut and fit onsite by master installer Jimmie Worley. Chair and desk are from Atelier Maison & Co.

A Lowcountry Swing Bed, seen at center, was the only way to go on the outdoor back porch. Stacked fieldstone (Timberline Custom Homes) shows where the mountains meet the coast. Floor tile is from Crossville Studios. Goldendoodle not included in custom interior services. 
Photo by Katie Charlotte
Photo by Jack Robert

Angle Shot

The billiards table in the lower-level lounge area is a custom piece from High Country Furniture. The body is a classic pecan-on-maple finish, and the table’s striking orange play field picks up the jubilance of the custom orange mural upstairs. Here, another Hunt Slonem rabbit painting, “Quadruplets,” observes the action (selected from Bender Gallery, who represent Slonem in Asheville). At left: Jean-François Rauzier’s Falling Livres.


Interior Designer: Susan Chancey Interiors (Asheville)

Builder: Timberline Custom Homes (Asheville)

Woodwork and Built-Ins (wine cooler, bunk beds, office cabinetry): Lane Pressley, Expressions Cabinetry (Asheville)

Local furniture: Atelier Maison & Co. Home Furnishings (Asheville)

Custom billiards table: High Country Furniture & Design (Waynesville and Hendersonville)

Local artwork: Bender Gallery (Asheville)

Tile: Crossville Studios (Fletcher)

Textiles/bedding: Porter & Prince Luxuries and Linens (Asheville)

Appliances and Lighting: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen, & Lighting Gallery (Asheville)

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