Crème de la Crème

Photo by J. Weiland Photography

“In our Cajun heritage, the kitchen is the heart of the family,” says Donna Lemoine, who shares a warm, elegant retreat in Balsam Mountain Preserve (Sylva) with her husband Rowdy. Brenda Tudor, president of Morgan-Keefe Builders, the company that constructed the home, notes the property’s French designation: Maison de Montagne (“Mountain Home”). And interior designer Shawn Leatherwood, owner of The Architectural Studio, enumerates the Gallic influences throughout the rooms, including multiple crystal chandeliers, vivid bedding and upholstery instead of the typical palette of Blue Ridge neutrals, and a wine cellar stocked with French vintages. The seats around the dining-room table (sourced from Hooker Furniture) are plush and the bar stools are kingly, the hardwood ceiling features a regal arch, the hearth is an august grid of Tennessee fieldstone, and the traditional cabinetry is dark-stained, raised-panel knotty alder. But despite the handsome framework, a Cajun kitchen also has to be lively and practical, and Donna is eager to mention the six-burner stove: “It can accommodate large pots for cooking gumbo and étouffée, as well as other Cajun goodies,” she says. “The kitchen is designed to blend the eating area, the outdoor deck area, and the small keeping area in front of the fireplace into one space,” explains Leatherwood. “When cooking, the entire family can be in the space to enjoy the views, the mountain air, and the time together.”

Architect Shawn Leatherwood of The Architectural Studio (Waynesville)
Cabinetry Gregory Paolini Design (Canton)
Builder Morgan-Keefe Builders (Arden)
Countertops Mountain Marble (Asheville)
Tile Horizon Tile & Stone (Fletcher)
Appliances Ferguson (Asheville)

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