The Science of Happiness

Modern home brims with harmonious outcomes
A sculptural array of built-ins (Kevin Hughes, An Crann Furniture) is the artisanal focal point of the Loughrans’ great room.
Photo by David Dietrich

Julia and Wiley Loughran are a statuesque couple, both in the 6-foot range. Their custom home in North Asheville, built by Sineath Construction, has rooms that rise to 12 feet tall. 

It’s high style, but it’s also psychological. “I don’t like the ceiling feeling like it’s on top of me,” says Julia. 

The home’s aging-in-place components — curbless showers, an interior elevator, wide hallways — are likewise rooted in real life. Four years ago, the couple survived a small-plane crash in the Bahamas. Wiley was wheelchair-bound for months following the accident, “so we know a thing or two about keeping the master [suite] on main,” says Julia. It’s also important not to have any rises in the floor trim where rooms connect. “There’s not a lip in this house,” she says. 

The active, involved Loughrans are retired from the D.C. area. They maintain Instagram accounts for their beloved pets, Mr. Mouse (a tuxedo cat) and Jax, a Black Lab. They also teach classes at UNC-Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, focusing on travel apps, iPhone photography, “The Science of Happiness,” and other current themes. 

Entertaining friends is a year-round joy. Wiley is a classically trained chef, and among the kitchen perks implemented by interior designer Gini Crowder-Marshall is a 10-burner BlueStar stove and a professional salamander broiler.

“It’s the ultimate kitchen for me,” says Wiley. 

Lane Pressley, owner of Expressions Cabinetry, notes the “rewarding and challenging” goal of incorporating commercial-kitchen-grade appliances into a “residential kitchen that is the centerpiece of the home.” He chose frameless, painted Wynnbrooke cabinetry that offers a refined counterpoint to all the stainless steel. 

The Loughrans were enchanted by a sunroom that Sineath Construction added to their first local residence, so they immediately picked the company to build their dream home. It’s run by Brian Sineath and his wife Allyson, who were college sweethearts at Appalachian State University. As a traveling builder, Brian constructed hundreds of homes across the Southeast before opening his own business in Weaverville in 2012, with his late father Tommy as a partner. 

Having seen the changeover from paned-and-gabled Craftsman architecture to today’s frank lines and masses of glass, Sineath notes, “There’s less visual clutter with Mountain Modern. The inside is more in touch with the outside, and the style is really connected to our area’s amazing scenery, the long seasons. 

“When my dad was alive, he used to say that a house should not fight its lot, but be in synch with it.”

Sineath credits Tom Panek, owner of Dream Home Design, for his flexibility in tweaking the chosen house plan to the owners’ specifications, although they were already taken with the layout’s “dedicated works spaces” amid modern flow. 

In the segue space between the kitchen and great room, the quirky-modern wet bar and coat tree come from Four Corners Home, a local modern-furnishings store. The walnut bar in the kitchen and the silver-maple dining-room table are custom pieces built by An Crann Furniture (East Asheville). Interior design by Gini Crowder-Marshall (HIVE).
Photo by David Dietrich

“The collaborative effort really enhanced the process,” says Panek. “The avenues of communication were always open.” 

Marshall had already worked with the Loughrans on several projects, and knew about Julia’s preferred hues (moody blues and bold metallics, yes; pink, no). The designer’s company, HIVE Interior Design, also appoints hospitality venues; thus Marshall knows that accessing the region’s world-class craft sets an important scene.

One frequent collaborator is Kevin Hughes, a seventh-generation woodworker from Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, who lives in East Asheville with his young family. (His business name, An Crann, means “The Tree” in Irish.) Hughes made the home’s silver-maple dining table, two bars, and a powder-room vanity, all of walnut; and art niches in the great room and hallway.

That built-in array “is the stand-out piece for me,” says Hughes. “Between [all] of us, we came up with some really fun ideas … and I think [it] shows.”

Warming to Local Craft

Large-scale porcelain tile from Crossville Studios gives the fireplace surround the glow of burnished metal, and mitered-edge ceiling beams add further warmth and heft to the Mountain Modern scheme. But the main attraction is a series of art-niche walnut built-ins, plus, just below the TV, a bench, all made by Kevin Hughes/An Crann Furniture (designed by HIVE Interior Design). Builder is Sineath Construction. “Atlas Table” from the Phillips Collection (High Point).

Photo by David Dietrich
Owner Julia Loughran opted out of the ubiquitous cable-rail style for the stair array leading to the home’s lower level. Todd R. Miller of Screaming Hot Iron welded a modern, high-interest landing that greets the eye like a steel web. 
Photo by David Dietrich
Haute Home Chef

A ten-burner stove and salamander broiler comprise the ambitious playground of trained chef/homeowner Wiley Loughran. With wife Julia, Wiley loves to host elaborately themed dinner parties — “everything from Indian [cuisine] to Italian,” he says. The raised walnut bar is the inspiration of interior designer Gini Crowder-Marshall (HIVE Interior Design) and was built by Kevin Hughes, owner of An Crann Furniture. Painted frameless cabinetry in “Urbane Bronze” and “Mindful Gray” are by Lane Pressley (Expressions Cabinetry). “Fantasy Brown” quartzite countertops are designed by Expressions and sourced through local Alexander Stoneworks.

Photo by David Dietrich
In this wonderfully moody half bath, small sculptures on the wall and sink (Arteriors, via HIVE) and a bijou onyx sink complement a custom wall covering. Custom vanity by An Crann Furniture.
Photo by David Dietrich
Practical Magic

In the master bath, earth-toned porcelain tile in complementary patterns, all from Crossville Studios, makes a boldly stylish statement. But the shower bench in Sequoia Quartzite, mirror, and curbless entrance are highly practical aging-in-place components. “Urbane Bronze” painted frameless cabinetry is by Lane Pressley (Expressions), who also appointed the countertops, sourced through Alexander Stoneworks.

Photo by David Dietrich
Photo by David Dietrich
Sleepy Time to a T

The Loughrans selected a high-back upholstered bed in the master bedroom, arrayed in honey-and-charcoal textiles by HIVE Interior Design. A Bernhardt accent chair and abstract rug are grounded by 7” white-oak flooring. The “site-finished engineered wood was supplied by local favorite Gennett Lumber Company,” says HIVE principal Gini Crowder-Marshall. “We’ve been doing business with Phillip Gennett and our beloved flooring guru Karen [Shull] for many years. When Karen showed us this floor, we just knew it was the one to fill the Loughrans’ home with a modern warmth.” 

Photo by David Dietrich


Builder: Brian Sineath, Sineath Construction (Weaverville)

Interior Designer: Gini Crowder-Marshall, HIVE Interior Design (Asheville)

Residential designer: Tom Panek, Dream Home Design (Asheville)

Custom Woodwork and Furniture: Kevin Hughes, An Crann Furniture (Asheville)

Furniture Source (great room): NC-made companies sourced through Town & Country Furnishings Market (Black Mountain)

Accent Furniture: Coat tree and wet bar, Four Corners Home (Asheville)

Cabinetry & Countertop Design: Lane Pressley, Expressions Cabinetry (Fletcher)

Metal: Artisan railing by blacksmith Todd R. Miller, Screaming Hot Iron (Fletcher)

Countertop source & installation: Alexander Stoneworks (Fletcher)

Flooring: Gennett Lumber Co. (Fletcher)

Concrete Flooring: Ennis Art (Asheville)

Stonework: Wright’s Stoneworks (Fairview)

Tile: Crossville Studios (Fletcher)

Tile Installer: Paco Design Studio (Hendersonville)

Doors and Windows: Morrison Millwork (Fletcher)

Landscape Construction: Greater Scapes Landscape and Lawncare (Weaverville)

Appliances: Haywood Appliance (Asheville)

One reply on “The Science of Happiness”
  1. says: Julia Loughran

    Thank you Carolina Home and Garden for sharing our dream home! You really captured all we love about our custom home!

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