Upgrade for the Ages

Former rancher is unrecognizable after polished makeover
The home of Jon Sarver and Amanda Mills is next door to builder/artisan Craig Weis, president of Architectural Woodcraft. These friends and collaborators have long enjoyed Asheville’s central historic neighborhood of Kenilworth. Weis and architect Chad Harding transformed a rancher into an outwardly restrained, sophisticated family residence. In the back, outsized horizontal and vertical windows lead to a slab deck and modern firepit.
Photo by David Dietrich

In a previous life, this smart, high-contrast home in Kenilworth was a basic brick rancher. Now all that’s left of that bygone era is the original footprint  and “maybe a few studs,” says Craig Weis, president of Architectural Woodcraft. 

Weis is the guy who’s trusted to renovate Western North Carolina’s most influential structures, both historic and hip, using materials salvaged from the properties’ respective sites. He rebuilt the doors of the Basilica of St. Lawrence Catholic Church with found wood, for instance, and he crafted the bars at New Belgium Brewery out of the area’s excavated stockyard debris.

And yet this exacting polymath is also known for his ultra-modern minimalist furniture — picture a geometric table with invisible drawers — and for full-on home makeovers. The latter was accomplished with this Kenilworth redux, in a journey that began extremely close to home: Weis originally bought the rancher, next door to his own residence, to keep his elderly mother close by. After she passed away, he started doing upgrades to the structure, with an idea to put the home on the market. 

But when his vision began to snowball, he brought in architect Chad Harding of Harding Architecture + Design. The former senior architect and creative director of Carlton Edwards Architecture, Harding went solo in 2015 and is acclaimed for prominent work in the local mountains and in the Pacific Northwest. 

“Knowing Chad as a friend and fellow professional, I sought out his expertise in design,” says Weis. Under Harding’s direction, the former 990-square-foot home gained an upper level and twice as much space, yielding three bedrooms (with master on main) and two full baths. 

Harding says he’d always wanted to see what could be done with a “post-war, ubiquitous, rancher-style home,” divining “so many opportunities” in that familiar footprint. “So when [Craig] approached me, it was a perfect fit, and an opportunity to collaborate on something really special.” 

Inside and out, the chosen materials prove the possibilities of contemporary woodcraft. The exterior uses moisture-repellent, nickel-groove Boral fly-ash siding (a byproduct of coal combustion); the dark trim, including a black metal roof, suggests a farmhouse look with a coastal Scandinavian accent. Inside, a flush, polished cabinetry array of rift-sawn white oak distinguishes the kitchen. The windows are trimmed in ponderosa pine. 

Even the front door at the Sarver/Mills home is made from reclaimed wood, in this case the remnants of a fallen white-oak tree on woodcrafter Craig Weis’ own property.
Photo by David Dietrich

Homeowners Jon Sarver, a long-time Asheville entrepreneur and cycling activist, and his wife Amanda Mills, who was a nurse at Mission Hospital for 14 years, have two grown children and a middle schooler. They already knew Weis as a fellow Kenilworth dweller, having lived in Asheville’s central historic neighborhood for almost 25 years. Sarver reveals further details of what he calls the “professional and personal connection,” noting, “Architectural Woodcraft did a beautiful job on our previous home on Chiles Avenue, with a custom kitchen remodel and several custom bathroom remodels. The quality and mastery of craft is incredible. The whole crew is gifted … Matt Morrissey is a master cabinet maker and an all-around great guy.”

Sarver and Mills had briefly moved to East Asheville but were eyeing Kenilworth again when Weis and Harding began customizing the long-gone rancher. Hoping to lure his friends back as next-door neighbors, Weis amped up the construction of a bicycle shed. 

“He knew that would be a must-have for me,” says Sarver. “Craig really knows what Amanda and I value and appreciate, and the home is full of those things.” 

The Shape of Things

Builder Craig Weis praises architect Chad Harding’s knack for fantastic fenestration, noting the rarity of a functional front window this large in a medium-sized home. In the great room, that window reflects another talent of Weis and his team at Architectural Woodcraft: Craig and crew made the multi-use fireplace surround from a mix of formed-board concrete, salvaged stockyard wood, and reclaimed white pine. “We stained the inset for the interior shelves black using vinegar and steel wool at the fireplace,” says Weis.

Crisp white honeycomb blinds, tray coffee tables, and Scandinavian furniture (Muuto) show the taste of a cultured family who’ve made their home in Asheville for many decades. 

Photo by David Dietrich

Into the Fold

What homeowner Jon Sarver calls an “origami pantry” — a foldout wonder with space for every amenity — is part of the complex but smoothly presented kitchen array built by Craig Weis of Architectural Woodcraft. Wood is rift-sawn white oak with a water-based clear top coat. “Only Craig Weis could bring such a neat design idea to reality,” says Sarver. AC’s Todd Dupuis welded the pantry frames and oven hood.

Photo by David Dietrich
Photo by David Dietrich

Nook Happy

The subtle grain contrast between the cabinetry and kitchen wall shows the meticulous detailing for which Architectural Woodcraft is known; likewise the sill-to-ceiling window trimmed with ponderosa pine. A built-in shelf for cookbooks is a small example of the home’s many inspired nooks; a major one is the pair of sliding doors that hides the fridge. The kitchen island and cabinetry are topped by black leathered granite countertops from Mountain Marble. Gooseneck coil faucets and a vault sink keeps the interior crisp and architectural. (Bella Hardware and Bath).

Photo by David Dietrich

The Rancher That Was

Boral fly-ash siding, doubled square footage, and a black metal roof makes this overhauled ranch house in Kenilworth all but unrecognizable from its original embodiment in brick. A slab-on-grade front porch grounds the look, for a vibe of Modern Farmhouse meets Scandinavian chic. Architect is Chad Harding; Craig Weis of Architectural Woodcraft is GC. Weis’ team also did all the custom woodwork.

Photo by David Dietrich

Forest for the Trees

In the master bedroom, white and green textiles complement not only the mature landscaping outside but also a striking painted landscape by another Kenilworth resident, artist Ralston Fox Smith. (The homeowners and GC/artisan Craig Weis of Architectural Woodcraft have lived in the central Asheville neighborhood for decades.) Interior by Chad Harding, Harding Architecture + Design 

Photo by David Dietrich


Architect: Chad Harding, Harding Architecture + Design (Asheville)

Builder: Craig Weis, Architectural Woodcraft (Asheville)

Paul Kline, NorthStar Construction (Asheville)

Interior Designer: Harding Architecture + Design

Custom woodwork: Architectural Woodcraft

Tile: Mediterranean Tiling & Stone (Asheville)

Cabinetry: Matt Morrissey (Architectural Woodcraft)

Countertops: Mountain Marble (Asheville)

Fine Art: Emma Morrow Sarver, Ralston Fox Smith (Asheville)

Flooring: Blue Ridge Floors (Asheville)

Fixtures: Bella Hardware and Bath (Asheville)

Stone: Board Form Concrete (Architectural Woodcraft)

Doors and windows: Architectural Woodcraft

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