Tucked into the beauty of the Nantahala National Forest is the city of Cashiers, North Carolina, a quaint mountain town in the Blue Ridge Mountains not far from Asheville. Teresa and Guy Cheves Tarrant have been relaxing in Cashiers since 2006 after purchasing a condo there. But they knew they wanted something more spacious and with views of the mountains.
Guy’s family is descended from the Kinloch family of Scotland, the original owners of the historic rice-growing Weehaw Plantation located along the Black and Pee Dee Rivers in Georgetown. “The property title dates to the late 1600s and was passed to the Middleton family, then to the Cheves family. By the time it came to us, the property was reduced to about 400 acres and was primarily a timber farm,” he says. “The neighboring family wanted to put the plantation back together, so my brothers and I decided to sell.”
That sale helped the Tarrants to pursue their dream of building their mountain home. But first they would need to find the right piece of property on which to build. Fortunately, they had plenty of time to think about where they wanted to be in terms of location. In addition to space and views, the lot would also need to be facing south. “West and east facings have brutal sunshine,” Guy says, “and we wanted something flat and not too high up so we could walk or ride our golf cart to the Country Club of Sapphire Valley.”
In 2010, they chose a 3-acre lot located on Rock Mountain that gave them views of Chimney Top Mountain above. “It’s very difficult to find relatively flat property,” Guy says, “so in essence, we had to create a flat lot.” Guy describes that process as similar to cutting a slice of inverted pie into the side of the mountain, a process that took three years to complete. The construction involved using boulders from the property to create tiers that were back filled to help create the flat lot.
The lot itself dictated the final floor plan with Guy creating most of the design himself. Construction began in 2014 with contractor Hub Powell and took a year-and-a-half to complete. The exterior of stone and siding, complemented by colors of chocolate brown and red window trim, help the house blend into the colors of the mountainside. Inside the home, there are three bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, ample living space, a large kitchen, master suite and an office for Guy on the first floor, with two bedrooms and Teresa’s art studio on the second floor. The three-car garage has room for two cars and their golf cart for tooling around the countryside.
Guy readily admits that he is all about convenience and low maintenance, so he chose man-made materials for much of the exterior of the house as a way to hold the upkeep to a minimum. For the siding, Guy wanted poplar bark and cedar siding, a frequently used material for mountain homes. “The problem is that poplar bark tends to crack and break over time,” he says. So he chose a product called Bark Clad® that simulates the look and feel of real wood bark but has a 50-year warranty. On the roof, he used Enviroshake®, an eco-friendly material that replicates the look of cedar shake shingles, again a product with a 50-year warranty.
To help with the interior, Teresa and Guy turned again to Linda Burnside of LGB Interiors to help with the design as Linda had decorated a previous home. “Guy had the vision for the house,” says Teresa, “and Linda was the facilitator.” While the house may be located in the mountains, neither Teresa nor Guy wanted it to look like a traditional mountain home on the inside. They covered the walls with 8-inch No. 1 poplar shiplap paneling, meaning the wood has no knots.
Dipped and painted in a neutral shade, the shiplap runs throughout the first floor with the exception of Guy’s office, which has sinker pecky cypress panels on the walls. “It is dipped in dark walnut and dried then planed,” explains Guy. “It comes out a beautiful golden-brown shade, but the parts that are distressed keep the dark walnut coloring in it.” Timbers in the living room ceiling and the pecky cypress came from the swamps of Louisiana. The floors are 5-inch quarter saw white oak with a dark walnut stain.
The living area opens onto an expansive covered porch making it an even larger space for enjoying the mountain scenery. Retractable screens, also known as Phantom screens, surround the porch and can be dropped with the push of a button to keep out pollen, dust, rain and more importantly, insects, making it ideal for entertaining. The large through-and-through stone fireplace provides enough heat to keep everyone warm on the porch, even in cold weather.
As a means of saving energy, Guy chose to install a series of sun tunnels. These are 12-inch diameter tubes with mirrors placed at different angles proceeding from the roof. The mirrors reflect the light into the room but not the heat. “We have a series of eight of these throughout the house, including the kitchen, living room, garage studio and laundry room, so it provides plenty of natural light,” says Guy. “We even have one in our master closet and don’t have to turn on the lights except at night.
Another energy savings measure includes heavy 12-inch foam insulation. “We’ve never had a power bill more than $200,” Guy says proudly.
In fact, the house is so well insulated that Guy had to install a different type of air exchange HVAC system to help bring fresh air into the house that also aids in reducing humidity. And because power-outages are common in the mountains, a whole-house 22 kilowatt generator can keep everything running.
To help keep the woodland critters from foraging for leftovers in the trashcan, Guy installed a bear-proof heavy steel can system where a door opens off the garage.
One of the most important rooms in the house is Teresa’s studio. A retired physical therapist, painting is something she started just for fun. Their previous home didn’t have the space she needed to paint, so having a studio in the mountain home was a must. “I finally have a spot that I can keep a canvas and my paints,” Teresa smiles. “And it also doubles as a room where my grandchildren can stay when they come for a visit.”
One other requirement for Teresa was a nice closet. This closet apparently was a home run for Teresa as she describes it as her mini “Kim Kardashian” closet. Eight-foot French doors lead into the his-and-hers closet that is the size of a bedroom. A free-standing bench center island with dual drawers provides plenty of additional storage. To finish off the master suite, the tile floors in the master bath are heated to take the chill off for those cool mountain mornings, and the Jacuzzi tub has air jets as opposed to water jets.
Linda and Guy worked closely together in designing the elements throughout the house, including the walnut kitchen cabinetry. The farmer’s sink in the kitchen looks directly out to a view of the mountains. Professional grade appliances include a Subzero refrigerator and a professional range nestled into a niche. Linda also helped design an 18-inch deep china cabinet to display Teresa’s china and special collectibles. The countertops and island feature leathered granite stone. Guy even requested a water sprayer in the cabinet for the Keurig coffee maker. To help keep clean lines throughout the house, Guy chose to install 8-foot walnut pocket doors. “They don’t take a lot of space, and they’re easy to move with just your little finger,” he says.
When it came time to decorate, the usually very involved Guy stepped back to let Teresa and Linda take on that task. “I took them to the High Point Market,” Linda recalls. “I think it’s important that my clients have the chance to see everything all together to decide together what colors they lean toward and actually sit on the sofas and chairs.” The only thing that Teresa and Linda had to convince Guy about was the rug they chose for the living room. “Everything else, we both knew what we wanted,” says Teresa.
The colors throughout the house are soothing and soft — washed woods, leathers and linens. “This house has a very organic feel,” Linda describes. She worked with Teresa in the selection of soft blues, gold, creams, even a little black. “We took one of the colors in the stone and the colors in nature that you see in Cashiers — that blue-gray color. That’s how the colors evolved. It’s a very comfortable home done in colors that work in the mountains but it’s not a mountain-themed home,” she explains.
The house is a treasure for the Tarrants as they live at their mountain retreat from May to October, taking advantage of the opportunity to escape the heat and humidity of the summer and spend that time in the cool of the mountains. “It’s not a museum house,” says Guy. “It’s designed for our comfort, and it’s a livable house, one that I enjoy coming home to and having our friends and family over.
“We want our children and their children to know where it came from, to have that connection to family,” he adds. And Teresa knows how much it means to Guy. “This is his baby, his design,” she says. “He put his whole heart and soul into making this house what it is today.”