Boone, North Carolina

Nestled in the beautiful highland region of the Appalachian Mountains near Boone, North Carolina, this mountain retreat serves as a seasonal sanctuary from the balmy summers of Charlotte and caters to the owner’s passion for writing.  The highland cottage is a successful integration of understated English country cottage aesthetic within the grandness of the sites magnificent mountainous setting. While transmitting a feeling of harmony between the natural and manmade, the Highland Cottage shows how simplicity in design and well-crafted execution can leave a lasting sense of presence.

Great care was given to develop a landscape expression that seamlessly extends the architecture to achieve a common spirit and singular design vocabulary.  Conceptually, the landscape design was also conceived as a foil to mask the stark contrast between the home’s modest English cottage façade and the enormous fifty-foot chalet like colonnade that was required to support the homes rear terraces but which seemed at odds with the cottage design vocabulary.  Authentic materials, including hand tooled stone, granite cobble and hand forged wrought iron along with historical detailing articulate the cottage vocabulary establishing a feeling of vintage character and correctness that is not easily duplicated in our ready-maid, faux applique world.

Located on the side of a mountain within an exclusive golf course community, the site resides at an altitude of 3,800 feet and offers coveted panoramic views of Grandfather Mountain.  Due to the projects highland location, design challenges included significant elevation changes, severe climatic conditions including alpine temperatures with high winds and a constricted approach, limited site access and an extremely shallow, rocky soil profile. The landscape architectural program is comprised of a sequence of four primary spaces that largely define the immediate perimeter of the home and include the entry drive, motor court, rustic writing pavilion trail and stepped fern walk.

The entry drive consists of a radiantly heated granite cobblestone drive with a thirty-foot hand tooled stone retaining wall and raised front porch that sits above the snow drift.  The front porch also offers one of the few flat spaces where vessel plantings and a simple teak bench help frame the entry.  Large Canadian hemlocks were used to give privacy from the street while large scarlet oaks were placed within the side yard to conceal the magnificent arched colonnade that was required to support the homes rear terraces.  The scarlet oaks also provide a brilliant display of fall color that draws the landscape inside through the dining and living room windows, reinforcing the connection to the outdoors.  A simple composition of English boxwood, ivy and yew trees were chosen to provide a simple undulating rhythm of green along the entry drive offering a subtle formality suitable for a cottage landscape aesthetic.  A perennial border garden was designed along the primary axis of the interior spine, directly opposite the front door, for beautiful views that change throughout the day.  At the visual terminus to the sweeping entry drive the sloped rhododendron garden becomes a seasonal explosion of fuchsia red.

The motor court terrace reinforces the tight continuity between the indoor and outdoor spaces and serves as both a point of arrival – as the guest parking area and point of departure – to the rustic writing pavilion trail which starts just beyond the garden gate.  With careful attention to the layout, pattern, color and joint detail, the motor court also harmonizes the various hardscape selections used in this space.  Heirloom Imprenetta terra cotta pots with dwarf Alberta spruce help define the gate passage to the trail beyond.

The rustic writing pavilion trail offers a scenic hike along the most traversable portion of the site.  The trail leads to a small cascading waterfall and brook present during spring before switching back to the lower trail where you encounter a large granite boulder and bench before arriving at the writing pavilion. The stepped fern walk provides access to the writing pavilion from the homes multi-level terrace and allows the magnificent arched colonnade to be experienced up close.  This is especially dramatic as evening arrives and the colonnade is silhouetted against the clear mountain sky.