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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Whisper Mountain ~ Special Design, Part 3

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Whisper Mountain ~ Part 3 

Special Design Touches

The third and final post in a series about a house rental on Whisper Mountain 

What makes a vacation rental home special?  What keeps it from feeling cold and sterile with no personality? You know how hotels have that "you're in a hotel" vibe?  Sure, the hotel has crisp, clean comforters, bedding, and towels, and there is artwork on the walls, but hotels still feel lifeless.

Luck House on Whisper Mountain in North Carolina is a rental home with a spectacular setting, views for 30 miles, and beautiful interior spaces that enhance the setting, with every room overlooking the mountains and valleys.  Yet, it is more than that.  The house is full of life throughout, but not cluttered.  Instead, it's filled with just the right touches that make guests feel they are visiting a friend's house. Some of the special design touches sparked my imagination enough for me to think of how I could incorporate some of them into my own home.

After viewing my photos, I realized the special design touches fall into four loose categories.  Most of the special touches fall into more than one category, which integrates the individual parts into an overall design, but there is one distinct major category into which each falls.

  1. Repurposed vintage and/or antique pieces 
  2. Materials used in unexpected ways 
  3. Small tabletop items 
  4. Artwork 

Source: Luck House on Whisper Mountain 

1.  Repurposed vintage and/or antique pieces

Right at the top of the list of repurposed vintage pieces is the custom made ceiling fan system.  Old metal rods connect repurposed propellers to create ceiling fan blades that work in tandem with one another... truly a one-of-a-kind piece that literally breathes life onto the guests sitting below the gentle breezes. 

Not as unusual as the ceiling fan, but still not the usual bathroom storage cabinet, is a vintage wood cabinet above the toilet in the guest half-bath. 

The aged wood is rustic, but the soft patina of the wood finish, the crown molding on the top, the raised panel in the door, and the unusual brass keyhole keep the piece from being too rough for house. 

The unexpected "pinkish" painted interior adds a little shot of color into the neutral color scheme of the house.  Here's where we found the extra toilet paper when we needed it.  I'm definitely looking for a small vintage cabinet to use in my master bath as a medicine cabinet. (Know of any for sale?) 

Probably not repurposed, but certainly an antique, the old wooden trunk in the master bedroom is a perfect space for extra blankets and pillows.  Old trunks often held treasured not-in-use items in early American homes.  A perfect blend of vintage and contemporary... the old trunk under a flat-screen TV on the wall. 

The custom made dining table on the porch is sturdy enough to withstand the natural elements of wind, rain, snow, etc...  The wooden base is solidly engineered with interlocking large supports, instead of being nailed or screwed together.  The top appears to be stained concrete with a smooth, easily cleaned surface. 

2.  Materials used in unexpected ways 

Take another look at the kitchen backsplash.  Not only do the colors echo the natural woods, the shape of the backsplash echoes the outline of a mountain range.  How stop-in-my-tracks-and-look-again is that design?

Pure inspiration!  Not only is it a unique nod to the natural settings, it uses scrap pieces of left-over granite.  Economical, purely functional, and an original designer piece.

How I would love to be able to visualize such a creative idea! I'm struck by how the graining of the granite imitates the rock striations of mountains.  Thinking about remodeling your mountain cabin kitchen?  You might want to check out the scrap granite at your local stone supplier.

Variegated grain adds to the beauty of the simple door facings.  This one is in the guest bath allowing it to be seen and enjoyed by most of the people who come to visit the house.  So, when choosing where to place your showiest wood grain pieces, think about who will see it.  Do you want to put it where a great number of people will see it or do you want to put it in a more private space, such as the master bath, where you will be able to enjoy it many times every day? 

The porch railing just fades into the background without obstructing the view because the railing is made from galvanized welded steel corral fencing available at farm and ranch stores.  This is another economical, light-bulb-moment material used in a highly unexpected way.  Easy to find, easy to install, and super safe with a strength that withstands abuse from LARGE farm animals.  

The decks around my house are currently being replaced (they are over 26 years old), and after seeing this house, corral fencing is what we plan to use for our new railing system.  Our local Tractor Supply store keeps this corral material in stock, 16' by 4' panels, for about $60 per panel.  Check your local farm and ranch stores for pricing in your area. 

3.  Small tabletop items 

Sparsely placed, unique custom pottery becomes a focal point to be admired instead of being overlooked in a more cluttered tabletop arrangement.

A handful of dried native black walnuts are reminders of the surrounding woods and of the heritage of the land.  Historical and environmental preservation are principles in the overall vision of Whisper Mountain.  

Any fruits, berries, or nuts indigenous to your area that you could use in your arrangements that would remind you of your heritage?  The black walnuts struck a chord with me.  As a child growing up in North Alabama, I lived with my grandparents on the side of a mountain that is part of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and there was a huge black walnut tree right outside the kitchen back door.  I remember gathering those walnuts while they were still encased in their thick fleshy green coats, then scraping away that outer surface after it dried into a black brittle shell, and then having to use a hammer to crack the walnuts because they were so hard. 

Black walnuts have such a distinctive flavor that I can taste it whenever I think of them.  Of course, the flavor brings a flood of memories of being loved and having a carefree, happy childhood on the side of a mountain where I roamed freely with my uncles. 

Yes, dried black walnuts are now on my list of things to use someplace in my home. 

One large wooden bowl filled with rattan balls and grey river stones is the only thing on the living area's large coffee table.  Once again, a single-item arrangement is striking. 

4.  Artwork 

Simple wooden frames and white double mats accentuate the sepia-toned photos of old buildings in isolated mountain settings.  The long narrow photos hang across from the guest half bath which makes them a focal point for people leaving the bathroom.  You have to look at them and be struck by their haunting images of bygone times.  Another reminder of Whisper Mountain's principles of historical and environmental preservation.

The flat wooden bowl holds a candle surrounded by more grey river stones on the main dining table, but the rustic metal HOME artwork on the windowsill says it all for this house, ...  or almost all for this house. 

l i f e   i s   g o o d

does say it all for this house. 

I knew I was going to love being in the North Carolina mountains for a few days' rest with my family, but I never expected to find so many great design ideas in the rental house.  Of course, bloggers always look for ideas wherever we go.

There's even more to see.  
If you missed the first two posts about Whisper Mountain, check out   

Anyone interested in visiting Luck House, Whisper Mountain, North Carolina 
can find detailed rental information at 

I did not receive any compensation from any source for the Whisper Mountain series.  Information is provided for my readers who enjoy seeing beautiful homes and decor in unusual surroundings.

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