Imagine that you’re standing on the edge of a lake as a huge thunderstorm approaches. The wind whips around you, and rain begins to beat against your face. Whitecaps race across the surface of the lake. Lightning flashes, huge and bright against the whirling darkness of the sky, and a loud clap of thunder deafens you seconds later. You’re at the heart of the storm—in the midst of the elements.
Now imagine again. Imagine the same wind, the same rain, the same whitecaps on the lake—but now you’re standing by a window, looking out from your home onto the wildness outside. inside, everything is calm and ordered—each element exquisitely fashioned and meticulously placed, a perfect mirror to the raging storm outside.
Dr. Casey Page’s house is just such a refuge from the storms of life. Standing on the shore of Fort Loudon Lake, the timber-frame structure integrates perfectly into its environment, its interior beautifully echoing the natural elements of the land around it. “I love the house. I love everything about the style of it, from the outside to the inside,” says interior designer Sam George of Samuel Franklin. he, along with builder Robert Harkrider of Princeton Construction, worked with Page to create the elemental style of the home.
The exterior of the house is painted a sage green and complemented by exquisite stonework, and the home itself is surrounded by a carefully chosen mix of flora to create a playful and elegant environment. The landscape by four Seasons Grounds Management is designed to complement the house’s design and help it to blend in with the natural beauty of the lakeshore. Page worked with David Neil, the company’s owner, to choose the color scheme and bed design for the exterior plants. everything was planned so as to “maximize the beauty of the architectural features of the home and integrate the interior of the house with the gardens.” four Seasons also executed the paved driveway and walkway in front of the home. Belgard Urbana Stone was selected for this project. “The chiseled textures and contours combine with the stone’s random shapes and patterns to recall the look and feel of vintage cut stone,” says Neil. for Page, the combination of the stone pavers and the other stone elements of the wood were a perfect complement to the timber-frame structure.
“I like the elements of outside: stone and wood,” says Page. The son of a lumberman, he learned the love of wood and the outdoors from his father. Through the combined talents of Harkrider and George, however, his home goes beyond a merely rustic feel to a truly elegant combination of nature and design.
This combination starts with the basic structure of the house. Working with Harkrider, Page chose an existing plan for his home and modified it extensively. “We adapted the plan to suit his needs,” says Harkrider. perhaps the most important element of the home’s design is the method of construction, a traditional timber frame provided by Sauter Timber. this is a very old method for building and perhaps the sturdiest way to build a house. Though once a timber frame would have been constructed by craftsmen using only hand tools, today the heavy timber beams are cut on a machine precisely controlled by a computer to ensure accuracy. Sauter’s team then takes the beams and joints them together to create the house’s frame. The beams support the roof and walls of the structure, and the distressed and stained timber that is visible in the great room of the house is therefore an essential part of its structure as well as a beautiful element of the room. The timber frame structure extends to both the front and back of the house, giving the exterior its shape and craftsman-style design. Despite its modern construction, the romance of timber frame remains.
As with the home’s staircase, no nails or metal fasteners were used to create the timber frame structure. Instead, the traditional method of using pegged mortise and tenon joints adds strength to the structure, while the traditional joints on the staircase became features of the house’s overall look and feel. The staircase is completed with iron railings to add yet another texture to the entranceway. The mix of textures in the home that begins with the timber frame structure helped to create the atmosphere that Page was looking for in his new home.
“I’m past the point in my life when I really want to have a super formal house. I just want people to be comfortable,” says Page. “I was tired of stiff, formal living.” he asked Harkrider and George to help him create a beautiful yet relaxing home where he could unwind from his busy life. it was also very important to him that other people would feel welcome in his home. “He wanted it to be very comfortable,” says George. “ it was all about everything being approachable to anybody who would come in—that they would feel comfortable sitting anywhere they wanted to sit and that there were no off-limits rooms.”
Though Dr. Page lives alone, his house is designed to be extremely guest-oriented. each bedroom is a suite that has its own unique, special bathroom. They’re all different,” says George. “The tile in them is different, and the way we used it is different.” The best part, however, is that every bedroom in the house has its own view of the lake. Guests are also assured their rest by the layout of the house: all of the guestrooms are either upstairs or downstairs, while Page’s rooms are on the ground floor, and all of the guest rooms are on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen, where early risers are likely to congregate.
The house is fairly far from town and from Page’s practice, but, “It’s worth the drive when you see the view and how pretty it is over there,” says Page. Built on a peninsula, the house commands a view of the lake from several angles. The development where Page lives is almost a private oasis, with only half-a-dozen neighbors nearby. And, Page adds, guests who make it out are more than welcome to stay the night with him and drive back to town in the morning.
The overall feel of the house is one of easy, measured living; it’s an incredibly easy place to relax. Most of the rooms are painted in low, calm shades of green, yellow, and cream. “It’s easy for him to come home and live in this,” says George. “He’s not encountering a bright, mustard-yellow wall or a vivid red wall—those are not bad colors, but this is just more soothing to look at.” The floors are also an integral part of the elegant but comfortable atmosphere. The plank floors provided by Auten Hardwood Floors are multi-width, with four different widths of board to give it a varied look. The boards are also hand-scraped and hand-distressed. The boards were distressed prior to installation; Auten then worked with Princeton Construction to further distress the floor as a whole. Having a distressed floor, George explains, is not only an attractive visual feature but also takes the stress out of having hardwood floors, because if anything scrapes or dents the floor it is easy to disguise the mark as part of the original distressing. Finally, the wood was pretreated and then given a custom-blended stain that Page selected to match the overall look of his home.
One important element of Page’s home is the lack of expected, traditional rooms. for instance, there is no formal dining room in the house, and the principal area for dining is the breakfast room adjoining the kitchen. The room’s table is a unique piece made from reclaimed wood. “It was almost like a table you had found in a barn, weathered for years and years and years,” says George. The chandelier that hangs above it is made from an old wine barrel imported from France—it arrived with European wiring and had to be completely rewired when it arrived, but, George says, it finished the room perfectly. a granite-topped island separates the breakfast room from the kitchen, allowing the two rooms to flow comfortably together, as well as providing additional seating. The cabinets by Sims Trim are done in knotty alderwood, and the two types of granite, different sizes and shapes of tile, and stacked stone all add to the visual interest of the room. The stone of the hood and the distressed wood of the cabinets add to the house’s theme and perfectly complement the reclaimed wood table.
Another wonderful element of this home is the music room that replaces a traditional living room. Located at the front of the house with two huge windows to let in plenty of natural light, this room was chosen to house Page’s piano. this presented something of a challenge for the design, George explains, because the piano had a black finish, while most of the elements of this home are brown. he therefore chose a piece of weathered wood furniture to go against the back wall of the room. The piece’s distressed look fit perfectly into the style of the house, while the iron grillwork on the doors of the cabinet are black, matching the piano and helping to tie the whole room together.
The music room is also home to a magnificent handmade, vegetable-dyed Pakichobi rug. The rug was a housewarming gift to Page, and he enlisted George to help him choose a rug that would suit the rest of the house’s décor. it needed to have a bleached out or distressed look in order to fit into the other pieces, George explains, and the one they chose was perfect for that room, with just a hint of color.
Another key element of this home is the master suite, which is home to every luxury imaginable. “That was the one place where everything we dreamed, we put in there,” says George. for instance, the room has its own fireplace across from the bed, and Page can enjoy a cheerful blaze without leaving the comfort of his bedroom. Another unique feature is the unobtrusive television—when not in use, it fits neatly into a custom designed box at the foot of the bed, which is finished in the same linen as the headboard with metal studs to add visual interest. The spacious bedroom opens through double glass doors onto a small terrace that Page can use throughout the year, as removable glass panes can be installed over the screened windows during the winter to keep the space warm.
Perhaps even more luxurious than the bedroom itself, however, is the master bathroom. The whirlpool tub is set into the floor, and a small shelf at the foot allows Page to add some cherished belongings to the room. The shower is a Kohler DTV shower system provided by Ferguson’s Appliances. The Digital Thermostatic Valve system has six watertile body sprays on the wall, a watertile rain head in the ceiling, and two wall-mounted showerheads, as well as a steam system. The different sprays and the temperature of the water can be precisely controlled with the touch of a button. Music can be piped into the shower, just as it can into any room in the house, and the shower can also be programmed to simulate a thunderstorm, sunrise, and so on with a series of sounds and lights while a waterfall trickles down the stacked stone at the back.
Just outside of the house is the final element that transforms this little bit of lakeshore into something close to paradise: the pool. Designed as a collaboration between Harkrider and Mike Detota from able Gunite Pool and Spa, the custom-designed pool has smooth, sweeping sides with an infinity edge facing the lake. unlike typical pools, however, the interior of this pool features a pebble finish from Pebble Tec, a beautiful and extremely durable surface. this does, however, make the pool somewhat darker than a traditional quartz or diamond bright finish. George explains the choice to have a dark interior, saying, “You can’t have crystal blue Bahamas water in a pool sitting against a body of water that is brown. So it needed to have a dark finish on the inside so that if you’re in the basement and you glance through those windows at the right elevation, with the infinity edge, you have an image that the water flows right into Fort Loudon Lake.” according to David Neil of four Seasons Grounds Management, the landscaping in the rear of the house was designed to “feel like one large room.”
This pool is an essential part of the home and was built while the house was still in the foundation stages. this allowed for yet another unique feature of the pool: a portion of it extends under the terrace above, allowing guests to sit out of the sun if they choose or, on a cool day, to enjoy the heat from the nearby fireplace as they relax in the heated water. according to Detota, the salt water pool has two different heaters: an electric heat pump that operates efficiently during the summer by pulling heat from the outside air and a gas heater that keeps the pool and hot tub at a comfortable temperature throughout the winter. In any season this outdoor area is the perfect place for a party. Built into one side of the pool are underwater stools for the swim-up bar, while a lowered area in the tile next to it creates space for a full bar and bartender. The final element that makes the pool complete: the pillars that extend into the water are also equipped with spouts that let a flat sheet of water flow elegantly into the pool.
For so many of the details of this home, says George, “If it wasn’t there, you probably wouldn’t notice it, but because it is there, you definitely do notice it.” Those moments of amazement at the intricacies of detail and design are common here, where the smallest details received just as much attention as the largest elements of the house. George’s enthusiasm for the home is contagious as he continues: “It’s going to take years to know what’s the best spot in this house. there are so many great spots that if I was sitting in one great spot, I would have to be wondering, ‘Is this the best great spot to be in at this moment in time?’ ” The exquisite elements that George and Harkrider worked to create blend perfectly to form an elegant yet comfortable home for Dr. Page.