Paula Benton’s Den
Cocoon Interior Design, Brevard
In today’s streamlined, eco-chic climate, not many clients clamor for a hunting-themed room. Paula Benton admits this with a warm but unapologetic laugh. She says she’s never designed another space quite like the handsome den she and her husband, Dr. G. Ruffin Benton Jr., enjoy in their Brevard home.
Burnished and masculine, the palette is framed by tongue-and-groove cherry wall paneling and anchored by a pair of suede chaise-longue style chairs from Rudy’s Furniture Warehouse in Asheville. Those pieces attend a lush Bernhardt sofa; complementary (but happily not matching) throw pillows up the comfort level on an already sumptuous piece.
Paula — a self-described “pillow person” — believes a couch must be cushy and highly nappable: “You should be able to just sink into the comfort of it in the evening.” The den, while sophisticated, is a deeply personal room for the couple. A quarry of hunting-dog and pheasant portraits cover the primary wall, each shimmering with backstory: many of the paintings were passed down from Dr. Benton’s father, a lieutenant-colonel army surgeon in the second World War, via his European travels: Dr. Benton III cared for soldiers injured in the Battle of Normandy. “The prints are very precious to us,” says Paula.
Still, she lightens the atmosphere a bit with a bobcat-print ottoman, an utterly current metal-and-hemp-rope chandelier and a striking lamp she made herself using a piece of angelic statuary as a base.
Quoting Alabama architect Bobby McAlpine, Paula says that a home — or at least one cherished room therein — should act as a “cure, always — a safe place to mend from the demands of an insisting world.”