Second Time Around
Old meets new in the home’s stylish kitchen. Dark Brazilian wood cabinets with glass fronts provide an ideal showcase for Vicky’s collection of fine vintage English porcelain.
Photo by David Dietrich
“Love’s more comfortable, the second time you fall,” observes the old Frank Sinatra chestnut. Indeed, there’s much to be said for finding romance further down the road of life. The upside is that years of experience bring a greater appreciation for what is truly important. The downside is that you also bring with you all the “stuff” gathered along the way.
Such was the case for newlyweds John and Vicki Held. Each had been previously married and owned a fully furnished home in the Charlotte area. Although they share many similar interests — a love of the outdoors and a passion for creating and collecting art among them — the Held’s decorating sensibilities differ significantly. Vicki favors traditional styling; John prefers a modern aesthetic.
So when the couple decided to purchase a home in the mountains, they were pleased to find a cottage in Connestee Falls, near Brevard, that offered the potential to address both perspectives. Featuring lake and mountain views, the 1980s house was genteel country at heart, but had also received several upgrades to suit the sellers’ taste. “There were some contemporary architectural details — rounded walls, lots of glass — yet it offered some opportunity to be a bit more traditional,” recalls Vicki. “So we decided to try to work with our two different styles in a house that had two different styles.”
Maturity often brings wisdom, and the Helds knew they would need professional help with the project. The seller recommended that they contact Mary Adams and Paula Benton of Cocoon Interior Design. “We called and they said ‘Oh yes…we know that house’ and we knew we were working with the right people,” says Vicki. As it happens, Adams and Benton had coordinated the interiors for the former owners.
One of the major improvements the designers had made was to revamp the outdated kitchen, paring down a ceiling-high connecting hallway wall to create a more open feel. Working with Jennings Builder’s Supply, the team installed a custom marble backsplash in a geometric mosaic pattern and rich, butter-cream hued granite counters. The original, generic cabinets were replaced with sleek showcases in glass and dark Brazilian woods.
The former owners had favored bold color for the walls, but the Helds responded to a more subdued, earth-toned palette. To welcome the new owners, a warm rosy-beige was chosen, enhancing the variations of the ever-changing light in the ample great room and providing a more neutral backdrop for their collection of art.
Given the views, they chose to refrain from window treatments and allow the interior space to visually blend with the outdoors. “We wanted to keep it open and airy,” says Benton, “not stark — but clean. It would have been easy to cram the space full with the client’s things, but when you have this much light, it calls for celebrating that openness.”
For the couple, then, the main order of business was to edit their possessions down to a few, quintessential pieces. “Blending our things was a real challenge because we had not only our own furnishings, but many pieces inherited from our families,” Vicki recalls. “We went back to Charlotte and took photographs of about 35 pieces of furniture that we felt might work in the new house. Mary and Paula culled through them, gave us their choices and, in the end, we only brought nine pieces of furniture for the main living area.”
The designers supplemented the final selections with elements that deftly unify aspects of both sensibilities: a confident Tahoe wool carpet from Rug & Home with classic intonations that picks up on the colors of the couple’s existing furniture; sculptural, rustic chandeliers from Currey & Company; a sturdy Henredon wood inlay and iron dining table surrounded by custom deer hide chairs from High Country Furniture.
The effect is cohesive — familiar, yet new. “Paula and Mary are visionary,” says Vicki, “They were very confident in their recommendations. If they had not been guiding us through the process, it could have been very stressful for us.”
Adams and Benton give credit to the homeowners for their contributions. “John and Vicki both have a good eye. They liked the bones of the house and felt it would allow them to express themselves — separately and collectively,” Adams observes. “They wanted a new life here, so they were willing to cast off many items that represented the old life and begin again.”
Begin again in a beautiful space that delights them both…the second time around.