This Carolina Cabin Is Filled with Warm Rustic Style and French Country Antiques
The inimitable designer Charles Faudree brings color, comfort, and a whole lot of heart to one of his final projects.
Move-ins were icing on the cake for interior designer Charles Faudree. "He'd walk around a room with armloads of things and start arranging, hanging pictures, climbing on chairs, and standing on ladders to adjust things," says Linda James. "It was magical to watch him transform a room."
Faudree, who died in November 2013, was legendary for his charming American take on French country style. His was a wonderfully warm and pattern-rich look that celebrated all the accoutrements of a French estate without the pretentiousness.
"We loved everything he did," says Linda, who, with her husband, Darwin, first worked with Faudree several years ago on their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the designer also lived.
A few years after the Tulsa project, Faudree invited Linda and Darwin (now friends as much as clients) to see a designer showhouse he was decorating in Cashiers, North Carolina. The 5,200-square-foot mountain home was constructed from two log cabins that dated to the turn of the 19th century. The structures were moved in the 1960s from Tennessee by a previous landowner and reconstructed on a 43-acre lot by Reflections Lake.
"Charles loved the property and was trying his best to get us to buy it," Linda says. "He knew our style at that point, and he was such a pied piper that he could talk us into anything," she adds with a laugh. He shrewdly invited them to visit Cashiers in August when it was 75 degrees there and 110 degrees in Oklahoma.
"The more we looked, the more we realized the house was a great choice for us," Linda says. "Charles wanted to decorate it so badly that, honestly, we purchased it in part because he loved it so much." Faudree was enamored with the house's history and inherent character, Darwin adds.
Cozy Rustic Style
The designer often said that the most successful designs were less about fabric and color choices and more about reflecting a home's soul: the character and personalities of those who lived there. This log cabin, snuggled into the woods by a lake and boasting hand-hewn log walls, a rustic laurel-branch stair rail, and wide-plank wood floors, was loaded with character and soul.
Soon after the Jameses bought the property, Faudree launched into choosing fabrics for upholstery and draperies, laying the groundwork for the home's cozy and lushly layered looks. In classic Faudree fashion, he mixed an array of patterns, choosing those that shared common colors and changing up the scale of motifs to ensure all happily played together.
He picked menswear plaid on a wing chair with nailhead trim, big vine botanicals on windows and chairs, ticking-inspired blue-and-green stripes on draperies, and animal prints jazzing up accent chairs and throw pillows. "There is plenty of fringe, trim, and gimp, too—the things that set Charles's work apart," Linda says.
Armchairs covered in "Wheatflower" from Bennison Fabrics and a new Oushak rug proved irresistible to photographer Jenifer Jordan's two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the same breed of dog owned by designer Charles Faudree.
Linda insisted on plenty of color—no neutral palette for this house. "We have a formal French house in Tulsa," says Linda, who owns an antiques shop there and imports many French antiques. "We wanted this one in Cashiers to be more casual and have a European hunt feel."
Taking cues from the wooded lake setting, Faudree chose warm rust tones, woodsy greens, autumn golds, and his famously favorite French blues. His scheme started with large-scale nature-inspired patterns that showcase the colors, which are then repeated in various iterations (and with some slight shifts in hues) in stripes and plaids. Trims pick up the beat as well, with exuberant fringe on pillows and clusters of rust-and-lime-green tassels bouncing along the edges of the draperies.
Drawing on the Jameses' collections of antique furnishings and bringing in some of his own finds, including a pair of painted corner cabinets for the dining room, Faudree filled the rooms with a thoughtful balance of painted and stained tables, chests, and cabinets.
Custom antler chandeliers are a nod to the woodsy setting, while corner cupboards speak to a formal European aesthetic.
Repurposed with Style
An ornately carved antique hutch, reminiscent of Black Forest furniture, reigns in the den, and a charming French butcher's shop table with a wood backsplash embellished with carved cows' heads snuggles into a corner in the kitchen.
"I bought that butcher's table at a shop in Dallas because I loved it. I wasn’t even sure where I was going to put it," Linda admits. She and Faudree made space for it next to the range, and a simple shelf above displays antique serving pieces and Linda's collection of copper saucepans. Near the butcher's table, vintage armoire doors were retrofitted to serve as kitchen pantry doors. Faudree frequently repurposed antiques or architectural salvage into furnishings to create the feeling of a country French farmhouse kitchen.
French Kitchen Details
The renovated kitchen was designed around an 18th-century butcher shop work table that Linda James found at a Dallas shop. New limed-oak cabinets were custom-made to complement the antique sideboard, with rustic, timeworn finishes and French furniture details, such as the scalloped toe kicks. Cabinet hardware is from Top Knobs. Café curtains at the sink windows are "Leluke" in green and red from Charles Faudree's collection for Vervain. The island top is granite, and the perimeter counters are honed marble.
Linda, who imports French antiques for her store, displays "Woodland" transferware from Spode and silver serving pieces.
Buffet and Bar
An antique French buffet topped with marble serves as a bar. "Acorn" in green by Rose Cumming for Dessin Fournir adorns the walls.
An antique settee upholstered in "Mansfield Linen" from Lee Jofa introduces a wash of blue to the bedroom.
Flea Market Finds
The starburst mirror above the antique French cabinet was scored at a Paris flea market.
Rustic Yet Refined
The rustic style of the home didn't rule out refined, however, and Faudree deftly blended both with wit and style. Antique blue-and-white china plates and a gilded mirror hang on rough-and-tough log walls. Enormous manor-appropriate tassels dangle on quaint chests with peeling paint.
Those signature touches and flourishes (elements of surprise, humor, personality, and soul) were what made Faudree's designs so endearing. And enduring.
Outdoor Living Room
The project justified a couple of shopping trips to France with Faudree. "That was the highlight for us," Linda says. "When you went to the Paris flea market with Charles, he'd see things no one else would. He just had an eye for all things beautiful: art, pottery, and anything with antlers or horns."
That penchant played perfectly to this house, and Faudree asked his artisan brother-in-law, Dale Gilman, to make antler chandeliers for the dining room and an outdoor sitting room. Even a simple wall bracket is embellished with a pair of antlers. "They were perfect in this rustic European-style house," Linda says.
An outdoor living area added by a previous owner has laurel branch railings and a stone fireplace. Faudree furnished the covered porch room with wicker and rustic wood chairs and tables and an antler chandelier.
Rattan chairs and a custom swing covered in burlap offer easy seating on the front porch, which looks to the lake.
Lovely Lake House
A stone walkway leads from the front porch down to the edge of Reflections Lake. The lake is aptly named, homeowner Darwin James says, because the house, mountains, and tall trees are reflected on the water's surface. Dormers were added to bring more light into the upstairs spaces, where there are four bedrooms.
An Enduring Legacy
In Traditional Home magazine's 25-plus years, there are few designers we have loved more than Charles Faudree. We featured his projects often, and they were always reader favorites. Jenifer Jordan photographed many of those homes and published six books with Faudree. In this final book, Charles Faudree: Country French Legacy, Faudree fans will remember the master and glean ideas for bringing his charming style and warmth into their homes today.