Wide Forest Views Make This Mountain Retreat Feel Like a Sophisticated Treehouse
Picture postcards only wish they boasted views this pretty. Nestled among leafy hardwoods and fragrant pines on a placid lake in the North Carolina mountains, Drew and Beth Quartapella's home lifts them far above the tumult of the workaday world. "It's such a beautiful setting, and our home makes the most of it," Beth says. "It was built in harmony with nature."
Honoring the land was indeed architect Ken Pursley's almost-sacred mission. The home's footprint steps confidently along on a steep ridgeline, always just one room deep to usher lake and mountain views into every space. "Nothing blocks the sightlines," he says.
Those sightlines unfurl as unhurriedly as sweet Southern molasses, pouring across a floor plan that amplifies the drama of the steep site. The perspective changes with each step, from the bird's-eye view framed by reclaimed timbers in the platform-like entry, down three stairs to a soaring great room, and descending even farther to a cantilevered deck nearly hidden among the leaves. A surround constructed of reclaimed timbers establishes a cozy, organic mood.
"It makes the 20-foot walk from the front door to the deck an emotional journey," Pursley says. "There's what you see and also what you feel."
What the Quartapellas feel most, Beth says, is peace. Their home provides the unrivaled tranquility of nature. "It's like you're in a treehouse," she says.
When they open the accordion doors that link the great room to the deck, they can roll down a hidden screen, transforming the entire living area into a giant screen porch. Stepping down from the living room, the deck cantilevers out into the trees, providing stunning views of the forest and the lake beyond. "You hear crickets chirping, smell the pine trees, and feel the breeze," Pursley says.
Like the breeze, the living area flows gently to the kitchen and out to a screen porch where dinners are savored among the stars.
A walnut-and-steel table and hand-painted bench were custom-made to fit the breakfast nook.
Pursley ensured that nature is always near. He and architect Mark Kline, also of Pursley Dixon Architecture, brought the outside in with their choice of materials. "The wood and stone are things you would find on the path to the lake," Pursley says. "We took nature and reassembled it inside."
The home showcases local wood and stone—and the talent of carpenters, timber framers, and masons from the North Carolina mountains. "It was a cool thing to witness their work," Pursley says. "They moved the giant stones we used for the fireplaces like they were little pebbles."
Taking its cue from the materials, the home's palette also nods to the restful hues of stone, bark, and crisp autumn leaves. "I love the colors we used," Beth says. "They create a peaceful aura—it's calm and rejuvenating. Everything feels comfortable."
Interior designer Kathy Smith called on muted browns, subtle creams, and soft greens to whisper through rooms that emphasize cozy texture rather than bold color. "I didn't want anything to speak louder than nature," she says.
Antiques (many discovered in nearby Cashiers, North Carolina) accentuate the home's feeling of warmth, character, and timelessness. Artwork and artisan-made pieces, including tables and light fixtures, celebrate local craftsmanship.
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A custom chaise slips into the window niche in Drew and Beth's sanctuary, where curtains bring in a hint of green. A rustic chest was unearthed in a local antiques store.
Real bark serves as wallcovering in the powder room. A concrete sink adds to the textural story.
Smith created a special hideaway space for Beth, a quiet spot where she can savor a good book and unwind with a glass of wine. The antique chair, made of carved wood and embossed leather, is from Circa Interiors & Antiques in Charlotte.
The cozy home is both a comfortable cocoon where Drew and Beth can enjoy time with family and friends and a launchpad for outdoorsy pursuits, including hiking, cycling, and water sports. "It's an escape that represents the best of all worlds," Pursley says.
"We treasure the quiet little coves, the trees, the wildlife," Beth says. "I can't imagine a happier place."