Mary Ramsey likes the beach. Her husband, Jeff, favors the mountains. When deciding where to build their future retirement home, the then-Charlotte residents compromised on lake living and searched for a lot in The Cliffs at Keowee Springs.
They found one situated on a knoll with long-range lake and mountain views, bought it in 2018, and started dreaming of a unique design that would blend her modern tastes with his rustic preferences. Their inspiration came from an issue of Mountain Living featuring a Western home both spouses appreciated.
It took the right team of professionals to bring those magazine pages to life. The couple met with several builders but felt a connection with Ridgeline Construction Group, who pointed them to architect Brad Wright of Wright Designs and Terry Gillespie. Owner and principal of Hennessee Haven Interiors, Terry “did the finishing touches and helped us pull it all together,” Mary says.
Their collaborative efforts over 15 months of construction created a refined four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home with an open layout and plenty of outdoor living spaces for the couple and their two-year-old English bulldog, Mackie. It initially was going to be a “second home while we finished our careers,” Mary says, but it became their primary residence in December 2021 when they got the chance to work remotely for their respective companies.
“Sometimes I still am in awe that we live here,” she adds.
Wright checked off the Ramseys’ biggest wish list item—taking every advantage of the views—with plans that incorporated lots of windows and an oversized glass front door. Entering it reveals the great room’s cathedral ceilings and its wall of 12-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling windows. They give the couple beautiful sunset views each evening and have made the room a favorite space.
“All the bedrooms and main spaces in the house have a view of the mountains,” says Wright, whose design placed the large covered porch, where the couple can grill or enjoy a fire, off the dining room “to maximize the views and the natural light in the dining, kitchen, and great room.”
The views steered the couple’s decision to forego window treatments everywhere but the primary bedroom and kitchen. Instead, there are remote-controlled screens that control the light when needed and disappear when not in use, Gillespie says.
Rustic Meets Modern at The Cliffs at Keowee Springs Home
The Ramseys got their desired blend of styles through the mix of materials chosen by Ridgeline’s in-house interior designer, Maggie Madarasz, as well as in the furnishings and decor Gillespie layered in.
Sourced from a Tennessee supplier, reclaimed barn wood covers the ceilings of the primary bedroom, as well as the dining and great rooms. Madarasz also used some of the rough planks as an accent wall in the powder room, where a live-edge wood countertop holds an eye-catching onyx vessel sink.
The kitchen’s Calacatta Monaco quartz counters and clean-lined cabinetry (painted Benjamin Moore’s Silver Satin) juxtapose with its hand-hewn timbers. They became ceiling beams, as well as posts that mark the transition to the dining room. Timbers also trim the wide cased opening between the dining and great rooms. The crisp, contemporary gray paint colors keep the wood from feeling too heavy.
The main level’s custom-stained, circular-sawn white oak floors contrast with the stained and polished concrete floors on the lower level. It has both a casual living space for the couple and inviting, private spaces for guests in the bunk room, two guest bedrooms, and a porch.
Madarasz repeated many of the materials throughout the exteriors and interiors. The same tan-and-brown Tennessee fieldstone in an ashlar pattern on the exterior covers the great room and covered porch fireplaces. Contemporary cable railings show up both in the stairwell to the lower level and the porches.
“I think whatever the material is should be continuous throughout the house to look like it’s been there 100 years,” Madarasz says.
The couple wanted to incorporate a modern feel in their furnishings, Mary says. Gillespie chose a contemporary custom leather sofa and two pairs of upholstered chairs in the great room, kept the couple’s beloved custom dining table, and added angular-patterned rugs to complement the rustic materials. She found the kitchen island’s leather barstools at Pottery Barn to pick up the reclaimed wood’s color.
The interiors, Gillespie says, have “that really old, rich-looking rustic touch, and yet the way everything is done with the light grays in the paint colors and the modern furniture, they really do have a contemporary look.”
She placed the couple’s existing artwork throughout the home to add pops of color, and incorporated blue, a favorite color, through some of the selected lamps and pillows. “We buy what we like,” Mary says of their collection. “A common theme amongst the art that we have is we meet the artists and hear their stories.
Gillespie filled the expansive porch off the dining room with comfortable outdoor furnishings from Summer Classics so the couple can enjoy cool days and evenings around the fireplace. The porch also has a grill and a spot to enjoy meals.
The kitchen’s blue island–painted Sherwin Williams’ Indigo Batik–“is something we both love,” Mary says. A favorite color, blue even influenced the couple’s choice of a Thermador range. “The only reason we have the range we have is because you could get blue knobs,” she adds.
The Strada Medium Round Chandelier in Aged Iron, designed by Kelly Wearstler for Visual Comfort, was hung so it could be seen at night through the window, Gillespie says. Along with the cable railings, it lends a contemporary touch to the stairwell leading to the lower level.
In the dining room, a Jaunty rug and Currey and Co.’s Middleton Bronze Rectangular Chandelier complement the live-edge spalted-maple dining table and bench the homeowners brought from their former Charlotte residence. “Part of what we love about it is the people that did it,” Mary says, referencing wood artist Paul Fuelling of the Boone, N.C.-based Mabel Studios.
The couple shied away from a stone firepit for their patio – one of their favorite spots – instead finding one made of a patinaed thick carbon steel. “We wanted something that was unique and that went with the (house’s) style,” Mary says of the Ohio Flame fire bowl. The choice was a special one because the company is located “close to where I grew up,” she adds.
In the primary bedroom, the geometric lines of the Fran Table Lamps from Flow Décor complement the simple lines of the bed and nightstands from Stickley Furniture. The room’s pitched ceiling is covered in reclaimed barn wood, and its walls are painted in Sherwin Williams’ Anew Gray.
In the great room, Gillespie chose a custom leather sofa and upholstered chairs from Verellen Furniture in neutral tones and placed them atop of rug with shades of blue from Bokara Rugs. The views are “pretty much centered in the windows when you walk into the great room, and that is the reason we have the taller windows and the vaulted ceiling,” Mary says.
The powder bath highlights the couple’s eye for both rustic and contemporary styles in the smooth lines of the onyx vessel sink and the rough textures of the wood accent wall and live-edge countertop. The addition of Troy Lighting’s Park Slope Sconce in Forged Iron also lend a contemporary feel to the room. In the primary bath, the tub sits in a separate space with windows on all sides. Remote-controlled shades provide light control and privacy, while polished cabinet knobs and unique sconces create a modern look.