Nantahala Mountain Retreat

Project Description

The project is a modest 1,000-square-foot modern retreat in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. The project site is a steeply sloping 6 acre ridge parcel that borders the Nantahala National Forest mountain ranges. The inspiration for the house is from Japanese bungalow houses. The planning goals were to embrace and engage the surrounding landscape, capitalizing on the views of ridge line, treetops, and rock face; and to expand the square footage by merging interior space with exterior decks.

The main living space is an open plan living/kitchen/dining area with reclaimed wide plank oak flooring ; the main focus is the window wall and view A glass panel door recesses into the wall opening the kitchen to the perch deck. A large reclaimed wood and iron table rests over the kitchen island and easily rolls out to the perch deck for outdoor dining. The wall opposing the view and ceilings are board and batten black stained pine that are inspired by the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban and balance well with the room’s neutral color palate and saturation of natural light. The finishes are extended in the bedrooms and bath and are furnished minimally with Japanese-inspired bedding.

The extreme slope of the site required thoughtful use of foundation and support posts, braced to stand up to high winds. Windows and doors also had to meet high wind load requirements required by the local codes. A collaboration with our strucural consultant resulted in an integrated solution for the double joist overhangs on the upper portions of the roof that would withstand the wind load.

An additional challenge was to create a high impact property with a limited budget. Less expensive black stained board and batten pine siding was used instead of sho sugi ban charred wood,to create the Japanese-inspired look. Meticulous roofing details were achieved using less expensive material, including corrugated metal roofing that was treated to rust quickly, and outriggers crafted from standard pressure treated lumber. The deck rails were created using pressure treated top cap, hog pen fencing, with flat bar steel supports combined in a modern and surprising way on both decks and the entrance bridge.

The rolling table over the island and multiple tree stump stools configured as a coffee table allow for flexible uses of furnishings throughout the space.

Logistical challenges included building in a remote location and managing the build from afar, understanding that work hours and practices differ in a small mountain town and are highly dependent on unpredictable weather patterns. Modern details are not customary in the region, and were often overlooked or flawed in execution, adding to the overall timeline and cost of the project. The project certainly provided an appreciation of small spaces, and how to maximize their use and efficiency. Perhaps the greatest lesson we learned is to thoroughly confer with contractor references ahead of time to get an up-front understanding of the subs that are planed to use. The client plans to continue to build further on the site.