Cashiers Cool

Interior designer Amy Morris rewrites cabin style with a refined, cozy second home in the mountains of Cashiers.

Atlantans who migrate to Cashiers on the weekends, drawn by rolling mountain views and the calm of country living, tend to gravitate toward creating homes that are cozy, streamlined and fuss-free—a soothing counterpoint to their busy lives in the city.

When an empty-nest couple called upon their longtime interior designer, Amy Morris, to give their four-bedroom home the refined mountain treatment, she understood how to interpret their mandate. “Their home in Atlanta is traditional with a lot of color and embellishments,” says Morris. “This house needed to be simple and warm, with minimal fuss.”

Because he wanted contemporary and she requested traditional, Morris immediately went to task to reach a common ground. “The house’s bones don’t lend themselves to contemporary style, so we compromised with clean furnishings, elegant fabrics and a mix of simplified items,” says Morris. Shiplap walls and refinished wood beams provide a casual backdrop in this home, so Morris played off that feel in the living room by employing a chocolate mohair sectional and a linen chair and ottoman for a luxurious, but low-key look. Antique tree engravings offer a subtle nod to the mountain setting and illustrate Morris’s uncontrived simplicity.

Contributing further to the home’s laidback ambiance is the serene color palette. “I canvassed the neutral color wheel,” says Morris, whose swatchbook for this project included shades of brown, grey and white. In the living room, the scheme affords the advantage of showcasing the cabin’s stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised, gray-painted cabinets and white marble countertops in the kitchen offer a sleek, streamlined space for the weekend retreat. Rarely deviating from the soft palette—save for the geometric pop of a floor rug—Morris went rogue in the guest room above the garage. “After stripping away existing green-and-white toile wallpaper, we began to see the beautiful shape of the room,” she says. To highlight the architecture, she added tongue and groove paneling and black paint “to make it graphic.”

In lieu of pattern play, Morris employed texture to create drama in the neutral setting. “I use pattern sparingly,” says Morris, who prefers to create a feeling of depth with texture, in this case, mohair with linen, and velvet with leather. The master bedroom is a study in her layered aesthetic, from metallic linen draperies and a tufted velvet headboard to a metal chandelier and a lacquered wood chest. “I like to make sure there’s a great balance,” says the designer. “The result is so luxurious looking. You definitely wouldn’t distinguish this room as being in a mountain house.”

In an effort to go more polished than pastoral, Morris’s signature touch included the addition of large-scale lighting (her philosophy: “the bigger, the better”) and dressmaker details. The designer loves creating a focal point through lighting, whether it’s a showstopping lantern in the dining room or the unexpected placement of sconces flanking the kitchen sink. In the living room, the designer’s penchant for nailhead trim and tufting is on display: trim applied to the curtains introduces pattern, while diamond-shaped tufting on the sofa and ottoman strikes a classic note. “These small details elevate the design; without them, certain pieces aren’t as eye-catching,” she says.

Ultimately, Morris designed the house using the blueprint of a primary residence. “We weren’t looking for cabin decor; we were simply seeking special pieces,” she says. “Plus, we had to replace the animal heads that were covering the walls.”