Mountain Modern

A fresh take on cottage style yields a winsome mountain retreat in Cashiers, North Carolina.

This is no ordinary mountain cottage. Light, bright and modern to boot, there’s nary a flannel pillow or knotty pine table in sight—and that was exactly the plan. “We didn’t want our grandmother’s mountain house,” says homeowner Bonneau Ansley, founder of Ansley Atlanta Real Estate and Ansley Hewett Custom Homes. Located in Cashiers’ covetable Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club, he and wife Jennifer had something quite different in mind for their family vacation home. “Ultimately,” says Bonneau, “we were seeking something modern that incorporated our natural surroundings in a very understated manner. ‘Mountain modern’ was our vision.”

To bring this concept to life, the couple turned to South of Market proprietor Kay Douglass, giving her free rein over all decorating decisions. She opted for a whimsical approach that played with scale and incorporated tactile textures. “Second homes afford you the opportunity to stretch your imagination and take some chances,” says Douglass. For instance, in lieu of a solid wall to separate the home’s dining nook and kitchen, Douglass and design associate Dixie Peeples specified a sleek six-pane window. “We love the sense of magic it creates. It reminds us of someone peering in through the window of a Parisian bakery,” says Douglass.

Her penchant for winsome details is also evident in the color scheme. Strategic splashes of color infuse the cottage with character and help soften the home’s modern verve. The main living level took its color cue from a vintage red lacquer coffee table that serves as the centerpiece of the family room. This room is also where the Ansleys’ modern directive began to take shape. On either end of the fireplace, Douglass nixed the traditional idea of bookshelves in favor of a simple barnwood backdrop to keep it clutter-free. She outfitted the rest of the space with clean-lined furnishings arranged in a symmetrical fashion, a design formula that she used throughout the home—bedrooms and baths included. Wooden beams and plank walls also provide a common thread and give a nod to the cottage’s rustic setting.

With entertaining also top of mind for the Ansleys, Douglass maximized space at every opportunity. A mix of seating options in the dining room allows up to 12 place settings at the table, while folding glass doors in the family room double the entertaining space by creating a seamless transition to the covered porch. “Giving them the ability to entertain a large group of people at one time was really important,” says Douglass. And this didn’t exclude the home’s youngest occupants, daughter Blakely and son Beau. Despite their bedrooms’ small footprints, Douglass creatively configured multiple beds into the rooms’ layouts, allowing the children to host sleepovers for cousins and friends.

“This cottage has many great elements of surprise,” says Douglass. “And that’s certainly what a vacation home should be—happy and unexpected.” 

INTERIOR DESIGN Kay Douglass, Kay Douglass Interiors. (404) 995-0802;