Place to Belong

Seeking an escape from the summer heat, an Alabama couple recruits Stan Dixon and Betty Burgess to craft a mountain retreat in Cashiers with authentic sense of place

Known as the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains, the charming village of Cashiers, North Carolina, seemed like an ideal place for an Alabama couple to escape the summer heat. Architect D. Stanley Dixon and interior designer Betty Burgess created their seasonal getaway, a rustic abode with native fieldstone walls perched on an outlook facing Yellow Mountain. “We wanted it to look like it belonged and that it had been there for a long time,” Dixon says.

 The natural materials have been carried into the light-filled front foyer, where rough-sawn cedar ceiling beams with a lime-washed finish complement the wood flooring and painted shiplap walls. Linen sheers define the entrance to the spacious formal living room, filtering the strong morning sunlight and softening the stone walls. “[The wife] is a very gentle, gracious person, and that same sort of spirit is replicated through the interiors of the house,” Burgess explains.

 While Burgess worked more closely with the wife on the interior design, there’s plenty for the husband, a wonderful cook and gamesman, to appreciate as well. A custom pewter hood with brass detailing, for example, creates a strong focal point in the kitchen, which is outfitted with leathered granite perimeter counters and a tablelike island with iron legs that’s ideal for meal prep. 

 And located three steps down from the main house, the cozy study features Crab Orchard stone flooring, pine paneled walls and a primitive three-piece stone fireplace mantel. “It comes across as modern and rustic at the same time,” Dixon says. “We wanted something that felt authentic to North Carolina—nothing elaborate or too ornate.”

 Burgess flipped the script in the master suite, incorporating light linen draperies and an upholstered headboard to create a peaceful, serene space. “It’s important to me that a bedroom be a place to recharge,” Burgess says. Near the window, a casual chair and an elegant marble sculpture on a pedestal add a touch of modernity.

 That mix of old and new also characterizes the spacious covered stonewalled porch off of the living room. There, clean-lined woven wicker furnishings live alongside a pair of sculptural white chairs with a decidedly modern edge. Hanging from the beamed ceiling, a chandelier made of twigs and branches adds a natural touch that has attracted nesting birds.

 A respite from the Alabama heat and a gathering place for family and friends, the house is everything the owners envisioned for their mountain retreat. Indeed, the husband sent Burgess a heartfelt letter to express the couple’s gratitude for her work on the project. 

 “I am incredibly grateful to have worked with these clients that trusted and appreciated me on this entire journey,” Burgess says. “You put your heart and soul into a project like this, and when a client really understands that, there’s no bigger reward.”