Archives for May 2010

4 Crowningway Drive

Let me introduce you to fellow blogger Troy Winterrowd, dear folks of TPH.  I recently found myself googling “Asheville modern architects,” just because.  There was Modern Asheville, top of the list, a blog about all things modern in Asheville, North Carolina.  Usually Craftsman or log cabins come to mind when one thinks about homes in Appalachia, but Troy shows that modern thrives on the ridges and in the valleys of these mountains.  With a degree in architecture and previous experience as creative director for companies such as Walt Disney and Sony, Troy now sells real estate in the Asheville area, with a special emphasis on the modern aesthetic and its contemporary interpretations.  He is also a champion of the arts–love that!

I clicked around feverishly on his site that first night–as we bloggers often do when we find someone with common interests.  After I saw my orange tray on one of his posts and a certain time-capsule house, I decided we should meet.  So I sent him an email and a few days later we were shaking hands in a parking lot off Montford Avenue.

Do you love a good time-capsule house like I do?  Do you use the term “Brady Bunch house” in a non-pejorative way, in fact it is a term of endearment?  Good!  Let’s take a tour of 4 Crowningway Drive, the house I first met on Troy’s blog.

As you approach the house, you immediately recognize the hallmarks of a 1965 contemporary home.  There is so much to love.

Do you want to ring that fabulous rusted starburst doorbell and go inside?

The entry is a split-level delight in iron and stone.  I immediately thought about Lauren’s entry of Pure Style Home.

It would make me feel a lot better if I’m not the only one thinking of Chandler’s nubbin in this photo.


Detail of entry wallpaper mural.  We’ve got hints of turquoise, people!


At the top of the landing is the living room with the deck that looks out over long-range mountain views and downtown Asheville in the foreground.

While I am not fortunate enough to see the original furnishings of the house, I have a pretty good idea what sat in front of the windows here…for years and years and years.  This was a generation who liked their things to stay put.  In a way I can’t articulate, this pulls at my heartstrings.

The view.  Impressive even on a rainy day.


The photo that made me stop in my tracks on Troy’s blog:

Cheery, without regrets, confident, fabulous turquoise appliances.

Detail of the wallpaper, happily wed for 45 years to that turquoise refrigerator.

Yes, it is indeed a built-in record player on the kitchen wall.   You know little Bobby played deejay while his mother sipped her evening martini and got the meatloaf on.  It was just another night of numbing the mind to the sounds of The Righteous Brothers.

If I were lucky enough to buy this home, I would so keep this wallpaper.  Without a doubt.  And the cabinets are in excellent shape, too.  I would modernize with some preservation of the past.

The stairs at the far end of the kitchen, leading down to the daylight basement.


Downstairs you find the peach bedroom with coordinating bath.

When you like turquoise, you like turquoise.

Detail of upper floor bathroom wallpaper.


While I am a lover of all houses, this is one that I can see myself in and easily call home.  I would go after an organic glamour look.  I think that would fit well in the mountains–something like Jennifer Aniston’s house as shown in Architectural Digest, March 2010, the work of designer Stephen Shadley.

So maybe the kitchen wallpaper would be a hard fit to keep…


The house at 4 Crowningway Drive sits on a killer lot with killer views.  And, not to mention, the neighborhood is quite tony and filled with others who lovingly care for their modern ranches.  Check out the listing for all the details.

Troy, it was a pleasure meeting you–and thank you for a fun afternoon!  Make sure you stop by his blog and say hi!

24 Kimberly Avenue, Part II

We are exploring the tower, a 2003 addition, of Kells Castle in Asheville, North Carolina.  If you missed the tour of the original 1949 house, check out Part I.

The tower connects to the original house with a stunning glass column.A metal spiral staircase links the four new floors.

Architect Patti Glazer designed the new structure, which won the Griffin Award in 2005.  At mid-level, the new addition connects to the original house via  a suspended concrete bridge.  Does  your house have a suspended concrete bridge?  Yeah, neither does mine.

Most of the floors in the tower are polished concrete, and ceilings are corrugated metal with exposed steel beams.  The living room is tiled in slate.

A treehouse room, the new master bedroom sits on the the fourth floor.

The master bathroom has a clawfoot tub and steamroom. 

I love how the lady of the house hangs her earrings by the mirror.

An additional bedroom on the third floor:

A compact laundry room sits behind a red glass door–another example of fun doors in the house.

Details here seem thoughtful and meaningful…like a dishtowel draped casually over the railing.

On the bottom floor I found another unique door.

Two large terraces sprawl out the back of Kells Castle.

The homeowner said that parties often spill outside on the terraces.  I can see why.  Do you see what is hanging here on the wall?

Hula hoops.  I need three of these hanging on my wall outside for impromptu hip swiveling.  What fun people live at Kells Castle.

One of the garden gates.


There is a marked transition between the old and the new, but a delightful playfulness and eclecticism permeates the space on the whole.  While the original structure is old, it is not old-fashioned and certainly wasn’t traditional in 1949.  It makes sense that the tower addition draws from the same creative well in a contemporary way.  I think Rose Brown and Douglas Ellington would approve of how the house has evolved.  Don’t we all hope our houses continue living after we are gone?  I think I love this house because it reminds me of my own dream house in Atlanta.  Did you see it on the Modern Atlanta house tour last year?  If I ever added on to the cottage, it would look like that.  I wonder if BLDGS works for a good vegan lasagna.

Interested in making Kells Castle your home?  Check out the listing for more details.  Thank you to Sabine and the homeowners for their time and graciousness.

24 Kimberly Avenue, Part I

Last week I met again with realtor Sabine in Asheville, NC, for another house tour-Kells Castle.  Located in the Grove Park area on 24 Kimberly Avenue, the unique cement block and brick house sits away from the street behind a curtain of green.  Many thanks to the gracious homeowner for greeting us and then allowing us to roam around at whim.

Architect Douglas Ellington designed this home for his friend, the artist Rose Brown, and her husband Sanford in 1949.  Clay Griffith writes in his book An Inventory of Douglas Ellington’s Architectural Work in Western North Carolina:

Rose Brown, an accomplished painter and designer, took the inspiration for the residence from the Book of Kells, which Ellington had loaned to her, and from the architecture of medieval Irish monasteries.   She reportedly challenged Ellington that he could not build her a house of cinder block that she would like.  Inspired by the challenge issued to him, Ellington constructed the house of exposed cinder block with brick accents and banding and covered with a red tile roof.

Ellington is also the architect of the art deco S & W Cafeteria in downtown Asheville–a favorite building of mine.

There are two front entrances, both arched doors with a diamond motif.

One door leads to Brown’s former art studio and the other to a small mural-covered foyer.  Brown painted the mural herself, inspired by the complex illustrations of the Book of Kells.More hand-painted designs cover the ceiling of the great room, to the right from the foyer.

I didn’t have a chance to ask the homeowner about the collections here in the room, ones that imply an affinity with travel to faraway lands.  The total effect here does not appear precious but loved and evolved over time.  The room sets the tone for the whole house, an air of whimsical bohemian academia.

Kells Castle is listed for sale, and according to the seller’s pamphlet, the tiered iron chandeliers are originally from the Dupont Estate in Florida.  The home’s second owner installed the grand fixtures in the 1990s.  I can’t imagine the room without them.The homeowner told me and Sabine of the fabulous parties she and her husband have thrown in this room with a disco ball and strobe lights for dancing.  She also said that Rose Brown, the original owner, used to hold seances in this great room.  Brown urged those who attended the seances to write their name and birthday on the walls of the basement stairwell.  Here the names still remain, up and down the risers.
On the wall opposite the wall of names is the astrological chart and verses painted by Brown.

On the other side of the foyer is the kitchen.

Brown’s former studio soaks up light from a skylight on the other side of the great room.  I love this room–feels very theatrical to me.  There is a piano, stairs that look like a stage, a curtain drawn to the side…

…and Juliet’s balcony is ready for Act II.

A Calder-esque mobile hangs in front of a painting made by Asheville artist Benjamin M. Betsalel.
Up the stairs a little window looks out back under a swath of fringed fabric, informally installed with tacks.
The room at the top of the stairs:

One of my favorite things about the house is something simple:  doors throughout are different, unique, and thoughtful.


Kells Castle teases with two personalities–one with a storied past and the other with a contemporary multi-storied perspective.  The current owners built a tower addition in 2003 that weaves in and out of the original structure at different levels, creating this seemingly magical place of time and space.  Don’t miss Part II of Kells Castle when we explore the tower.  Thank you to the homeowners and Sabine!