Highlands, NC Retirement Home

The Site – Highlands, NC

Within a golf community, the site was heavily forested and included an EPA-governed stream, which pushed the house close to the street.  There was little room to transition from road, to driveway, to woodland-facing privacy.  Naturally, the house would stretch horizontally along the stream. This established the home’s most prominent feature: the long rear porch, which is accessible from all the public spaces in the house.

The Style

Highlands Residence Highlands residence Highlands Residence

Wanting inspiration on how to integrate architecture with surroundings, we turned to a similar landscape and the style. This style grew out of the turn-of-the-century resort hotels of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  Firmly in the Victorian tradition but more relaxed and practical, these structures were designed around views and kept detailing simple. The style is wanting not to compete with the real beauty: the landscape.


The home focuses on details such as distinctive double rafters with radius tails, repetitive white-painted bracket-work along second level dormer windows, and pinned mortise-and-tenon connections at open gable framing. They are also expressions of the true structure. Therefore, they impart an honesty that best fits a Highlands, NC mountain setting. The home also features deep roof eaves that “hug” the home. A stone foundation that turn into multiple retaining walls around the property. This helps to “seat” the house in the hillside down to the stream.

Master Suite

fireplacce bench highlands mud room

Keeping the master suite on the first level made good sense for future accessibility. It is located away from the main mass of the house to afford its own private views of the Highlands, NC forests, especially from the master bath tub, in its own bay.  Like an anchor, a massive stone chimney supports three fireplaces, one of which at the rear screened porch, making a comfortable four-season experience.  The mastersuite is partitioned from the public spaces by a parlor which has its own fireplace.

A Modest Home

Highlands back porch living room porch

Due to the one-story massing, the house hides from the exterior that it supports virtually a full second floor and, in total, five bedrooms; two of which are large enough to accommodate two full-size beds.  This is a house with an intimate feeling for a couple celebrating their retirement, but large enough to accommodate a growing family.

Highlands kitchen kitchen


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