“You can learn so much about someone’s decorating style just by peeking in their closet,” says interior designer Francie Hargrove. “I keep mine stocked with staples like crisp white cotton shirts, tailored black pants, and comfy cashmere sweaters that I’ll gussy up with a bold printed scarf, a chunky statement bangle, or a pair of pointy-toe pumps with a little bling on the buckle. I use the same approach to pull together a well-dressed room. I start with a classic foundation, and then pile on stylish accessories that make it pop and make it personal.”
Anyone who is familiar with Francie’s work can attest to the success of her method. For a project in Cashiers, North Carolina, she collaborated with developer Shannon Hargrove (who also happens to be her husband) to design and build a home that combines the rugged beauty of its woodland surroundings with the refined aesthetic of the couple who lives there. At 4,500 square feet, it would be a stretch to call it a cottage, but the warmth and patina of the architecture help convey that cozy sentiment.
Outside, a weathered cedar-shake roof and burnt hickory–tinted siding blur the line between the façade and the towering trees. To distinguish between them, Francie painted the millwork light and bright hues. She chose sky blue for the shutters and cloud white for the entry doors and graceful archways beneath the copper-topped portico.
Inside, hardy, wholesome materials prevail and ground the spacious, sunlit rooms. On the pine floors, a custom stain of walnut, ash, and espresso hues, formulated on-site, deflects the wood’s orangey undertones. The rich color and extra-wide planks balance the rough-hewn beams that brace the plaster-coated ceiling. Finally, a soft white shiplap with nickel-gap spacing wraps the walls. The design choice breaks up the brown tones while offering depth and movement that painted drywall can’t provide.
“Texture plays a part in all of my projects, but it had a leading role in this one,” says Francie. “A new house can feel a little too shiny and polished, especially in a mountain setting. So I incorporated grainy, honed, and mottled elements to instantly promote an aged appeal. They also make the house feel at home on the rocky terrain by connecting the indoors with the outdoors.”
Scale was also a major factor in the design. The house has 12-foot ceilings and vast expanses of windows and French doors. Fixtures and furnishings had to be substantial yet subtle enough not to overpower the views framed by billowy, unlined linen draperies.
Oversize custom and contemporary lighting illuminates the rooms, while a curated collection of French antiques, as well as pieces from Italy and Belgium, anchors them. The grand size and elegant detailing of the gilded mirrors and walnut case pieces, tables, and chairs allow the rooms to feel full without a lot of fuss or frill. Luxe upholstered pieces in soft, neutral linens help redefine the stereotypical notion of mountain style, while their plush, generous proportions maintain a sense of comfort that is synonymous with it.
“Dainty fauteuils and pretty little settees are lovely to look at and will always have a place in my projects,” Francie says. “But they are not conducive to kicking back and relaxing by the fire with a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night. Mountain living is all about enjoying simple pleasures such as those, so a mountain home should be designed to make those casual moments chic.”