Paradise Found in the Leatherwood Mountains
Chuck and Mary Bliss chose to build their second home of 7400 square feet in the Leatherwood Mountains of North Carolina, near Wilkesboro, Blowing Rock, and Boone. Their goal was to create a unique home with great attention to detail, and to pay careful attention to environmental factors including sourcing local materials and using local craftsmen, as well as incorporating energy efficient systems as much as possible.
The couple bought a 15-acre parcel eyeing the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. “The heavily forested land provides complete privacy from neighboring lots, but, with proper siting and selective clearing, the mountain views are spectacular,” Chuck points out….
The Blisses’ aim was to create out-of-the-ordinary architectural features. “The stairs are ‘floating,’” Chuck explains. “We have Juliet balconies. Ross implemented the construction techniques to make these ideas work for us. And there is a rooftop garden, or ‘living roof,’ over the screened porch, where native species are grown using xeriscaping principles.”
The garden is accessed from a top-floor guest bedroom. A timber frame supports the garden roof, which is lined with a waterproof membrane and filled with a lightweight soil mix. Irrigation and drainage systems are built into the garden, which can host plant species with a root depth of one foot….
The couple’s priority was a home with minimal visual disruptions, keeping nature the center of attention… Mary explains, “Chuck and I wanted to bring the outdoors in, with expanses of glass that capture the view.” To this end, the great room was enhanced with a prow gable to allow an increased radius of views from where the homeowners and guests spend the most time….
The homeowners used natural building materials, such as reclaimed wood, granite countertops and a stone fireplace, all of which matched Leatherwood’s rustic tone. Troyer credits a network of people that take down old barns and other structures to supply materials. “Utilizing reclaimed materials is not an exact science, like ordering dimensional wood from a lumberyard,” he says. “There is a lot of collaborating that goes on to pull it all together.”
Chuck and Mary also made purchasing American-made products a high priority. “If the Blisses found an international product that they liked, they would ask for comparisons in America and almost always make a decision towards the American-made product,” Napier notes.
Whenever possible, Chuck and Mary commissioned local craftsmen. “These mountains have a lot of talented people living in them,” says Troyer. “You get to know them and their specialties over the years, always looking at how to integrate their work into your own projects.”
The house is positioned for optimal passive solar gain. The heating and cooling system implements a maximum efficiency air-to-air heat pump. Solar thermal panels on the roof provide BTUs that are introduced into a duct system and distributed throughout the home for supplemental hot water and baseboard heat. “There are provisions for a future photovoltaic system to create electricity,” Chuck says, “and the house is plumbed for reuse of rainwater and gray water.”
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