When it came to updating a mountain home in North Carolina, Barrie and Matt Benson found inspiration in the family's personality and style—as well as the house's history.
For the Bensons, the right mix for this project hinges on the right push-pull between traditional and fresh and feminine and masculine. Barrie's jewel tone color palette brightens the handsome bones of the 1926 Tudor house, while Matt's renovations honor its history and satisfy the needs of modern life. Just look to the living room's slightly too-high window seat. Rather than tear it down to rebuild a more typical perch, Matt and his team carefully refurbished it. Barrie then outfitted it with a cushion made from pink-flecked fabric and plenty of pillows. "That seat is our kids' very favorite place in the house," says the owner. "They fight over it; they cuddle up in it. It's the first place they go in the morning."
This all makes for a mountain house that's the happy home to a family of five…or depending on the weekend, 12 golf buddies or three families. And if you find yourself at one of their famous cocktail parties, you'll discover a guest list that spans from ages 4 to 94. Like we said—a mix.
The fact that this all functions so beautifully is a credit to Barrie, the Charlotte-based designer who thrives off bringing her clients' tastes to life in a more stylish way than they could have imagined on their own. In the case of this home, it also helps that the Bensons are close with the homeowners: Their daughters are best friends, and the wife is in a cooking club with Barrie.
Add in Barrie's deep understanding of how a family really lives. "I think part of why I can design so well for families is that I have one," she says. "I know what works, what stages to prepare for, and what questions to ask to understand how people are living in their homes." What's in her dossier? "Are you red wine drinkers? Are kids allowed to eat on the sofa? Do you use 17 shampoo bottles? If so, we're going to need room for that." Barrie's collaborations result in a house that's far more than just eye candy. See her brilliant ideas that offer inspiration for any home in need of a shake-up.