A North Carolina Mountain Cottage Gets A Magical Transformation

Norman Askins Gothic Foyer
Photo: Helen Norman

Almost everything about the 1940s mountain house that architect Norman D. Askins discovered more than 20 years ago delighted him. He was intrigued by the unusual site with a secluded meadow in the front and wide mountain views behind it. He was charmed by the cottage details and the long front hall with interesting vistas. All of these details captivated the architect's eye. However, it had some shortcomings too, such as dull gray shingles, dark pine walls and floors, and dated interior decor. The quaint escape needed some much-needed love and attention – and it challenged Askins to do what he loves most.

01 of 09

Seeing Magic In the Mountains

Norman D. Askins Highlands Cottage Exterior
Photo: Helen Norman

"It was a wreck when I first saw it, but the bones were there," says Norman. When he brought his wife, decorator Joane Askins, to the house years later, they joined forces, combining their talents to bring out the home's natural beauty and charm.

Shingles: HardieShingle

02 of 09

Creating A Colorful Cottage Garden

Norman Askins Colorful Cottage Garden
Photo: Helen Norman

Bursts of vibrant flowers, including purple coneflower, violet cranesbill, blue catmint, and white and lavender phlox, punctuate the boxwood hedges and sculptural obelisks.

03 of 09

Carving Out An Elegant Space

Norman Askins Cottage Dining Room
Photo: Helen Norman

The dining room walls are painted Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore (HC-170). Tieback curtains at the doorway was a smart decorative solution for creating separation between the dining room and the adjacent kitchen.

China pattern: Tower in Pink by Spode; available through replacements.com.

04 of 09

Putting Your Collection On Display

Norman Askins Gothic Foyer
Helen Norman

In the foyer, the front door's Gothic-style archway frames Joane's classically Southern collection of blue-and-white delft tile and flower-filled ginger jars.

Wall paint: Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore (HC-173)

05 of 09

Prioritizing Meaningful Touches

The Living Room
Photo: Helen Norman

It was important for the couple to bring in pieces they loved and to lean on the landscape for inspiration. A symmetrical display of artwork surrounds an antique gilded mirror. Painted furniture and upholstery in mossy tones mimic the colors that can be found in their mountain setting.

Wall paint: Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore (HC-173)

06 of 09

Combining Old And New

The Kitchen
Photo: Helen Norman

With the stone fireplace, the walls and ceiling clad in painted boards, and the cabinets made from salvaged window sashes, the renovated kitchen exudes old-farmhouse charm.

Wall paint: Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore (HC-173); Countertop: Carrara marble.

07 of 09

Embracing The Beauty Of Simplicity

The Porch
Photo: Helen Norman

Simplicity at its finest: A painted wood valance dresses up the porch window.

Linen White by Benjamin Moore (912); benjaminmoore.com. Wicker chairs: mainlybaskets.com for retailers.

08 of 09

Making An Entrance

Roman-Style Bust
Photo: Helen Norman

This Roman-style bust draped with fiveleaf akebia vines rests at the opening to the lawn and dining area, reflecting a juxtaposition of home and garden.

09 of 09

Enjoying Every Inch Of The Outdoors

Outdoor Dining Room
Photo: Helen Norman

Living "walls" made of boxwoods, hostas, and hydrangeas create a cozy and secluded outdoor dining room adjacent to the obelisk-dotted garden.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles