A house that love built
GLENVILLE -- There are do-it-yourselfers, and then, there are the Holloways.
While other mortals pat themselves on the backs upon assembling a grill from Lowe's, Alden Holloway and his wife Beth think nothing of designing and building furniture, painting original art and almost singlehandedly completing the interior of the breathtaking retreat they call home in the Glenville-Cullowhee area.
“I hammered most of the nails in this place, but Beth held a lot of the boards,” Alden states unequivocally. She also, for the record, has been known to personally clean and sand “dirty, rough” antique cypress which she envisioned for the home's living room ceiling.
Falling in love with WNC mountains
The seeds of this labor of love were planted many years ago when they deposited their son Braden at North Carolina State, where he had been accepted with a swimming scholarship. They moved him into his Raleigh dorm in 98-degree heat and then headed for the Pisgah Inn for a little rest before returning home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The temperature at the Pisgah Inn, that very same day, was a cool 60 degrees, which prompted the following words, which will live in Holloway family lore.
“Baby, we found it,” Alden said, even then dreaming of a mountain retirement.
While Beth had attended camp in Brevard as a child, Alden was completely unfamiliar with this part of the world. He considered himself a “beach person,” he admits, thinking mountains were good for nothing but snow skiing.
Today the couple resides on a breathtaking three acres in Shepherd's Gap, a pastoral gated community of only 11 homes. Originally developed in the mid-1990s as a Christian community where residents could feel closer to God, it has maintained a peaceful countenance. The Holloway home sits on a peninsula of sorts, surrounded on three sides by Lake Glenville. A drop dead view off the back of a generous eating porch offers a view of Clingmans Dome, the largest mountain in Tennessee.
But it has been a long trek from “baby, we found it” to day to day living in this mountain aerie, and the years-long process has been part of the fun.
Shepherd’s Gap lot purchased
With their son ensconced in college (today, he is the head swimming coach at State, and has coached an Olympic winner), the Holloways returned to Baton Rouge, where Alden had a thriving design and building business. But once the Shepherd's Gap lot was purchased, in 2000, the wheels were turning, and Alden and Beth committed themselves to the “thrill of the chase,” culling sales and antique stores and auctions for finds to grace the home that was still in Alden's mind's eye.
But again, while most homeowners might look for the interesting table or lamp, the Holloways kept their eyes out for things like Louisiana pecky cypress from a 19th century barn, antique Brazilian walnut doors and English antique bubble glass. It helps that as an architect Alden had a large storage barn. He thinks nothing of buying something that strikes his fancy and “sitting on it for 25 years.”
Beth also jumped in with both feet, having worked in her mother's antique business and shadowing her husband through countless building projects. The exposure honed her tastes and she says that once the North Carolina lot was purchased she and Alden began exchanging things like hardware for anniversary and birthday gifts. She recalls one year being delighted to get an antique door knob. It was all part of the joy of this collaborative effort.
To say the house is a three-bedroom, four-bath is like saying Windsor Castle has plenty of space for entertaining. It is, simply, so much more.
Scrupulous attention to detail
Every detail has been lovingly considered and perfectly executed. Except for hiring others to lay 940 tons of gravel fill under the slab, and getting professionals in to help with the framing, tile work and electrical, Alden and Beth have done just about everything else. That includes extensive interior carpentry, flooring and endless painting.
The attention to detail is evident in the entry hall, which has a “leaf theme.” An original painting by Alden of every kind of leaf found on the property and a rustic series of steel leaf hangings adorn the walls. A leaf pattern covers the rug, which is woven in soft autumnal colors.
The living room looks out on an incomparable view of mountains and an attached walk-out porch has been purposely dropped 22 inches so that its railing would not detract from the living room's unobstructed view. Above one of the home's five fireplaces hangs another “Alden-original,” this one of birches in the fog of Sapphire Valley.
The dining room features an impressive dining table designed by Alden and built from heart pine by a friend. A companion side buffet in the room features a charming pottery collection made by the couple's other son Hampton, who is a special education teacher in Louisiana.
When it came to designing the kitchen there was just one caveat: it had to be large enough to house Beth's formidable “chicken” collection. The result is a whimsical display of all things chicken ... pottery, dishtowels, wall hangings ... happily sharing space with state of the art kitchen appliances. The back porch also has an outdoor kitchen and the couple says that they eat outdoors as much as possible when the weather is accommodating.
Also on the main floor is the master bedroom, which one enters under a transom made from the previously-mentioned bubble glass, through a hallway that serves as a cozy library space with a stained glass window gleaned from a church in Houston, plus an antique pew and kneeling bench.
The master bedroom itself is furnished with several pieces Alden designed. Among the interesting touches are bed tables, made from wormy chestnut and sheathed in metal. The master bath features bamboo cabinetry, which was treated with a pickling stain to scrub it of any yellow tones.
A guest bedroom, also on the main floor, provided a home for those antique Brazilian walnut doors. Too warped to utilize as doors, they make perfect frames on either side of the room's Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Prairie style window.
Downstairs tailored to grandchildren
The downstairs was designed with the couple's four grandchildren in mind. There is the boys' room, or “THE MAN CAVE,” with its predictably masculine dark tones and rustic ambiance. A hide-a-bed sofa for Ethan and Holden gives the room multiple uses. This “MAN CAVE,” is still a work in progress, with visions of a pool table and big screen TV on the front burner. The walls are already hung with framed sports pages heralding the Louisiana State University Tigers. It turns out that John Ferguson, who was for many years the Voice of the Tigers, is Beth's dad. Both Alden and Beth are LSU alumni.
An unexpected find in this room is ...