Rustic Retreat

Scaly Mountain, N.C., is known for its picturesque mountain setting. Summers are filled with visitors hiking the trails and relaxing in the great outdoors while winter brings snow tubers and other winter sports enthusiasts.

One area house enjoyed spectacular views of the mountains but lacked an outdoor space to take advantage of the setting throughout the seasons. Warth Construction Inc., based in nearby Highlands, N.C., was charged with replacing an existing deck with a larger one suitable for barbecuing and hosting large parties year-round while making the most of the view. David Warth, president of Warth Construction, had worked with the client several times in the past. “They had always talked about taking on this project and making their deck an additional room for their home,” he explains. “When they came to us to say they were ready, we were eager to help them.”

A Personal Panacea

The owners were clear they wanted to use the outdoor space throughout the year but engaged in many conversations with Warth about the most effective way to meet that goal. “The owners had a sense of general placement and knew they wanted premium materials,” Warth reflects. “They were always open to suggestions and liked to be involved in the creative process. The owners knew from the beginning they wanted to be able to use this deck as more than just a stopping point. They wanted to be able to entertain, grill outdoors and have a tranquil space. Our clients wanted it to flow smoothly from the house and feel as though it was always meant to be there. The homeowners wanted an authentic North Carolina feeling.”

The North Carolina Highlands were settled in the 1900s when people fled the cities to escape tuberculosis. “The homeowners wanted the space to look as if it was steeped in history,” Warth remembers. “Our goal was to evoke the feeling that originally brought people to the Highlands. The mountain air was believed to be a cure for tuberculosis. The porch serves more of a personal panacea for the homeowners.”

The homeowners also wanted the outdoor space to replicate the home’s interior rustic feel. They requested a large dining area that could seat eight, living space, covered grill area and a picket-design railing around the deck that would not obstruct the view. In addition, they wanted a large masonry fireplace that would serve as the center of the space. All of this was necessary while maintaining the proper flow and function of the area.

A Custom Job

Warth designed custom-bowed iron balusters to accomplish the picket design request. “The homeowners liked the idea of belly-bow pickets but thought they would be too European for their mountain home,” Warth explains. “Our designer drew the pickets and we had our machine shop fabricate them. We’ve seen the design mimicked several times since. It’s like they say, ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’”

Warth used stone flooring and heavy cedar-louvered shutters to achieve the rustic aesthetic. Warth also chose to use copper gutters for their durability and longevity, as well as maintain the design theme. The bottom exterior of the deck, which is elevated above ground level, is stuccoed, which saves money and gives the homeowners the option to install stacked stone in the future.

For the cooking area, Warth Construction installed a grill and hood vent, under which they created a storage area for grilling accessories. The grill surround was created using reclaimed barn wood. A copper vent in the roof above the grill allows for proper airflow.

The large custom-built masonry fireplace that serves as the space’s focal point provides warmth year-round, even in temperatures that sometimes dip below freezing. The firebox is 6-feet tall and 5-feet wide. To protect against fire concerns, the flooring in the entire covered area of the porch is constructed of flagstone, which also accommodates easy cleanup. The flagstone was an aesthetic consideration; building codes dictate 20 inches of noncombustible material around a fireplace. There is no hearth. “Not having a hearth actually increases the visual appearance of the fireplace and added usable floor space,” Warth explains. “It’s a trick we like to use in many of our projects.”

The in-house principal designer believed granite countertops would be too modern for the outdoor space so she decided to use extra material from the ipe decking. “It blends nicely with the reclaimed barn-wood cabinet, carries the material through the space for continuity and works because of its fire rating,” Warth says. Ipe also was installed in the uncovered deck area to show separation of it from the covered area.

A custom-made iron chandelier over the eight-person dining area also replicates the historic look while providing ample lighting for guests. “We chose iron for its durability but kept the design classic for a sophisticated feel,” Warth says.

Challenges

Warth recalls the roof design was the first hurdle the team encountered. “Ideally we would have tied in the roof with the existing house, but it would have bastardized the original lines of the house, as well as darkened what was a very light-filled and airy room on the interior,” he says. “It was a hard decision to separate the structure, but in the end it was a much cleaner design, as well as more cost-effective.” The roofing material is a pressure-treated, fire-retardant cedar shake.

Another challenge was obtaining the correct hardware for the shutters. Custom-designed forged-iron hardware keeps the shutters securely open or closed to maintain the desired airflow and create privacy. “We had to ensure stability whether they are open or closed because of the high winds in our area,” Warth says. The operable shutters and hanging curtains also contribute to maintaining a temperate space.

Warth provided detailed drawings so the client had a better idea of the entire scope of the project before breaking ground. “We do this with every client. That way, every decision from structural materials to lighting is completely integrated,” he explains. “This saves a tremendous amount of time and money throughout the course of the project since there are no afterthoughts.” Warth says because clients have a difficult time visualizing a finished space, the drawings allow them to see the vision and encourages them to make changes during the design process when it is more economical to do so.

The project took about three months to complete and expanded the outdoor-living space from 192 square feet to 540 square feet. It was completed in time for the holiday season, so the homeowners could entertain family and friends in their new space. Warth reflects his favorite part of the project was “seeing the clients’ faces when the project was finished.”

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