Tryon Style

Published 7:10 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Originally a horse barn this house has hedges that snake their way to the front door.

Originally a horse barn this house has hedges that snake their way to the front door.

Picturesque Tryon is as diverse as its history; it’s a melting pot of interesting people bringing their individual styles and melding them with a Southern Appalachian sensibility.  The bottom line of Tyron style is easy, comfortable, and elegant without pretension.

Architecturally, no matter whether your house is a Carter Brown home, an early 20th century cottage, a middle 20th century ranch or a larger style home built in the last ten years, their overall commonality is an unpretentious way of nestling into the landscape with interesting spaces that make daily living an experience indoors and out. On the exterior, stone walls and patios with pools and ponds and fountains often create a frame for an unforgettable view. The use of natural materials is also a hallmark of Tryon style.

The interiors of many of these homes, which I have had the privilege of seeing, optimize the same design principles as English country house style.  First, they are comfortable, then they are functional, and finally, they are beautiful each in its own understated way. The interior walls are often wood – logs, paneled walls, or wooden beams and posts. Log homes are most certainly a Southern Appalachian tradition; English cottages tend to be made of stone or stucco. However, the use of wood as posts and beams and paneling is customary in both styles.

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One unforgettable Carter Brown house, originally a horse farm, with its log walls was so well planned and functional with storage spaces in all the nooks and crannies. This house is furnished in its dining room with formal English mahogany furniture, an oriental rug and lots of lovely silver on its sideboard.  The formality of the furniture and the silver brings richness to the rustic and the rustic brings relaxed warmth to the formality. It is a room you want to linger in and chat long after dinner is finished. The butler’s pantry is also well planned and makes life easier. The “coup de grâce” in this house are humorous touches, like the old monkey wallpaper in the powder room, the flying rabbit on the mantle and the squirrel guarding the guesthouse door. Humor is everywhere you look.

Another old horse farm has had its paneled walls painted in beautiful soft colors, which has lightened and brightened this house buried in the trees. These pretty walls also make a beautiful stage for a fine collection of furniture, rugs and artwork. This house, which was rather simple when built, has had a wonderful portico added to the front and the kitchen has been enlarged and updated to function well today.

One of my favorite houses was built as a horse barn but was turned into a charming home by designer Gwen Bailey a few years ago. It has an open floor plan and all the walls have been lined with rough cut boards cut in a chevron pattern and white washed so it is light and airy and yet has kept its rustic feel. Carolina red stone floors were added which grounded the space and gives it warmth. The main room has a wonderful seating group as well as a snug corner by a fireplace for those cold winter nights. The bedrooms are charming and the kitchen is very functional. The old hayloft is now an added living loft space. I could move in tomorrow. On the exterior there are incredible box wood hedges that snake their way to the small patio just outside the front door. Enchanting!

Tryon style has been effectively captured in a new house with the beams left exposed in the 10 foot ceilings and hand hewn support columns defining the rooms in a partially open floor plan. This gives this interior a timeless feel – filled with an eclectic mix of furnishings it makes an easy comfortable home with all the modern conveniences.

Additionally, an abundance and diverse array of animals enhance the Tyron way of life, and includes dogs, cats, birds, and, of course, the animal that gave Tryon its fame, the horse.  They are a staple of life in this secluded spot we are fortunate enough to call our home.

The late Holland Brady, one of Tryon’s most beloved architects, in a talk at the Lanier Library, referred to the Tryon surrounds as “enchanted.” A drive through the countryside with mountain views, horses grazing, conversations with diverse and interesting residents, the variety of home styles, and the stillness as one winds around the mountain roads all provide an “enchanting” sensibility and peace to one’s soul.

Welcome to comfortable country living, Tryon style.