Divine Downtown Digs

Divine Downtown Digs

Life on Another Level

By Deborah Salomon

Photographs by John Gessner

Back in the 1920s, a fella named Herb Beck decided, given the growing popularity of motor cars, to convert his buggy repair shop in downtown Southern Pines to an auto service center. The one-story brick corner location already had drive-through bays. Later, a second story was added that, according to a diagram provided by the Moore County Historical Association, became the Boy Scouts clubhouse.

Those grease monkeys and energetic boys should see it now. Industrial remnants — gone. Instead, Holly Floyd and husband Tyler Horney have created a “loft” living space rivaling anything Robert De Niro, Beyoncé and the late John Kennedy Jr. called home when factories became million-dollar condos in the SoHo, Tribeca and Meatpacking District of Manhattan.

“I wanted to create a gallery for my art,” Holly explains. Since her art includes enormous pottery urns, sparkling crystal vases and paintings ranging from Victorian portraits to Picasso-esque Cubism, the loft needed display cases, pedestals, spot lighting and angled walls which create the 4,000-square-foot maze.

Parisian lofts inhabited by starving artists it’s not. Rather, the door at the top of a long, steep staircase opens onto a Technicolor world strewn with eye candy. This loft is edgy-chic, with a surprise around each corner. Take the rooster motif. “I like chickens,” Holly admits. They are everywhere, from an enormous, stylized portrait to a thumbnail glass strutter in a wall-mounted shadowbox filled with other fascinating miniatures brought back from Europe and elsewhere.

This is a space choreographed by a woman secure in her tastes, with designer Awena Hurst to help realize them. 

Holly, who is Texas born, Lumberton raised, and Tyler, a Moore County native, purchased the downtown building in 2009 with the intention of converting the ground floor to retail space. “Why not live upstairs?” within walking distance of the Sunrise Theater and fine dining, she thought. In the past, Holly had lived at Loblolly, a quasi-Tudor Weymouth estate designed by Aymar Embury II, and also at The Roost, a Cape Cod cottage near Campbell House, home to the Arts Council galleries. Roost? Rooster?

Holly wanted their new home to vibrate with color and originality, starting at the front door, which opens into a hallway lined with showcases, ending at the living room, where the principal color is a hunter/leafy green accented by a green velveteen chair, pale green walls, and additional shades woven into settee upholstery. On the floor, a custom-hooked wool rug patterned with symbols: Holly’s monogram, butterflies representing her children, sunbursts, alpha and omega and, of course, roosters. Windows are covered with shutters and Roman shades decorated with birds.

The fireplace is faux, but the deck overlooking downtown has been outfitted for grilling. Watches can be set by Amtrak arrivals, surely less startling than police sirens punctuating SoHo nights.

In an era of kitchen extravaganzas, hers is modestly sized; one counter doubles as a minibar, with sink and refrigerator. Cupboards are gray-stained wormy maple with painted brick backsplash and a soffit display case filled with . . . roosters.

“This is a one-person kitchen,” Holly says: ample, simple and functional. It opens into the living room on one side and on the other, a small dining room with an expandable birdseye maple table. The sideboard is no-nonsense Welsh, while a dainty asymmetric crystal chandelier is shaped like palm fronds. Angled walls throughout the midsection pit turquoise against pale yellow.

Now look down. Most of the heavily knotted pine flooring is original to the building. Once considered inferior grade, a century later these imperfections add character. Wooden doors of assorted sizes from an antique door dealer in Virginia provide texture, although wall openings had to be tailored to their individual, sometimes irregular sizes.

The star of the living area has to be the pottery Holly has collected from Seagrove and elsewhere. Smaller pieces, like a Noah’s Ark crammed with animals or the familiar “ugly jugs,” are displayed in built-in cabinets. Enormous urns — one a 4-foot scarlet Christmas gift from Tyler — stand on pedestals separated by window seats.

A gentler green continues into the master suite, with a small sofa occupying a bay. Teddy bears on a mini chair were made from fur coats, one belonging to Holly’s mother, whose presence is felt throughout.

Something’s missing: multiple wall-mounted TV screens. A small screen on a swinging arm is tucked between the kitchen and living room. “Never the bedroom!” Holly exclaims. But she allowed one in the master bathroom “so I could see what’s happening in the world while I get ready.” Their only big screen dominates the man cave, originally a second apartment, with daring terra-cotta-hued walls and heavy antique case pieces. There’s a small office for Tyler and two guest bedrooms for children and grandchildren, where Holly’s palette veers uncharacteristically into blue. Birds perch on branches over one bed, a trompe l’oeil effect accomplished by decals Holly found online.

“I’m all about whimsy,” she admits, further illustrated by a powder room where the basin sits on a stained artist’s worktable. Globs of “paint” — decals again — appear to have been splashed against the wall.

After a year-long renovation, Holly and Tyler moved in last November. The only thing Holly misses is having a dog.

Repurposing commercial and industrial buildings, barns and carriage houses played out across North Carolina as cotton mills and tobacco warehouses became upscale residences. Occasionally, space “over the store” was available, saving its occupants a tedious commute. Downtown Southern Pines has several iterations, including a new-construction all-loft building and, on Broad Street, a legendary bordello over a bowling alley, reconfigured for a family with young children as a loft with roof garden near the park.

However, living day-to-day with fine art and museum-quality crafts requires a particular mindset. Holly Floyd has it, for her glorious, decorative “stuff.”

“I find it comforting,” she says. “Like memories brought back by Christmas tree ornaments.”  PS

Sister Act

Sister Act

Reimagining an eclectic cottage

By Deborah Salomon 

Photographs by John Gessner

Local residences can be relatively easy to classify: Federalist, antebellum, Georgian, ranch, contemporary farmhouse, mid-century modern, Frank Lloyd Wright-ish.

This one — tucked behind tall greenery in the heart of Weymouth — isn’t, unless “surprising, refreshing and personal” is the category. Clad in pecky cypress painted off-white, the cottage stretches longitudinally like a ranch, has bedroom suites anchoring each end in the contemporary mode, and multiple bay windows common to New England saltboxes enhanced by stained glass panels displaying geometric and bird motifs.

Add this shocker: a cathedral ceiling with flying buttresses rising over the sitting/dining area. Built in 1929, a year of financial havoc in the U.S., one legend identifies the builder as a shipmaker from Boston with the buttresses a reminder of the ribs supporting his boats.

Those buttresses are original, not so a covered backyard patio for grilling, eating and watching TV while drying off by the fire after emerging from the 42-inch deep, rectangular plunge pool, with a submerged seating ledge and water kept at 100 degrees year-round.

“We all jumped in at Thanksgiving,” says Cathy, who with her sister, Mary, reimaged this cottage.

Their story is as singular as the results.

Cathy and Mary, a year apart, grew up sharing a room in a Pittsburgh family of eight children — three girls, five boys. Mary became a nurse anesthetist at a women’s hospital. Cathy worked in the wholesale bakery industry. Each married, remained in Pittsburgh and had children, who grew up and moved away. In 2014, the sisters, now single, retired and decided they could live more economically together — but not in Pittsburgh. Too cold.

They heard good things about North Carolina’s retirement havens. Asheville was their first foray. Still too cold. Pinehurst, with a temperate climate and aura aplenty, offered the solution.

“We drove down for a week and hooked up with an agent, just to look around,” Mary says. Seven Lakes seemed promising, or maybe a carriage house in horse country. Then they discovered the charm of downtown Southern Pines, the shops, bistros, railroad station and the interesting people populating them.

Better check availability in Weymouth.

What they discovered seemed almost made-to-order. The walls and ceilings in the living /dining space were wood-paneled and, after moving in, the sisters found the stained wood too dark and painted the walls — themselves — a soft white. The dark wood cabinetry and a natural brick backsplash in the modest but adequate kitchen became creamy vanilla with a pure white island top over a black lacquer base. Cathy cooks. Mary shops and cleans up. A breakfast table for two suggests a Victorian tearoom.

“I don’t want all that granite,” says Cathy. “It’s casual, like, ‘Come on over and let’s share.’”

The sisters’ most formidable challenge was space, given the possibility of visiting children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews and friends — golfers and otherwise. Fortunately the elongated footprint on a prime Weymouth acre allowed them to convert the attached two-car garage into living space with a workroom and a laundry. A new garage was added.

“Over the years we have always attacked projects,’’ Cathy says. In high school she was more interested in mechanical drawing than cooking and sewing. “You just learn that if something doesn’t work, you do it over.”

Furniture is a mixture of hers and hers, with some delightful juxtapositions. In the small TV den a gray wide-wale corduroy sectional overlooks a frilly little bureau painted bright yellow. A dresser in the guest room is made of sanded metal. Nurse Mary explains that before built-in units, hospital rooms attended by nurses in starched white caps were furnished in metal, usually painted white, now antique shop finds.


“We each brought furniture. We didn’t buy new,” Cathy says. Even their area rugs made the trip. The familiar pieces take on fresh life placed in the spacious, airy rooms. And surprises lurk around each corner: A bathroom wall of glass bricks adds retro chic. Rather than reupholster “throne” and other chairs, they discovered a paint for fabric that dries to a nubby texture. An elongated window frames a tall, pruned crape myrtle, its gnarled, spotted trunk and branches resembling a giraffe. A huge Chinese soup tureen sits ready to serve the emperor. They point proudly to an antique transom; their mother’s desk; Granddaddy’s cigar cabinet; Granny’s enormous hope chest; and a framed wedding quilt sewn from silk ties and kept under glass.

The sisters concede that not everyone could pull off this living arrangement. At first, their other siblings’ reaction was, “How dare you leave us!” Cathy recalls. Now, they do family Thanksgiving, and their twin brothers show up for golf. After 10 years the sisters have made friends through pickleball, golf and community activities. Cathy’s latest project: watercolors.

“We live a very simple life,” Cathy says. “We’re content to sit out back or go into town. Both of us worked hard. Now it’s time to relax, to entertain ourselves.”  PS

A New Home for the Holidays

A New Home for the Holidays

Building traditions and contemporary elegance

By Deborah Salomon     Photographs by John Gessner

When floral designer Matt Hollyfield meets a prospective client, he predicts her taste by reading her clothing: fine leather tans and browns, deep forest greens, a variety of textures whisper “Ralph Lauren,” a preference Melinda Taylor confirms. Her unusual new home in the Eastlake section of the Country Club of North Carolina won’t tempt Santa. No candy canes, angels or blue-and-silver snowflakes either. Instead, Hollyfield suggests wreaths, swags, tabletop arrangements and two trees featuring reds gone scarlet, blues in a muted navy and burnished golds. A close inspection reveals equestrian details. Melinda doesn’t ride but loves horses as a spectator sport . . . so why not, given the proximity?

This Christmas will be the first in many years when Melinda and her husband, Doug, are the hosts rather than guests, usually of Melinda’s mother. Decorations are in place. Their home is ready.

A new house is like a blank canvas on which to paint Christmas; no outdated traditions, no faded ornaments. But the Taylors’ second home, built for eventual retirement, is perfect on multiple levels, starting with starting afresh. Because their primary residence is still Charleston, West Virginia, all the furnishings, equipment and fixtures are new and in accordance with Melinda’s master plan: a simple but elegant low country contemporary farmhouse wearing cream, sand, leather, smoky gray, green and brown hues sparked with metallic gold in unexpected places — all planned and executed by Melinda, an insurance executive by trade, a designer by avocation, and a details/neat freak by admission.

Her whites glow. Pink azaleas were removed and replaced with white to extend the neutral palette. Even Beau, their yellow Lab, is vanilla. Gold accents pop in the custom-made range hood and the metallic gold kitchen sink with its line-of-sight view of the lake beyond the veranda.

More than a decade ago, Melinda and Doug began thinking about a retirement house, first in Asheville, which proved too chilly for Doug’s year-round golf aspirations. “We wanted it to feel more vacation-y than our two-story Colonial brick (in West Virginia),” Melinda says. Months later they drove to Pinehurst for a look. CCNC checked enough boxes for them to buy a lot and choose a model home. Construction, however, was delayed 10 years while Melinda underwent treatment for cancer, then COVID happened. Once she was declared cancer-free and their twin sons, John Logan and Preston, were off to college, the Taylors broke ground on their 5,000-square-foot, four bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom vacation home, with dream home specialist Huntley Design Build wearing the hardhats.

Obtaining materials during COVID proved arduous: windows took a year; the refrigerator, 19 months. Melinda was a five-hour drive from the action, which included a ceiling covered in floor tiles. Vinyl grasscloth graced another ceiling, and gold mesh panels in the built-ins flanking the living room fireplace added texture.

She shopped the High Point Furniture Market and Facebook Marketplace but took measurements for drapes to be made in Charleston. That everything came together so well is a credit to Melinda’s vision.

The newly popular “modern farmhouse” architectural style doesn’t comport with denim overalls and hay bales. Main floor living space, casually sophisticated, is open but divided into angles with high kitchen visibility. Clever doors that fold flat, then disappear, render the veranda an overflow living room for entertaining, furnished in fabric, not outdoor upholstery. Retractable screens and a stone fireplace help control temperature.

Golf lockers line a back entrance. Each son has a bedroom and fantasy bathroom. The oversized suspended light fixtures, both Lauren and bell jar, are simply spectacular.

A range of neutrals played out in moderately sized rooms make the large upstairs game room a shocker. Its 800-plus square feet are divided into a pool hall (blue felt on the table), a TV lounge, gaming table and bar. Wideboards the color of coffee grounds cover the floor, walls and ceiling. Man cave doesn’t come close.

Melinda is proud of several chests rescued from inelegant circumstances and repurposed to glory. The fabric covering Beau’s favorite sofa is the same color as his fur, so it doesn’t show.

True, this will be Christmas without a life-sized sleigh in the front yard. No stockings will hang from either mantel. White will replace twinkling colored bulbs on the trees, at least until the family expands. “When the boys get married and have children, this will be their home base,” Melinda says.

Yo, Santa!

In the meantime, on Christmas Eve the Taylors will host an open house for local friends and others coming from West Virginia. Christmas dinner: beef tenderloin, emerging from a kitchen that appears to have sprung from a magazine cover.

“This is a year for establishing new traditions,” Melinda has decided, in a home she created and calls “my pride and joy.”  PS

The Carriage House Rides Again

The Carriage House Rides Again

Style and originality reign in a chic pied-à-terre

By Deborah Salomon     Photographs by John Gessner


Somewhere, over the rainbow, James Walker Tufts and James Boyd can share a high five. They have found the perfect occupants for their respective villages: He plays golf. She rides. They are happily, healthfully retired, spending summers at their primary residence Up North — Ohio, that is. But when winter’s chill descends so do they, to Pinehurst, with her horse, of course.

“Such interesting people here,” says Linda Salvato.

As are they. Guy Salvato is an artist, graphic and otherwise, who worked at Manhattan’s slickest advertising agency during the Mad Men era. Most of his paintings are golf related. Linda was a consultant in health care marketing. Their primary Ohio home is a Cotswolds gatehouse, designed by an architect who traveled to the Cotswolds for inspiration.

Guy’s four sons are grown, married, with grandchildren of their own. So why not search out a pied-à-terre that pushed their respective buttons? Something quaint without being cloying, surrounded by a community of wine-sipping, cheese-nibbling, concert-going, philanthropic world citizens conversant in, well, just about everything.

No need for massive square footage — the great-grandchildren can stay elsewhere. Instead, a massive need for style and originality.

They were not aware of Pinehurst’s suitability until one of Guy’s sons discovered an international golf art seminar at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.

Let’s go!

“I had been here in the ’90s but it was Linda’s first time,” Guy recalls.

While he was putt-erring around the village, Linda inquired if anybody kept horses. A drive down Young’s Road revealed the answer: “Perfect!” she exclaimed.

The “hunt” for lodging was on. Her requirements: stringent, including proximity to the village, with a historic component, maybe a juicy backstory.

You can’t get much more historic than a wood shingle Colonial Revival multi-unit residence (sounds better than “boarding” or “apartment” house) built by Old Man Tufts himself, in 1896, the same year Pinehurst was founded. The elongated structure stretched across the corner of Palmetto and Cherokee roads. Construction cost: $1,650.


A carriage house with hayloft was added about 1921. When the carriage trade declined, garage doors were installed to accommodate the family roadster. Perhaps because the property attracted more transients than blue bloods, little mention of Palmetto’s history or occupants survives in the society pages.

A subsequent owner renamed it Cloverleaf, described as being located near one of four gates in a fence meant to keep out wild pigs.

The property fell into disrepair. Neighbors (and the village appearance commission) branded it an eyesore until, according to The Pilot, the owner was cajoled into slapping on a coat of paint before the 2005 U.S. Open.

Then, in 2006, a local builder transformed the sad carriage house into two chic pieds-à-terre, adding a Palladian window to the atrium, a tiny skylight and enough moldings, paneled doors and ornate window frames with deep sills to wow a creative retired couple from Ohio.

Linda opened the door and exclaimed, “This is it!”

They snapped up Unit 10 in 2012, made some adjustments to a bathroom and moved in for the 2013 winter season.


Carriage houses, like Manhattan lofts, are rare, therefore precious. Never mind the steep flight of stairs or the modest 1,380 square footage. Concentrate, rather, on the character afforded by original mismatched pine floorboards, wall space for Guy’s golf paintings and a garden plot for this master gardener/cook. On the nights Guy doesn’t prepare an Italian original, village bistros are within walking distance.

Next came a wicked pleasure enjoyed by mature second homeowners: furnishing rooms from scratch in a breezy style dubbed “Online Eclectic,” with the exception of a rare Wells Fargo (stagecoach company, not bank) desk Linda found while strolling through the shops in Cameron.

“We both have decent design sense,” Guy notes, so no need for an interior designer. Shades of seafoam, sand, gray, vanilla and other pale neutrals flow into each other. Stylized patterns on bedroom fabrics add whimsy, while uncluttered surfaces throughout make small rooms appear larger.


Uncluttered, however, doesn’t mean empty. Or boring. Brightly painted tin cans line one wall shelf. Wood-turned bowls, dramatic examples of craft art, sit center stage on a tall dining area table seating four but folding out to accommodate eight. The kitchen is a little gem. An old-timey Pinehurst equestrian poster speaks for Linda. A golf bag anchors a corner. Guy’s stylized golf tee painting dominates a wall. That he and Andy Warhol traveled in the same New York circles is no surprise since both worked in ad illustration. Nor is Guy’s regret for not saving some of the pop artist’s discards. In 2022, one from a Marilyn Monroe series sold at auction for $195 million.

With the plantation shutters open and sun streaming from the tiny skylight, the residence with multiple ceiling pitches and lovely landscaping feels like a treehouse. To describe interior décor as hard to describe is the ultimate compliment.


The Carriage House beside Palmetto House, after a century of multiple owners and iterations, finished a win-win. The Tufts-Boyd plan worked. Old Town gained another historic reclamation. And two transplants from the Midwest — plus a retired racehorse of championship lineage — discovered nothing could be finer than to winter in Carolina.

“Being here, I feel a sense of relief,” says Linda, who rides almost daily. “I feel energized to do things I wouldn’t do up north.”

“I love doing the exterior work,” and playing golf, of course, Guy adds. “I worked hard for many years. I looked forward to something like this.”

Linda’s summation: “Two beautiful homes and everything else . . . we do have a blessed life.”  PS

Ready to Ride

Ready to Ride

A French feel in the Sandhills

By Deborah Salomon


Credit James Boyd, and mild winters, for enticing foxhunters to Moore County. Eventually, some branched out to eventing, dressage, jumping. The Walthour-Moss Foundation furthered the equestrian cause. Soon horse people from Northeastern cities began wintering their steeds in Southern Pines, accessible by rail and so much closer than Florida. They built small apartments — “hunt boxes” — over the barns, graduating to year-round estates.

This tight-knit community created and maintained an active social life. Their houses, located between Connecticut Avenue and Youngs Road, grew bigger, better equipped and less rustic. Positioned near the top of this heap is the retirement home of Chris and Sallie Lowe, 5,000-plus square feet styled à la French chateau, on 10 grassy acres sloping to a pond.

In the barn (with tack room), two stall doors are topped with wrought metal. A full-sized dressage arena borders split-rail pasture fences while a row of tall, thick elaeagnus bushes separates the chateau from a narrow private road.

Sallie rides the horse, Chris rides the tractor, which has its own garage. Both are Virginians by way of Vermont.

How this happened could be a story written by Boyd himself, or maybe his buddy Thomas Wolfe.


Most equestriennes start young. Not Sallie. Her parents, suspicious of the lifestyle, guided her into high school sports, where at 6 feet tall and athletic, she excelled. In 2011, now married, a mother and teacher living in Vermont but hating the cold winters, she won a trip to Southern Pines at a fundraiser. “This is it,” she decided, after driving around. “This is where I want to spend the rest of our lives.”

No problem for Chris, who dubbed her adult riding quest “keeping Sallie sane.” In 2011 they bought a property close to town but with “a country feel,” and rented a place during construction . . . of what?

A year spent in France left its mark on Sallie. She looked for an architect who would interpret her ideas rather than imposing current trends. Research led her to Designing Your Perfect House and other titles by William Hirsch. Perfect! Imagine Sallie’s surprise, discovering that the internationally lauded architect and author lives in Seven Lakes. Chris, whose father was a contractor, worked happily alongside builder Mark Lally’s crew.

Sallie presented Hirsch with some unusual requests. She had learned that authentic provincial chateaux are not grand at all, but rather informal country homes, sometimes with animals occupying the lower floor. “I’m not a fan of big open spaces,” she says. As a result, the main floor, although enormous, is a succession of moderately sized rooms — workroom, kitchen, sunroom, dining room with unusually small round table and large lazy Susan, living room, all with arches opening onto a 90-foot loggia (front hallway) with white travertine floor blocks arranged randomly.

At one end of the loggia, a triple garage; at the other, the master suite. Windows everywhere, allowing unobstructed pasture vistas to become part of the decor. Quimper pottery, made in Brittany for 300 years, hangs from the walls. Paintings depict Parisian scenes. A massive antique French armoire approaching the 9-foot ceiling dominates the master bedroom. Laundry equipment is part of his-and-hers dressing rooms.

“The mother in me needed a room for each son,” Sallie admits. They have three — two are married, one with a grandson — all accommodated upstairs, which includes a guest apartment with sitting room, bedroom, kitchenette and one of five bathrooms which are bright and attractive but hardly spas. 

A French chateau doesn’t do spas.

The French experience also influenced Sallie’s palette, with yellow coming out the winner — not lemon or daffodil but a muted hue, perhaps butter diluted with crème fraîche, or a silky béchamel. This hue covers exterior walls with contrasting purplish-blue shutters and, surprisingly, the footed kitchen cabinets.


Ah, the kitchen, showplace of the American luxury home. Sallie wasn’t interested in sterile white or professional-grade appliances; more important to her, a backsplash composed of weathered, hand-painted tiles in colors and motifs that continue the European country chic feel. Chris points proudly to the top of a Vermont sugar maple chopping-block table inserted into the island. “It’s from my parents’ home. When I was young I would sit on it and talk to them.”

Furnishings combine antiques with spotlight pieces. In the living room, a coffee table contrived from twisted vines is topped by a toile tray, and a pair of oversized, heavily tufted slipper chairs face two Asian lamps made from tea canisters. In the sunroom the drawer of a game table, from Sallie’s lineage, holds a Washington Post front page dated 1882.

“We’re not super-formal,” Sallie concludes, “but we give plenty of dinner parties with china and crystal. I wasn’t ready to give that up.”

Not your ordinary horse farm, even in an area known for elaborate installations. “I knew what I wanted and I held my ground,” Sallie says. Meaning custom-designed and custom-built, right down to the baseboards. Geothermal heating and cooling. A courtyard covered with pebbles, not grass. Splintery decorative ceiling beams from the Amish. A sweet rescue pup named Gracie. Outbuildings — one containing Chris’ man cave — that complement, but don’t detract from the main house which, sadly, Sallie and Chris never got around to naming.

How about Pièce de Résistance?  PS

Story of a House

Touch of the Orient

Aberdeen’s John W. Graham House
is a colorful work of art

By Ashley Walshe     Photographs by John Gessner

Christmas Styling by Hollyfield Design


In the late 1990s, Bart Boudreaux was living in Beijing, China, with his wife, Lynel, when a friend invited him to visit Pinehurst.

“It was a lot different back then,” says Boudreaux, a Louisiana native whose work in the oil business had taken him all over the globe. “Very quiet, calm. Not much traffic. That’s what we were looking for . . . especially coming from China.”

Of course, the world-class golf was part of the draw. “Unmatched,” says Boudreaux.

Life in Pinehurst became the pin on the narrowing horizon. In 2012, the couple bought and restored one of the 1895 James Walker Tufts cottages (The Woodbine) in Old Town Pinehurst, where the couple have lived since Bart’s retirement in 2015.

But this isn’t a story about that house, nor is it a story about Pinehurst. Ultimately, this is a marriage story. It begins with one man’s love of old houses.

“I can’t explain it,” says Boudreaux, trying to put his passion for restoration into words. “I needed to find something to do outside of golf.”

Perhaps his time in New Orleans influenced his taste for old houses. “Not everyone’s cup of tea,” he admits.

Regardless, buying and restoring them became his accidental pastime. In addition to the Pinehurst home, Boudreaux revamped the house next door (another one of Tufts’ original 38 cottages), renovated a 1930s Sears Roebuck on Dundee Road, then flipped one, two, three more fixer-uppers, all in Pinehurst.

Which brings us to his seventh and most recent project: a 1909 Victorian in downtown Aberdeen.

Situated on a spacious corner lot on High Street, the sage green double-pile with the classical Tuscan columns and wraparound porch once belonged to John W. Graham, son-in-law of Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad founder John Blue. The exterior is grand yet understated, with an air of timelessness and restraint typical of Colonial Revival architecture. Boudreaux bought the National Register property in February of 2021 and devoted one year to its transformation.

“It’s got tremendous character,” he says, noting the 10-foot ceilings and crown molding, the butler’s pantry, the two-story semi-octagonal bay, original dogwood wallpaper in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and five charming fireplaces throughout.

An original stained-glass window defines the nook beneath the half-turn staircase. Natural light floods every inch of the 2,500-square-foot space. Upstairs, transom windows above bedroom doors offer charm and function.

“I fell in love,” he says.

Heart pine flooring was repaired and restored. Old doors and tiger oak mantels, once hidden beneath layers of paint, are now among the home’s most striking features. Ditto the banister, stairs and newel caps.

“Almost killed me,” says Boudreaux of all the stripping. He did what he could himself and hired help to do the rest.


Boudreaux upgraded and reconfigured the kitchen, reintroducing an old entrance and constructing a small island with salvaged beadboard. He retiled and revamped existing baths (one full and one half); added a full bath upstairs; installed new cabinetry and quartz countertops; tinted original windows; exposed a bit of brick; updated plumbing, electrical wiring and appliances; replaced ductwork; and insulated the crawl space.

But he didn’t stop there.

Throughout the house, period-appropriate light fixtures (complete with ceiling medallions), fabric and furniture complement the architecture. 

“I just love the search for antiques,” he says, which is how he crossed paths with interior designer Jane Fairbanks of The Old Hardware Antiques in Cameron. “I know what I like. Jane’s got it.” 

Fairbanks helped Boudreaux outfit two of his Pinehurst homes in American country décor. “What he truly loves,” says the designer.

The interior of the Graham house is distinctly different. It’s an amalgam of color, texture and Victorian-era furnishings with a heavy emphasis on Oriental antiques —a marriage of tastes, his and hers. Flash back to China in the late 1990s.

“The oil company I worked for allowed us to transport one shipping container full of Chinese furniture back to the States on their nickel,” says Boudreaux.

Lynel, who worked as the assistant general manager at the Hilton Beijing, loaded up on ornate altar tables, hand-painted cabinets and intricate Chinese artwork — textiles in particular. Bart took Fairbanks to sift through the haul, in storage for over 20 years. Forgotten treasures were promptly dusted.

“They sort of became the inspiration for everything,” says Fairbanks.

Especially the colors. In the front parlor, coral walls pop against crisp white molding and cream-colored beadboard wainscoting. A hand-embroidered silk opera collar is framed and displayed on the wall above the staircase. Asian accent chairs covered in pagoda-themed fabric flank the fireplace, and a pair of wooden foo dogs (Chinese guardian lions) draw the eye to the quarter-sawn tiger oak mantel.

Beneath the stained-glass, a hinged easel frame displays photos of original homeowners John W. Graham, a cashier and officer of the Bank of Aberdeen, and his bride, Kate Blue Graham.

One wonders what Kate might think of the vibrant paint and forbidden stitch embroidery.


Beyond yellow pine pocket doors — “massive and heavy as led,” adds Fairbanks — coral walls spill into the living room, where a silk rug and custom curtains soften the space with delicate pink hues. This is where worlds begin to collide in a surprising way: an American country cherry corner cupboard (1840s), for instance, opposite a Chinese wedding cabinet featuring traditional brass hardware and a hand-painted imperial dragon.

For Lynel, each piece has a story, like the statuette of Guan Yin (female Buddha), positioned between the living and dining rooms.

“I bought her in a Beijing dirt market from a little blind man,” Lynel recalls. The vendor assured her that the wooden figure was quite old.

“Lǎo de, lǎo de,” he repeated.

It wasn’t. The Buddha split in half a few weeks later. 

“Sounded like a gunshot,” Lynel says between bouts of laughter. “She was new, made to look old . . . but I love her anyway.”

In the upstairs hallway, a teak altar table paired with a carved wooden screen make a bold and elaborate statement. The walls? Georgian Green by Benjamin Moore.

Bedrooms are handsomely outfitted. For one, an 1840s maple rope bed with curly maple headboard. A four-poster bed in another. The third features a faux curly maple queen anchored by an early 1840s blanket chest. Mounted oriental hair pins and an embroidered baby bib (and matching shoes) add color and whimsy.

“It’s just amazing how things can come from so many places and end up working so well together,” Fairbanks says.

The designer played a major role in bringing Bart’s vision for the house to life. “Big time,” he emphasizes.


All parties seem equally delighted by how it turned out. In the past, Boudreaux’s modus operandi has been to revamp and resell. But the John W. Graham house is a keeper. 

“Our Pinehurst house is on the market,” he explains.

Towns and dreams change. Bart and Lynel are moving back to Louisiana to be closer to family. The house on High Street will be their vacation home.

“Aberdeen is having a bit of a Renaissance, don’t you think?” says Lynel.

Bart’s golf clubs are there waiting. The house itself — a harmonious blend of tastes — is a labor of love ready to be enjoyed.  PS

Ashley Walshe, the former editor of O.Henry, lives up country and is dreaming up her next grand adventure. 

Space Well Spent

Blinkbonnie is larger than life

By Deborah Salomon

Photographs by John Gessner

Styling by Matt Hollyfield


Bigger-than-big. Practically enormous. This residence is proportioned for an era of grandeur.

Scarlett would recognize the Tara-esque columns, while the European antiques gleam as though polished by Mr. Carson, the butler on Downton Abbey, who might appreciate the triple-sized butler’s pantry, too. Remove the runner and its length suits bowling. A grandfather clock reaches for the ceiling. The pool and pool house/sauna would eclipse those of most hotels. There are five bedrooms, six bathrooms, three home offices, a basement of ballroom dimensions, multiple gardens, even a fenced dog park for mini goldendoodle Lilly.

Just living there could be an aerobic workout.

Of course Pinehurst Old Town centenarian Blinkbonnie has been updated, enlarged and repurposed by several occupants. An added-on portico may seem incongruous to the Dutch Colonial architecture with gambrel roof, yet the house clings in spirit to an original purpose: genteel, happy times when conversation was an art and money flowed like prohibition whiskey during Pinehurst’s fashionable winter “season.”

But times have changed, as has Blinkbonnie — Gaelic for “a glimpse of beauty.” Its most recent iteration: a refuge where owner Lisa Youngclaus escaped COVID by floating on the pool with her friends or, on a rainy day, dawdling in the 2,000-volume library where books are color-coded, or maybe even having a go at the full-sized billiards table in the finished basement where her son and friends once hung out.


The story starts, as do other Pinehurst homestead histories, in the early days of the 20th century. In 1917, Simon Chapin of New York, a major developer of Myrtle Beach, got word of the vacation enclave the Tuftses were building. Liking what he found, he built what is now called While-Away Cottage for his family on Blue Road and this larger estate for his sister, Mary Alice Chapin May, on nearby McCaskill. She wasn’t there long. In 1920 the house, by then owned by Dickenson Bishop, was christened Bishop’s Cottage. Several owners followed, including someone identified as “well-known sporting figure” Jay Hall, and Pinehurst mayor Steve Smith and wife, Becky.

Golf drew Bill and Lisa Youngclaus, both advertising executives living in Chicago, to Pinehurst, where they owned a weekend home at Country Club of North Carolina. After their son was born in 1996, Lisa retired and the family moved to Pinehurst full time.

But the CCNC pied-à-terre wasn’t big enough for gatherings of the blended family. Besides, Lisa and Bill had spent a year in Paris, where she collected antiques on a grand scale, as well as art and assorted museum-quality objets begging a suitable venue. How many houses offer a double-wide foyer, intricate eyebrow moldings, bay windows, high ceilings, interesting wallpapers, chandeliers by Baccarat of Paris, a 30-foot-square living room dominated by a baby grand piano, drums, and an Aubusson tapestry of Pablo Picasso’s painting The Acrobat? The contorted abstract is flanked by contemporary armless sofas and antique French tables. Complementing this Picasso are several look-alikes Lisa found on Bald Head Island and had framed. On the floor, a silk rug from London. On the ceiling, strategically placed recessed lighting.

Yet, amid such splendor, Lisa chose checked gingham drapes hanging from a dowel rod. “I like to mix the old and the new,” she says, which explains a TV den with grasscloth walls, and sectional sofa in rust and sand tones that she calls her winter room. There are surprises, too, like the bathroom with a stained glass window and clawfoot tub, and a sunroom enhanced with blues, wicker and graceful ceiling details.


Throughout, a clever architect sited rooms with windows on two, sometimes three sides for maximum all-day light.

“I couldn’t believe it when we first walked around the house. I could see how our furniture fit the spaces. There was a place for everything,” including a giant French poster circa 1888, advertising an art exhibit in Brussels, that dominates the staircase landing.


Lisa remodeled the kitchen when they moved in but left the dark wood cabinetry, which she preferred to sterile all-white. She also kept Venetian plaster walls in a creamy hue but refreshed the master suite in blues and white, which continues into an adjoining sun/yoga room, her “serene retreat.”

Lisa is a yoga instructor who has traveled to India to import icons and other merchandise for studio boutiques. In her own home she successfully juxtaposes these pieces with formal European furnishings, a 17th century tapestry and contemporary art. Yet, given copious space and absence of clutter, each piece stands out, ready to tell its story.


Time passes, circumstances change. Bill died in 2006. Their son, a musician, is still close by, but Lisa’s step-grandchildren are grown. “When your family changes you make a new family, with friends,” Lisa says, recalling a recent birthday binge given by 15 girlfriends, her sisterhood. “I’ve matured with the house, from babies to kids hanging out in the basement.” To now.

But for Lisa one thing remains constant: “When I get up in the morning and walk down the stairs I think, OMG, look at the arched windows, the doors and everything else. I’m so lucky.”   PS

Cabin Confidential

Rough-hewn exterior belies the comfort within

By Deborah Salomon • Photographs by John Gessner


The image of a cabin as a lowly dwelling lacking basic amenities evolved long ago from 19th century shelter into 21st century mountain retreats, ski lodges and vacation hideaways. Abe Lincoln may have been born in one, but it bears no resemblance to the adaptation Kelly Rader has wrought in Pinehurst. Based on comfort and informality, her rebuild may look rustic on the outside but within, soft jazz wafts from a sound system. Half a dozen flat screen TVs hang from walls that remain log only in the living room. Mile-high duvets cover queen-sized beds except for built-in bunks awaiting grandchildren. A screened porch opens onto a stone terrace and, from the new second story, dormers look onto a quiet lane leading into the village.

There is nothing oversized, nothing pretentious. Everything is welcoming. Call it rustic elegance. It was a formidable undertaking for a woman who admits preferring her elegance rustic-free like her former homes — a stately Georgian brick built in 1913 with carriage house and pool in St. Louis, or an Upper East Side Manhattan apartment.

Kelly grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, a town known for its fine residences. Her mother, Pat Johnstone, was a golfer on the amateur circuit. When her parents retired to Pinehurst Kelly wanted to be near them. No better place than the village, a theme park for retirees from everywhere strolling the lanes, rocking on porches, eating at cafés, shopping at farmers markets, living the good life in restored 1920s cottages.

The most likely prospect was a small log home built about 1925 for glove czar Percy Arnold for $5,000 — at the time considerably pricier than its neighbors. Exterior and interior walls were logs, and the ceiling beams massive tree trunks. A stone fireplace dominated the living room. Streetside, Kelly recalls, “It didn’t look like it belonged.”


But it was for sale, and they were curious. Coincidentally, Bill Rader had noticed it advertised online three years before. Let’s take a look, they decided.

“We walked in . . . and fell in love with the fireplace,” Kelly recalls. Both appreciated the cabin ambience — Bill’s family owns a resort in Pennsylvania composed of 39 log cabins.

“My Cabin,” as it was known, had passed through many hands and undergone several upgrades, including a kitchen fashioned from a one-car garage.

They purchased the cabin in 2015. Planning the renovation took a year, construction two. According to town regulations, they could build up but not out. A full second story with dormers was added, giving the footprint more substance. Weathered logs were removed and replaced with new ones in the living room. Elsewhere, interior walls were faced with conventional materials. “It was too dark. I’m a white-and-beige person. I like a Ralph Lauren feel,” Kelly says.

Her desire for light is served by multiple small-paned windows, some with shutters, installed at various heights, most surrounded by wide moldings which themselves enhance the décor. Rather than depending entirely on lamps or ceiling fixtures, Kelly chose sconces wired directly into the wall, to avoid visible cords. Also absent: clutter.

Doors leading from the living room into the now light-walled master suite were sealed (to increase privacy), with the space retooled as built-in bookcases. Dutch doors to the outside were added, along with an old-fashioned manual doorbell and wood-framed screen door. A small garden is fenced and quiet.


They gutted the kitchen and raised the ceiling. Now a little gem — almost a culinary sculpture gallery — the modest kitchen displays statuesque Italian SMEG brand toaster and juicer, soaring glass-front cabinets, knotty pine floors, a tall, narrow refrigerator and a refectory table surrounded by banquette seating in front of windows facing the sidewalk.

“It’s like a fishbowl. We sit here and wave at people walking by, so much fun,” Kelly says.

Instead of stark white, kitchen walls and cupboards are painted a variation with the slightest tinge of green. There is no dining room. Eight can eat comfortably at the kitchen table. On holidays, an empty space at the end of the living room is filled by a hunter’s table with leaves that fold out to accommodate at least another eight.

Hallways are covered in rough grasscloth for texture and practicality. They wipe clean. Kelly devoted one hallway to framed clippings from her mother’s golf career. A larger-than-life portrait reproduction of legendary golf pioneer Old Tom Morris is visible to passers-by, through a front window.

All four bathrooms are light, bright and new, lots of white and glass with contrasting navy blue. Off the living room, a perfect little screened conversation porch opens onto a terrace.


But the upstairs bedroom with sliding barn door and four built-in bunks painted hunter green, covered with tartan plaid quilts, elicits the biggest smiles.

Furnishings defy period or classification but illustrate a trend popular with downsizing retirees: out with the old, start afresh, which doesn’t always mean new. Kelly haunts Design Market in Aberdeen, estate sales and other sources for tables, chairs and case pieces. In the living room two upholstered chairs swivel, allowing their occupants to grab hors d’oeuvres off the massive square coffee table, then spin back to a TV mounted over a breakfront. Bent bamboo chairs accent the master bedroom. A well-worn blanket chest from Bill’s childhood found a place along with an antique metal disc player and a painting by Bill’s mother.

For fun, leopard-print runners cover stairs and hallways. Waffle-weave carpets add more texture. Old golf clubs and bag anchor a corner of the living room. Deer antlers twist out of a vase. Happily, it hangs together beautifully, creating an atmosphere more livable than grand.


Kelly and Bill moved from St. Louis in 2018. A plaque on the fence announces their ownership: “House of Rader, established Dec. 10, 1988,” their wedding day.

“What I wanted was a gathering space for our family,” Bill says.

The cabin, now with five bedrooms and four bathrooms, is ready for Thanksgiving, when the Raders’ three adult children and other guests will number 22. At least 12 will bunk down at the cabin and the holiday feast will be there.

Mission accomplished.  PS

Story of a House

Old Town, Rich History

And a couple embracing both

By Deborah Salomon     Photographs by Cara Mathis


Something old, something new, nothing borrowed, lots of blue add up to a Pinehurst showplace named Jefferson Cottage.

Cara, Gavin and 6-year-old Holden Mathis comprise a young family with traditional ideas; their home – a white-painted brick single-story with modified mansard roof and wings extending into an acre of Old Town Pinehurst.

Cara, a former FBI agent, now an artist and photographer, explains the interior styling, which includes tennis rackets, oars, equestrian and golf memorabilia. “I love it that we live in an area rich in the history of these activities,” she says. “I like to think of my style as ‘resort heritage,’ which incorporates antique and vintage leisure activities in décor and styling.” She calls their efforts heritage stewardship and, to further the goal, has joined the village’s Historic Preservation Commission.

For decades wealthy urbanites seeking mild winters snapped up cottages built by the Tufts family in the first two decades of the 20th century — and the additional homes, in similar architectural style, that followed. They enlarged and renovated these “cottages” to the gills, but the supply was finite. When it gave out, seekers built Georgian mansions or Tudor castles interspersed with Arts and Crafts, Southern plantation, Cape Cod and a few modern and postmoderns.

Jefferson Cottage was built in 1960, a product of the postmodern era. That explains, perhaps, why chez Mathis has a faintly French country exterior, but inside, the large rooms, spa baths and dream kitchen are everything Americans expect. History doesn’t interfere with beauty or comfort.


Cara grew up in a gracious Philadelphia suburb. Gavin is from Montana. “My father managed an airport. I rode my bike on the tarmac,” he says. They met in Washington, D.C., where Cara was FBI and Gavin, a lobbyist. Cara fell in love with Pinehurst when her parents bought a vacation home here in 2008. She and Gavin were married in the Village Chapel in 2014. The young couple planned, long-range, to retire in Pinehurst.

Cara was posted in Utah when COVID struck, prompting a reboot in employment and residence. Driving down Linden Road, she decided someday she’d like to live under the tall pines. By coincidence their Old Town residence, at the time newly renovated by contractor Travis Wallace, was on the market. It positively glowed. Cara liked what she saw, with a few additions, like removing a foyer wall and creating a dramatic proscenium entrance to the living room, sunroom and gardens beyond.

They moved in August 2021.


Gavin is a venture capitalist who telecommutes while Cara pursues art and photography, both from home offices in their Carolina chateau, which has evolved as elegant and livable, kid-friendly and entertaining-ready. Its furnishings, most purchased for this house, illustrate the methods of the daughter of an antique dealer, who knows where to find what, online or otherwise. “My mother taught me to have an eye. I can walk into any store and just know,” she says. Cara points to a framed antique map of New Bern, North Carolina. “Twenty dollars,” she says. Gesturing toward a massive breakfront she says, “We drove to Myrtle Beach to pick it up ourselves.”

Cara mixes pieces from Wayfair and Ikea with classics from Facebook’s Marketplace, local estate and Habitat for Humanity sales. The workplace element greatly increases the amount of time spent at home — all the more reason to make it perfect which, for Cara, means refreshing, relaxing.

As though obeying the command “let there be blue and white” the color scheme dominates every room. On a palette where white offers 50 variations Cara’s choice is neither vanilla nor milk, eggshell nor moonbeam, but the purest, cleanest stark white. Blues run from a Carolina blue wallpaper with birds in the dining room to books bound in navy, stacked on living room shelves. She allows a few grains of sandy taupe, mainly in rug-over-rug arrangements on oak floors stained dark. Gray appears in the statuesque gunmetal kitchen appliances. Black accents are permitted, in the form of two rambunctious kittens, but the blues dominate on white fabrics, wallpaper, bedding and her vast assortment of china and transferware.


Cara believes in displaying her collections and, given the room proportions afforded by Jefferson Cottage, they don’t appear cluttered. Approximately 40 candlesticks holding candles of different heights march down the center of her white dining room table. Wall art includes old prints, lithographs and fine line drawings, many her own work, depicting golf and equestrian scenes. Some match family life events — sailing ships hang in Holden’s room because he was born in Annapolis, Maryland. Cara drew and framed the Jefferson Memorial in D.C., where Gavin proposed.

Perhaps Cara’s most fascinating collection is a set of FBI challenge coins, bestowed as rewards for professional services and/or sacrifices.


Travis Wallace’s initial renovation resulted in minimal structural changes. To avoid others, Cara repurposed spaces. Family meals are eaten at the sunroom table adjoining the living room or at one of two breakfast bars. Kitchen cupboards were moved and a coffee bar added. Gavin, who does most of the cooking, likes the results.

The dining room is reserved for holiday gatherings attended by Cara’s parents and sister, who live nearby. An oversized family room with French doors just off the foyer became the master suite with two of the five bathrooms. Down the hall two more bedrooms serve as home offices. The opposite wing is divided into Holden’s room (with play space and a queen-sized bed) and a guest suite with bedroom, kitchenette and separate entrance. The double garage, which opens on the side to preserve the symmetrical façade, contains a mini-gym and golf cart parking.

There’s no massive media presence, thank you very much. This family owns only one TV. Select programs are watched via iPad.


The longitudinal footprint of this handsome residence allows three terraces out back — one for cooking and eating, another with a daybed swing, the last for conversation. Holden’s play “fort” occupies a corner. They decided against a pool since the hotel is practically across the street. “Living here is like being on vacation every day, like a Hallmark movie,” says Gavin.

“With an outdoor space like this why go to Italy?” Cara says.

As renovators of Pinehurst landmarks confirm, the village’s earliest cottages can become money pits. Gavin appreciates the sturdiness of Jefferson Cottage. “This is solid construction, plaster over brick,” he says. Otherwise, for décor and furnishings, “I trust Cara completely.”



As well he should. “I think of heritage homeowners as stewards rather than owners,” she says. “I’ve been charged with protecting the integrity of this home and enhancing its beauty.”  PS

Dome, Sweet Dome

Paying it forward in Pinebluff

By Deborah Salomon

Photographs by John Gessner

“E.T. phone home.”

That rings a bell at a triple-dome Pinebluff structure resembling an albino caterpillar/spaceship — a real shocker in the cottage-y enclave adjacent to Pinebluff Lake.

“Oh yes, people stop and knock on the door,” says Candy Ruedeman, who bears no resemblance to an extraterrestrial. The undulating exterior of the domes is the antithesis of conventional stick construction with its straight lines and 90 degree angles. The shaded interior, resulting from limited windows, feels comforting and safe, enveloping its occupants. Inside, the air feels cool rather than AC-frosty. Each room is equipped with a ductless, wall-mounted AC/heating unit. Concrete blown over a foam core provides insulation. Poured concrete floors refresh bare feet.

Although above ground, construction surpasses FEMA’s guidelines for survivability. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew blew a dock off the nearby lake but swept over the domes without damage.

These monolithic dome homes — the semi-official title — are fire resistant, termite-and-rot-proof, energy efficient and, besides hurricanes, have survived tornadoes and earthquakes. Some are lavish multi-story residences with balconies and turrets. Others enable year-round swimming pools. A commercial dome housing offices or stores benefits from instant recognition. Ski resort domes, beach domes, mountain domes, office domes, school and studio domes exist. Still, not everybody could live in a house where hanging pictures can be a challenge, where straight-line furnishings don’t fit, where electric outlets can’t be added or moved, and where bumping into a textured concrete wall can skin a knee.

Skip and Candy Ruedeman weren’t “everybody.” He served in Vietnam as an Air Force fighter jet mechanic. She was a critical care nurse. Both grew up in Kentucky, in ordinary middle-America houses. Their only joint residential adventure: building a log home from a kit.

They were living in Colorado as retirement from the water-conditioning business approached. “We wanted to get back to the green, and be nearer the beach,” Candy says. Golf was a factor, but not primary. Skip had a cousin who lived in Moore County. They came for a look, liked the area but not the resort bustle of Pinehurst and Southern Pines.


“I can make a home anywhere,” Candy continues. “But we wanted a place where we couldn’t hear the neighbors.” The 1-acre heavily wooded lot in Pinebluff suited their needs.

Skip knew dome homes from helping a friend build one in California. The mechanics fascinated him. Explained simply, a ring foundation reinforced with rebar is laid for each dome. Vertical steel bars embedded in the ring attach at the overhead apex. A special fabric is placed on the base and inflated. Foam is applied to interior surfaces, which are then sprayed with a concrete mix that can be painted.

Because of zoning and planning requirements each window opening required a dormer-like configuration. The Ruedemans topped them with curved “eyebrows.” The division of interior space can be accomplished with straight walls, or curvy, suggesting niches. For their “Pine Dome,” Candy and Skip chose mostly curvy, creating the look of a modern art museum.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” Alice whispers from the rabbit hole.

The 1,700-square-foot space was sectioned into a living-kitchen-great room, three bedrooms, two baths and two eating areas, but no formal dining room. Closing off a corner of the kitchen created a pantry. Conventional glass doors open onto a deck overlooking a clearing where Candy feeds the forest creatures. At one end of this three-hump caterpillar stands a conventional shed/workshop for Skip’s tools; at the other, a fenced vegetable garden.

Construction by professionals, with the Ruedemans crewing in, took eight months. Lacking straight lines, the house presented measuring problems for building inspectors. In December 2014, they moved in.


The couple decided to ditch all their furnishings except one bed and start anew at Ikea, supplemented by tables, shelves, and other pieces, including an African violet stand designed and crafted by Skip. Since the master bedroom had no wall space for their dresser, they created a closet around it. A desk belonging to Candy’s dad became a bathroom vanity.

Other décor choices have a single purpose: showcasing mementos accumulated by a close, loving family. One hallway is virtually covered with photos of their two sons and five grandchildren plus framed documents from Skip’s Air Force career. An old printer’s tray holds miniatures. A photo shows Candy skydiving. In one bedroom Candy hung sections from a quilt made by her grandmother. On a kitchen wall, a holder displays painted eggs. A dulcimer made by her father hangs on another.

The top section of a lawyer’s bookcase with glass doors stands opposite the sofa. In it is a collection of dolls and teddy bears, each representing a person or event. “That one is from my first Christmas. This is the first Christmas present Skip gave me,” Candy says. “This is the first time I’ve had them on display.”

Skip loved trains. A toy track and cars are mounted over the deck doors. Candy’s best idea was asking friends and family to paint wooden pulls for the kitchen drawers and cabinets. Each is different, personalizing a galley kitchen separated from the living room by only a counter.

But what must the neighbors think? That a UFO landed on their quiet street? Don Woodfield lives across from Pine Dome. He watched the construction from clearing the land to blowing the concrete. His opinions have been positive from the get-go.

“Never a thought,” Woodfield says. “Just we’ve got new neighbors. Let’s go find out about them.” So over he went, beer and snacks in hand, soon discovering that, like himself, Skip was a Vietnam vet. Later on, they worked together on a Habitat for Humanity home build.

By now, the caterpillar has settled into the landscape. The coffee-colored plush sofa and upholstered headboards don’t seem stranded against curving walls. But this summer something is missing.

Skip passed away last August, suddenly, at 76. Candy is comforted living among his handiwork.

“This house was our legacy. This is what we chose to do, the house Skip wanted to build.”

There have been offers to buy Pine Dome. But for now Candy, with visits from her children and grandchildren, will stay close to him here, in a house far from ordinary but close to home.  PS