Idea House 2002: Family Reunion

Our oceanfront Idea House, located on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, mixes nostalgic beach-home style with modern building technology.

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Family Reunion ideahouse

North Carolinian Sara Switzer painted much of the artwork specifically for this house. She worked with decorator Linda Woodrum on themes, colors, and sizes. "Some artists would snort at painting for a house," says Sara. "But to think about all the elements as a whole--one seems to stimulate the other."

Deborah Whitlaw

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Architect George Graves is accustomed to the challenges of building near the sea. With years of experience--seven dedicated solely to Bald Head Island--he has a pretty good idea of what will work and what won't. George tailored the plan for this house, the first on Cape Fear Station's beachfront, to maximize ocean views and preserve Bald Head's natural beauty.

The entry hall immediately establishes the plan's sense of airiness. An open staircase bends and climbs toward the second-floor landing and 20-foot ceiling. Built-in shelves house a collection of locally made Nantucket lightship baskets, seashells, and beach reads.

The palette is so succinct that colors flow seamlessly throughout the great room's three areas: living, dining, and sitting. On the room's two sofas, a tawny silk weave is visually reminiscent of burlap--but surprises the touch with smooth softness. Abundant rattan tables stand ready to hold cocktails or an interrupted book.

The expansive kitchen, separated from the great room by a counter bar, mixes the latest conveniences with contemporary design. For cabinetry, the design team chose dove-tailed maple with Quaker styling and bronze knobs to stay true to the simple aesthetic. Stainless steel appliances and chrome fixtures add reflective accents.

George designed four bedrooms in the main house with a family in mind. In the dormerlike space upstairs, a large bedroom is decorated in marsh browns and greens. Adding a touch of the tropics, carved pineapple--a symbol of welcome used throughout the home--cap a king-size leather and raffia bed. A duneside bedroom is dressed in rich tones defined by dark wood blinds. For impact, designer Linda Woodrum placed the bed against the three windows. In the oceanside bedroom, a palm motif reigns. The accent crops up on neutral bedding, lamps, the rug, even the finials on the canopy bed. Silky to the touch, cotton linens layered in complementary tones whisper of island breezes and lazy afternoons.

The upstairs centers on the study/media area. Just off the staircase and accessed by French doors, this "away room," as George calls it, offers a handsome retreat.

Room for outdoor living at a beach house is essential. Ideally, you need spaces for entertaining, a lounge area to catch rays, shady porches, and quiet corners for naps. George gave the house all these functions with plenty of decking and porches. A deep porch stretches across the front and to a side, screened porch that opens onto the back porch and deck.

The attached guesthouse serves several purposes. Besides privacy for visitors, it gives family members a getaway from the main house. Outfitted with a full bath, galley kitchen, outdoor shower, pullout sofa, skirted dining table, and TV armoire, this cozy space fills all the needs of a complete house.

Take a virtual tour of this house.

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