Highlands, North Carolina, is well-known among Atlantans for its rustic mountain houses, but it was a modest office building that caught Laird Memory’s eye as a potential second home. “It had been for sale a long time and was in a great spot close to town,” she says of the low-slung former ranger station and law office. “But the interiors were super ugly.” The fake wood paneling and brown carpet, however, didn’t deter Laird and her husband, Matt Bunting, from transforming the building into their dream mountain getaway.
Once the couple met with Atlanta architect David Colgan, they all decided to add a second floor and create an “upside-down house,” placing main rooms like the living room and kitchen on the higher level with bedrooms tucked down below. It creates an ideal scenario for entertaining, giving the home’s social spaces the best views. The living area features large windows, a vaulted ceiling, and a spacious porch overlooking peaceful Harris Lake.
Inside, the vibe is both relaxed and vibrant. “I’ve always loved the balance of modern and traditional,” says Laird, who designed the interiors. After years at Turner Broadcasting, she now channels her creativity into art and decorating projects and filled the house with a creative mix of vintage, thrift-store, and modern wares—the latter exemplified by large-scale, domed light fixtures hanging from the 15-foot ceilings. Her favorite color pops up everywhere. “I love red,” she says. “It just makes me happy. To me, it’s a neutral.” She paid homage to Highlands with vintage postcards, enlarged and framed on the walls.
The family, which includes Raleigh (11) and Augie (12), calls Buckhead home but enjoys spending time off wandering the trails and exploring the quaint town. “I hear a lot of people say they want to move to the mountains or a small town, but in Highlands, you have both,” Matt says. “Sometimes it feels like we see our Atlanta friends more in Highlands than in Atlanta.”
Architect David Colgan, Merrill, Pastor, & Colgan Architects, merrillpastor.com
Living room Light fixtures: Restoration Hardware, restorationhardware.com. Sofa: Article, article.com. Chairs: Ikea, ikea.com.
Kitchen Cabinetry: Ikea
Master bedroom Bed: Target, target.com
This article appears in our Winter 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.