Apart from the heat and humidity, which I tolerate up until I get home from the beach and then begin to wistfully dream of cooler days, colder nights and that clean, clean smell, I really do love living here. Even as I think about what it would be like to move somewhere else, I know it would still be in the South somewhere. Because after all, this is where the people are the nicest, the food is the most diverse, and there are mountains and beaches, both with minimal drives.
Yesterday, Mom and I drove 3+ hours up to North Carolina to the Designer Showhouse. FYI, I made a mistake the other day calling it the Southern Living Showhouse. That one is in Greenville, I think. This one is just a house for sale (3+ million if you are interested) in Cashier’s, North Carolina that was lucky enough to have each room assigned a designer, most of whom were from Atlanta, some of whom my mother knows. I love going to these because as silly and frivolous as it may be, I get good drapery ideas and my mom gets good design ideas. Of course it took a lot of planning for me to even get to go on this trip in the first place (read about that here), but the stars aligned and we were off.
We drove up to Highlands, North Carolina first. This took a good three and a half hours, with at least one and a half of it getting from Mom’s house to I-85 north. What a nightmare. If I ever needed a reason to never go back to the corporate world, the traffic in Atlanta would be it. Pure insanity. We stopped only once for breakfast at Chick-fil-a in Gainesville. Somethin’s brewin’ in Gainesville … wonder what it could be? Anyone? Anyone? The Cotton Patch Gospel, people! Have you never heard of that? No? Well, now you have … you’re welcome.
Despite having gone to school in North Carolina, I’ve never been to Highlands. The weather was gorgeous at an extremely pleasant 73 degrees, the sky was blue, there was a slight breeze, and the town (all three streets of it) were made for walking and exploring. We parked outside of the Old Edward Inn and Spa and went inside to buy our tickets for the show house.
I never knew how posh Highlands is.
When I say posh, I mean on display in Acorn, the boutique of the Inn had a beautiful, artisan made gold necklace. Formed in a simple chevron zig zag, it was stunning in its simplicity. It was also a cool $2000+.
Sure! No problem! I don’t have groceries or swim to pay for, why not?
Dishes ranged from $36-$136 … each. Artisan glass, hand forged ironworks, rugs, hand made masks and Halloween decorations. Beautiful, but out of my price range. I did find a few funny things, cocktail napkins and notepads, that were semi-affordable.
Mom and I got the tickets and roamed around the town for a little. I found a place where one could buy jewelry and bullion. Just a little something to keep in your back pocket the next time you run out of bullion, there’s a little shop in NC waiting for you.
(Just so we’re clear, I don’t mean chicken bouillon.)
Back in the car, we got back on the windy, curvy road to Cashiers where the parking was for the shuttle that would take us to the house itself. Waiting with us for the van was a very nice, older man from Sylva volunteering for the day. He wore a golf shirt and seersucker, a straw hat and had little NC flags on his socks. He handed every lady into the van with a, “Watch your step now,” and a smile. Precious.
As we wound through the rhododendrons that were well over seven feet high, the poplars and the oaks that sprinkled the gravel road with sunlight, we finally arrived at the house. It was milling with people, some like mom and me, just there to look at a pretty house, some volunteers and some out for a social time. It was all very genteel and scented with old-fashioned perfumes like L’air du temps and Old Spice. That’s not to say there weren’t young people there as well, but by and large, people of my generation weren’t thick on the ground.
The house was nice. Yes, just nice. Not amazing, not beautiful. Not even especially clean (the master bathroom sink had the toothpaste stain and what looked like a soap drip in the garden tub). Which was fine, I know how these things happen. My mom has done “design houses” before and they are the biggest hassle. The designer funds the entire room, there is no budget. There is never enough time or cooperation and literally there is still paint drying as the first people walk in. I saw paint smudges and other small details that smacked of “last minute.” But on the flip side, I learned some things.
A Palladium window is a design element. Don’t ever cover it up, no matter how pretty you think the fabric is. A fussy dressing table covered entirely in fabric, imported from France or not, just doesn’t do it for me. A Roman shade’s return can be made successfully with a secondary piece of fabric. Trim, done in moderation and with discerning taste can make all the difference in the world.
I also learned what a stunning view can do to one’s heart.
The photograph at the top does not do it justice as the picture is 2-dimensional, but I was standing in the backyard of the house when I took this. All at once, my heart hiccuped and was filled at the same time. The view was truly the best part of the house. Which makes me frustrated that the architect put a cabinet on the back wall of the kitchen instead of just extending the windows across the entire length of the wall.
Why, why, why? Must have been a guy … just sayin’.
Anyway, I got lots of ideas for the dream house, whenever that may come to be, and Mom and I had a great time and a delicious lunch. My sandwich had sprouts! Its the little things that make me happy. I even got back in time for the school open house, but only after driving by a sad, little Ghost Town known as Walhalla, something called the “No Sweat Auction House,” and a lady sitting in lotus position (was she seeking Nirvana?) on the side of Hwy 11 in South Carolina. No joke. She stopped the conversation.
Only in the South, y’all.
**nb. When I first wrote this, I couldn’t remember how much that necklace was, and I was like, “it was at least $500! That sounds good!” But I texted my mom and she left me a voice mail and said it was indeed solid gold and well over $2k. *cough* see? I don’t do jewelry, I have no idea about these things.