Donelan Home

Mary Donelan chose land high on a bluff above the New River in the North Carolina mountains. The house is sited to take advantage of the spectacular view, but also presents a varied internal landscape to house Mary's extensive art collection. Here's her description:


"Though I had designed my own cabin in the mountains, I decided that for my primary residence I wanted someone with more experience. I'd met James through friends several years ago and had had a couple of conversations with him about general business topics. When I decided to build, I just knew I could work with him.

hall stairs 
"I put a lot of parameters on the house. My new lot in the mountains is situated on a hill. I wanted to maximize the view and the southern exposure while minimizing the northern exposure. Much of the lot is actually down the hillside, so fitting in the house on the remaining area was a challenge.

"Inside, I didn't want space for the sake of space. I knew from his reputation that James not only was good at using space well, he liked designing that way. Also, I really wanted the main living area on one floor, with the master quarters separate from the guest quarters and the rest of the house. James' design created as much separation of the areas as you can have on one floor without it being sprawling.

living room"Of course my wish list was sometimes in conflict with all those parameters. When that happened, James, and later the builder, worked with me to set priorities and make some revisions along the way. The result was that I did end up with the things I really cared about.

"I found James very easy to work with. I told him what I wanted and he really listened to me. In turn, he is very good at giving suggestions without overpowering you. I was never afraid to say This is what I like or 'This is what I don't like.' He enjoyed the give and take. He also has a subtle sense of humor that comes through in the process.

"The house is every bit as wonderful as I thought it would be. This is the ninth place I've lived and I'm someone who likes building new houses. So it's phenomenal that I'm not looking at land or houses now. I love the way this one works so much that I don't feel a desire to build again. I'm one happy camper--and this is a pretty good place to camp out in!"

front view