David Gramley especially likes the mornings at his Living Stone Construction-built home in The Settings of Black Mountain. The first one awake, he makes a cup of coffee and turns to the large windows in the living room. Cradling the steaming cup of joe, he marvels at the clarity of the mountain framed within the view. Sometimes he sees deer emerge from the woods. Wild turkeys strut among the trees.
Shifting his eyes to the mountain range in the far distance, he’s prone to contemplate he and his wife’s move into this house in the winter of 2015. The house suits them perfectly, David said.
“We found that since we moved here, we hardly turn on the TV,” he said. “I’d rather look outside.”
And to find beauty inside, he has only to scan the interior space of his Craftsman-style home. Its large common area flows seamlessly from the living room into the kitchen and dining area. Its spaciousness is graciously proportioned. The airy, open space seems to breath in the mountain air that David enjoys when he steps out with his coffee onto the porch to see what kind of weather the day has brought.
“We knew this type of home would be perfect for us,” David said. “It’s simple, but beautiful,” his wife Rhonda said. “I love the trim details, the great lines,” she said. “On the side of the mountain like we are, it seems like we should have a house like this,” David said. The Winston-Salem natives first met Sean Sullivan, president of Living Stone Construction, soon after they bought the lot. Stumped by how to situate a house on the rolling land, they asked for his advice. A seasoned professional, Sean suggested some options that helped the Gramleys visualize how their house might look. “He gave us confidence that we could do it,” David said. He and Rhonda liked Sean instantly. “He was very helpful to us,” David said. “Even though we hadn’t hired him yet, he was always there to help out and answer questions. We saw some of his other houses on a tour and felt confident in his ability. And we trusted him.”
Natives of Winston-Salem, the Gramleys found the Settings indirectly. Having passed through Asheville several times to visit their children at school at Furman University and Western Carolina University, they knew they wanted to live in the Western North Carolina mountains. Access to major medical facilities, something that appeals to the Gramleys as they get older, drew them to the Asheville area and its reputation for medical excellence. And, they said, Asheville is fun. “It’s a vibrant city with a great downtown,” David said. “The scenery is great, and the weather is terrific.” “Asheville has a bit of everything,” Rhonda said. “It has a lot of eclectic shops, and the restaurants are all so wonderful. It’s pretty much alive all the time.” They chose The Settings because it’s close to town and because it’s located near the delightful small town of Black Mountain, named for the tall mountains that rise above it. The Settings is an easy drive from Winston-Salem, where David works as a senior director of strategic business partners in Reynolds American’s human resources department.
The house that Living Stone built for the Gramleys is much smaller than the 4,100-square-foot house they had in Winston-Salem. “We wanted one-level living where we didn’t have to go downstairs for what we needed every day,” Rhonda said. The house is on two levels. On the main level is the space in which they live, with the master bedroom, bath and guest bath. On the lower level are three guest bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Clad in Hardiplank siding and stone, it looks natural in its wooded setting. With trim in various natural hues, “we have five or six colors on the outside of the house,” Rhonda said, in love with the idea. “I’ve never had anything but brick houses with white trim.”
On occasion, David will gather limbs from the property to burn in the fireplace on the patio on the lower level (the other two fireplaces inside are gas). It’s pretty down there on the patio, David said. It’s a nice place to consider the beauty of the house over his coffee. “We had never built anything like this before,” he said. “Living Stone gave us lots of options. They’re experienced. And their process works.”