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Bella Vista: high up near Highlands in the Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, a Jackson couple has found a piece of paradise.


The name of Bettie and J.D. Ingram's home-away-from-home means "beautiful view" in Italian. And it fits to a T. A golf tee, that is, as the home is located in the famed Cullasaja Golf Club neighborhood.

With "purple mountain majesty" visible from every window and porch, the Ingrains enjoy a changing view from daybreak to sunset. Indoors, the sumptuous but exquisitely comfortable rooms flow into one another, with a reminder of their Mississippi roots around every corner. "This was important to the clients," notes designer Joe Rankin, who with his wife and design partner, Judy, created the interiors.

Elegant but with homage paid to the rustic nature of the mountain geography, there are even a few Gothic Revival touches. The main living area is reminiscent of a medieval castle's "great hall," with a soaring vaulted ceiling supported by weighty dark beams. A large oil painting of a majestic buck deer tops the stone chimney piece. Fine antiques of European provenances are enhanced with subtle textiles. The sitting and dining areas are demarcated with rough-hewn beams that offer stylistic counterpoint to the elegant French stag-motif lamps behind the crescent-shaped sofa.

The large, perfectly square dining table, over six feet each way, is the product of a Mississippi artisan, Mitch Henning, who fabricated it from vintage walnut. Studded russet leather chairs lend a lodge feel.

The spacious kitchen, opening to the dining area, is a romantic study in natural tones, from the walnut-stained cabinetry to the embossed and hammered copper stove backsplash, which repeats the deer and forest theme. Even the leather-clad barstools emulate dark fragments of branches.

Another Mississippi artist is featured in the powder room. Supporting the dramatic onyx countertop and matching vessel sink is a carved base by Larry Lewis, who, according to Joe, "is absolutely a genius. You sketch a design, and he goes and carves it!" Cyma-curved legs centered by a deep panel to imitate swagged fabric makes this small room a focal point and conversation piece.




Tucked away from the main rooms, the master bedroom suite continues the dramatic theme. Judy Rankin designed the iron and leather head and footboard of the bed, which is topped with an overscale carved-wood architectural fragment from an old church in Louisiana.

In the master bath, a freestanding oval Victorian-style tub positioned in a window alcove opening to yet another woodland view provides a soothing spa soak. "Rustic but tempered with softness was the look we wanted," says Joe. "The lace panels suspended from the bronze swing-arm valances filter the light gently."

Old English touches appear everywhere in the rest of the house as well. The diamond-paned mullioned window atop Betty's study desk strikes a Tudor note, as do the Jacobean-style barley-twist chairs and table in the glassed-in porch.

Each day ends with an icy tumbler of something cool and refreshing on the dining porch, where every bit of the 4,300 feet of elevation can be admired. It may be truly said that the Ingrams are sitting on the "top of the rock."

photography by gil stose
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Author:Jones, Brenda Ware
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 2009
Previous Article:Year-round summer camp: whatever the calendar says, there's always family fun afoot in this North Carolina home-away-from-home.
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