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Mid-Century Modern in the Mountains

How one young family nestled their hybrid dream home in Georgia’s Blue Ridge.

Photography by Tom Harper

By Hayley M. Abernathy


While vacationing in the mountains of Blue Ridge, Georgia, (before having kids) David and Leigh Heymann mused, “Wouldn’t this be the coolest spot to have a house?” But that conversation was forgotten until years later in 2019, says Leigh, when the couple had the opportunity to purchase the lot where they would eventually build their own mountain retreat, affectionately named “Ellewood” after their daughter, Elle. 

After scoping out the lot, David had déjà vu. “He turned around and went back up the mountain and found that vacation rental (in Blue Ridge) that we had stayed at years prior,” recalls Leigh, “and that made it feel a little bit like fate.”

Leigh and David envisioned Ellewood to be a multipurpose, five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath modern chalet: A place where their little family could retreat from the bustle of regular life two hours away in Atlanta, with room to invite extended family and friends to join. As a bonus, it could also be a luxury short-term rental. 

To bring their vision to fruition, the couple partnered with Modern Rustic Homes, based in Ellijay, Georgia. “They are both immensely creative people,” who were, from the start, “very, very clear about the architectural aesthetic that they were looking for,” reflects Michael Grant, Modern Rustic Homes partner and designer.

Both David and Leigh love mid-century modern design — but they also felt their new home must reflect the rustic mountain setting. So, with Leigh’s distinct vision leading the way, they designed a contemporary hybrid with colors and finishes paying homage to its surroundings.

Since the couple wanted room for large groups, they chose a three-level plan with beds and baths spaced throughout to help the sizable home still feel cozy. Today, they can host up to 16 overnight guests. “Even though it’s 4,000 square feet, it’s a compact design, where there’s finished space on the first, second and third floors,” says Joe Dixon, Modern Rustic Homes’ partner and builder. Plus, he adds, “The timber framework and some of the modern woodwork materials, like the fireplace surround and accent walls in the bedrooms, add to the warmth and coziness of the house.”

To further achieve a modern-but-cozy vibe, Michael says David and Leigh wanted everything to be touchable. “It’s got a very finished look about it, but they’re all really good surfaces that will allow you to go enjoy it, put your feet up, and not worry about it,” he shares. Various zones for game play, entertainment and quiet space invite guests to find their own way to detach from the worries of regular life.

To balance their love for modern design with some rustic elements, Leigh and David contrasted natural materials and textures like the timberwork in the ceiling and the screened porch with more modern finishes like the custom steel railings, black metal doors and dark kitchen cabinetry. They also highlighted the home’s setting by reducing trim around windows and foregoing curtains in many rooms — a sleek look showcasing stunning views. 

Building their mountain retreat during the pandemic was sometimes a challenging process, as supply chain issues, labor shortages and demand for construction made for a lengthy timeline. After beginning the design process in 2019, Ellewood was finished in April of 2022. Nevertheless, Joe remembers, “The Heymanns were very patient and understanding of all the challenges that we had during the process, and the end result was definitely worth it.”

Now, Leigh, David and their children, Elle and Wesley, enjoy vacations and regular weekend getaways in Blue Ridge, often inviting family and friends along to their modern mountain retreat.


Home Details



Square Footage: 3,609

Bedrooms: 4

Baths: 4 full, 1 Half

Design/Timber Frame: Modern Rustic Homes


See Also: A Waterfront Home Becomes Good as New

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