Heron House, A Modernized Classic
Updated: Mar 2
Memorable achievements in architecture and design are inspired and created by visionaries who guide us from dreams and fancies to the perfect expression of our deepest desires. Just as a river pilot who steers a ship safely through a hazardous passage must have the “sharpest eyes on the river,” so, too, must the guiding eye of a skilled architectural designer like Caroline Boutte keep her vision focused.
The Heron House, located on a 70-acre idyllic family compound on tranquil Goldsboro Creek, is a wonderful respite from modern life. This picturesque cottage is but one of many projects created by Caroline and Graybanks Design, not only on this property but elsewhere, as well, over the years.
Caroline began with the owner’s main house in the early ‘90s. As each child grew up and married, the owners acquired neighboring properties to add to the compound, giving each child and family a sanctuary of their own. They used Caroline’s passion for capitalizing on natural views, and marrying nature with the indoors, to design unique and captivating cottages that fit into the enclave perfectly.
Arriving at the Heron House, one is humorously greeted by a majestic life-size wooden Great Blue Heron gracing his second floor roost. This is but one of many one-of-a-kind pieces Caroline provides when decorating a home.
“While I excel at this, I only decorate homes I design. That’s part of my service I provide for my clients. Most of the unique pieces I have found on my journeys abroad. When I design a house, I just can’t ‘do it off the shelf.’ Every product, piece, or fixture has to have a connection,” Boutte said.
With a master’s degree in Architecture from Harvard University, and having designed some of the most significant homes in the area (including three which will be featured on the House and Garden Tour in May), Caroline is a woman of “passion, not pretense” when it comes to her work. Her eyes sparkle when she shares how her craft brings people together and memories to life. (Pro tip: if you incorporate your own mementoes and photographs with treasures a designer provides, your home will become a “Living Photo Album.”)
You can see her masterful understanding of her clients’ lifestyles everywhere in the home, as well as an artistic highlighting of nature and the creation of a home where all ages are welcome.
Considering the practical point of view, she converted a three-bedroom home into a two-bedroom home, while providing a large master bath. From a relational perspective, she considered the children in addressing all areas of the home. Not only are there no “DO NOT TOUCH” areas, she also converted an empty attic into a “Kid Kingdom” with nooks, reading areas, and room for sleeping bags. Fun skylights, safety railings, and a kid-inspired bathroom round out this level.
This waterfront cottage (the original home is circa 1900s) is one place where the outside doesn’t escape you. Having taken the original home down to its bare framing, Caroline redesigned it into an almost glass house, where you can’t look in any direction without seeing serene natural vistas. The windows are quality insulated windows that offer true divided light, are very energy efficient, and do not include plastic grills that detract from the view.
As most people know, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially with hungry children around. The Heron House kitchen is an expanded footprint that also encompasses what used to be the screened porch.
The beautiful Corian kitchen counters are easy to maintain, hard to distinguish from real stone, and incorporate a molded inset sink. Shopping for cabinets and appliances was easy — Caroline headed to Warren’s Woodworks. She decided to use Kitchen Aid appliances because they are reliable and are a good mid-range brand. Centra semi-custom kitchen cabinets were just the ticket for this project. Completing the look, recessed ceiling lights in both the kitchen and living room areas accent the sleek lines of this modern and care-free kitchen.
Meandering throughout the home, one encounters the most striking animal and nature patterns, designs, and colors on many furnishings. Perfectly aligned and arranged interior décor items give clear credit to Caroline’s self-described “craze for symmetry.” She has the gift of “spatial sequencing” and arranges things with a precision finishing touch.
“I seek to understand what a client values and what truly inspires them, and hope we can develop a bond of mutual trust and respect. If that happens, it is quite natural to win a project and any subsequent ones. The best tip is that if you are considering a significant project, don’t think of the short term but instead long term. Take time … take time to explore and develop the relationship. While you may feel like rushing into a project, the careful time you invest up front will yield a huge positive return.”