A Handmade Home is not necessarily rustic or filled with objects handmade by the owner. To me, the Handmade Home is one designed by a person with a distinct sense of style. This home could belong to no one else because it is a reflection of that person’s unique style and discerning eye. Walking into such a home, the visitor feels welcome. She can sense the hands of the owner arranging objects just so.
My friend Julie Bresnan’s home in Biltmore Forest is such a place. This house is very different from all the other houses Julie and her husband John have lived in since they moved to the Carolinas from Connecticut in the ‘90s. It has a Mid-Century/ Asian feel, and yet the American antiques, art, and furniture that they have been collecting forever look perfect in it. Coincidentally, the Bresnans have been collecting Chinese and Japanese art and antiques since they lived in Charleston and have some astonishing pieces, including a large collection of Chinese Export birds. These have found the perfect home in this spacious, airy home with its Asian flavor.
I first met Julie in Charlotte when our daughters became friends at Country Day. She came to the door of our little house in Myers Park and when I opened it, I was struck by how beautiful she is. She was born and raised in LA and looks like a movie star. She is always perfectly groomed and is tall and elegant. Her dark hair turned white when she was very young, giving her an exotic air.
Since I first met the Bresnans, I have been a guest in at least seven of their homes. John Bresnan is a serial house buyer and the minute Julie puts the finishing touches on a house, John finds another one that he likes even better and the packing and moving begin again. Julie always just sighs and gets ready to decorate all over again. Luckily, she is amazing at it.
Every item in the house was selected for this house by Julie or John, and nothing is used in the home that doesn’t work perfectly where it is placed. They have many heirlooms, but such things are displayed only if they are right for a particular spot. Other inherited things are hidden in cupboards, even if they are pieces that granny really loved.
The house is a work in progress. John is a regular at the Brunk Auction; he can’t resist a bargain and is a ferocious bidder! Recently he bought a large Art Deco table and sconces which will go into the breakfast nook, and the antique pieces that have lived in that space will be moved into a newly glassed in porch.
One of my favorite spaces in the house is probably the smallest room, Julie’s cozy office with its charming fireplace surrounded by old tiles. Julie showed me the dark green paint sample and fabric swatches for pillows that she is planning on adding to the two armchairs.
The project that Julie most enjoys, though, is a Japanese tea garden planned for a patio just outside the back door. When Julie asked the designer where guests would sit to drink tea, he told Julie that (Obviously!!) one doesn’t drink the tea there, but must move to a tea house. But, alas, there is currently no tea house on the grounds. Luckily, Ron has agreed to turn an unused shed on the property into such a dreamy space. But, all in all, the house in Biltmore Forest is a dream come true in every way.