Text By Lauren Eberle
Matt and Gwin Barr have three children and two dogs. But take a spin around their cottage, and you’re sure to find more folks cozied up on the couch, gathered around the fire pit, or perhaps even reclining on the back porch’s swinging bed.
“Keep a well-stocked fridge and people will come,” Gwin quips. This is the kind of home where guests gather—and the Barrs wouldn’t have it any other way. “We love sophisticated style,” Gwin says, “but more importantly, we want our home to feel comfortable and welcoming for every visitor that walks through the door.”
Indeed, first impressions matter. In fact, Gwin fell in love with this 1935 house when she was a child growing up in Salisbury, North Carolina. Only the third family to own the 80-year-old home, the Barrs—with the help of designers and friends—have had the pleasure of maintaining much of its original charm while making the house suit the needs of their busy lifestyle.
One of the first projects was the kitchen, where the family chose to move a wall farther into the dining room to accommodate the refrigerator and oven, while still leaving space for the island. When the weather allows, the back porch brings the indoors outside with an inviting farmhouse table, plenty of seating, and golf course views. Other gatherings require a more formal setting, such as the dining room, where the gilded wall treatment is the focal point.
Despite a mutual love of entertaining, when it’s time for Matt and Gwin to relax, their master suite becomes a serene retreat. “It was all framed around the glorious bathtub,” explains Gwin, who notes that the lighting, simplistic design, and even the soft seafoam green palette was intended to mimic a spa. An equally tranquil sitting room reveals textured walls, beautiful built-ins, and a pair of his and hers chairs ideal for sipping coffee, poring over the paper, or planning the next occasion for guests to gather.
“This was my dream house for years, and I hope it will be our forever home,” Gwin says. “But what I truly love the most is sharing it with others.”