Katie and Loren’s Handcrafted Home and Apothecary Nestled in the Trees

published Oct 18, 2015
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(Image credit: Tamara Gavin)

Name: Katie Vie & Loren Wooten and their dog, Mathy
Location: Asheville, NC
Size: 1,400 square feet, including an unheated garage
Years lived in: 6 months; Owned

Though Katie designed this house and Loren crafted many of its details, they maintain a fluid relationship with it, saying, “This home is not our ‘baby’ — it’s not precious to us in that way. Instead, it’s our creative project where it’s okay if things aren’t perfect. Things can change and evolve.” The unexpected elements — such as the screened-in porch in the trees — are what they love about their home. Looking at it as a continuous project that unfolds over time (Katie says it takes about five years to really get settled in a home) keeps them interested and free of regrets.

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The house was designed by Katie. She and Loren like ’80s architecture featuring dramatic roof pitches and vaulted ceilings, and they were happy that the shed roof of her design was cost-effective and gave a similar look. She also mentioned she would like to add some sculptural elements to the exterior, including the tall wall above the stairs. (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)
(Image credit: Tamara Gavin)

Leaving things to chance is how Katie likes to approach design. In fact, she designed the home in just 24 hours. She originally had a different floor plan for the house, but upon breaking ground on their property, she learned the homesite was actually on top of an old, abandoned septic drain field. She quickly re-arranged the spaces and stacked them on top of each other to fit on a different part of the property, resulting in a taller three-story structure which they now call The Treehouse. The added staircase gave them space in which to tuck another bathroom on the main floor, and the upstairs became sort of an accidental summer guest suite when Katie and Loren discovered they prefer to sleep on the porch, where they can feel the breeze and hear the crickets. Staying flexible has allowed these unforeseen features to emerge and has given Katie and Loren the opportunity to enjoy and inhabit their space in the most natural way, rather than forcing activities into designated rooms.

Many of the materials used throughout the house were obtained in a similar fashion. Not a single sink in the house is new, and various fixtures were created out of found objects. Both raised by yard-sale-going mothers, Katie and Loren like to hit up the junkyards together and give new life to pieces they find. Loren ended up turning this talent into a business called Bare Knuckle Studios. His furniture pieces, with their nuts and bolts proudly exposed, are featured throughout the house. He also built the freestanding kitchen, countertops, and shelving.

Katie, an aromatherapy teacher and the owner of home-based River Island Apothecary, has well-exercised senses which she lives by, and her design aesthetic is no exception. She prefers design that keeps her honest, she says. She intentionally designed the home without closets and the kitchen without cabinets. Katie said she didn’t want any place to cheat or any temptations to hide things. As someone who has lived in numerous small spaces — including in an off-the-grid yome and on a motorcycle with a single backpack on long cross-country trips with Loren — Katie is accustomed to a minimalist lifestyle. Possessions have the ability to weigh on a person, and Katie prefers to feel light and free so she can be lifted by those winds of chance whenever they make their next appearance.

(Image credit: Tamara Gavin)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Industrial Farmhouse

Inspiration: ‘80s meets junkyard

Favorite Element: Screened-in porch

Biggest Challenge: Patience

What Friends Say: It’s nurturing, has great flow, and thoughtful details.

Biggest Embarrassment: No one can get up our driveway.

Proudest DIY: The kitchen

Biggest Indulgence: Lighting

Best Advice: Think about how you live and inhabit a space, and then design from there.


(Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Designed by Katie Vie
  • Built by Red Shed Woodworks
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Walls: Valspar Loft Light
  • Kitchen accent wall: Valspar Maple
  • Exterior trim and doors: Valspar Stained Glass
  • Ceilings: tongue and groove pine
  • Floors: cabin-grade pre-finished gunstock oak flooring
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Antique cabinet (used as the pantry): family heirloom
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Trim: Bare Knuckle Studios
  • Wood stove: True North by Pacific Energy
  • Concrete hearth: Bare Knuckle Studios
  • Sofas: West Elm
  • Late summer blanket: Lisa Mandle Studio
  • End table: Katie’s grandmother’s sewing table
  • Tall floor lamp: from Katie’s childhood bedroom
  • Sconce: Confetti by KS Studio
  • Green overhead light: church basement sale
  • Rug on the wall: bought in Italy in the mid-’60s while Katie’s mother was there on vacation
  • Bar: Bare Knuckle Studios
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Designed and built by Katie and Loren
  • Sink: Marshall Junk Shop
  • Cabinet hardware: from a house Katie owned in West Asheville
  • Kitchen shelving: Bare Knuckle Studios
  • Kitchen appliances: Frigidaire Gallery
  • Pendant lights: K2 Studio
  • Bar: Bare Knuckle Studios, featuring a solid red oak bar top and metal roofing from a West Asheville house that Katie owned
  • Concrete countertop: Bare Knuckle Studios, featuring glass collected from Lake Erie
  • Slate tile: salvaged
  • Most of the pottery: Emily Reason
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Most items: found
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Skateboard shelves: Bare Knuckle Studios
  • Sink: salvaged
  • Shadowbox: Loren’s father made it to display tools which belonged to Loren’s great-grandfather.
  • Flooring: Galvano Charcoal tile
  • Mirror: a wedding gift to Katie’s maternal grandparents in 1939
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Reclaimed wood bed: Bare Knuckle Studios
  • Narrow table: built by Loren’s father
  • Wicker chair: Katie’s great grandparents’
  • Loren’s surfboard: McKevlin’s Surf Shop on Folly Beach, bought in 1998 — he still uses it…
  • Chenille throw: Church Hill Weavers
  • Everything else: salvaged or found
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Flooring: Galvano Charcoal tile
  • Shower walls: Galvano Charcoal tile
  • Shower floor: WNC Ceramic Tile
  • Whale sculpture: by Laird Lanier
  • Towel rack: Bare Knuckle Studios, featuring salvaged chain link fencing parts
  • Bathroom vanity: Bare Knuckle Studios, featuring Lake Erie glass
  • Sink: salvaged
  • Faucet: found — it was meant for a kitchen sink but works for the bathroom!
  • Mirror: Nothing New — it’s a Carolina Mirror made in N. Wilksboro, 1965.
  • Products: Katie’s body care line, River Island Apothecary
  • (Image credit: Tamara Gavin)


  • Ceiling: rough sawn pine
  • Bookshelves, cabinets, and workbench by Bare Knuckle Studios
  • Desk: inherited from a good friend of Loren’s
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    Thanks, Katie & Loren!