At Home: Sissy & Ryland Owen
Story by Leah Shapiro | Photos by Paul M. Howey
Stroll through the spacious home and gardens owned by Sissy and Ryland Owen, and you’d assume they’d hired professional woodworkers, interior designers, and landscapers to do everything. If you peeked into Ryland’s newly constructed workshop, however, or flipped through one of Sissy’s décor magazines, you’d quickly realize this couple crafted their own home’s eclectic and charming style from the very beginning.
A Florida-native, Sissy traveled as a young girl with her family to Hendersonville each summer when it became too hot for her father’s flower business to thrive in the Sunshine State. Here, in the moderate heat of the mountains, his gladiolas could blossom and the family could enjoy some reprieve from the sun. Sissy eventually inherited these nine acres of land he’d owned since 1960. At the time, only a two-bedroom cabin stood on it.
Sissy and Ryland were living in Atlanta when, in 2005, they made plans to move from the busy city. “The house we had lived in, in Atlanta, had been designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, so we knew we wanted the ‘open’ feel,” explains Sissy, who can show you the cardboard on which they drafted a design of their home by rearranging small rectangles. “We had all these pieces of paper and kept cutting and trimming and fitting because you’d put a piece on and think, ‘Oh my goodness, you’re sitting at the doorway to the stairs.’” They sent their designs to a company in Vancouver that shipped the wood pieces over by truck.
A talented woodworker, welder, and all-around handyman, Ryland obtained his contractor’s license and for three years worked on the construction of the house. Although this new home, at 3,200 square feet, was a bit smaller than the one in Atlanta, the 64 windows and large doorways, make the home feel spacious and welcoming to guests.
“This wood fireplace is my favorite part,” says Sissy, referring to the Quadra-Fire wood-burning fireplace, which heats most of the house during the winter. In this timber frame style house, Douglas fir and spruce walls and ceilings add bright tonality to the inside. Wood is the most popular material in the home, with some of it coming straight from the Owen’s surrounding forest.
A local sawyer slices fallen trees into boards, which can spend years drying under corrugated roof pieces outside. “We use the wood for furniture in the home,” Sissy explains. The countertop in the kitchen, for instance, is smoothed black walnut wood and the shelves are from a poplar tree.
Outside, hummingbirds flock to the many hanging feeders while bees buzz around the chrysanthemums, rhododendrons, peonies, and other assorted flowers in the garden. “It’s an ‘organized chaos,’” says Sissy with a smile. Outside on the roof, there are Oriental-style eves that flair out on the sides and are complemented by Ryland’s paper lanterns that hang in the kitchen. Seven metal rain chains collect rainwater and protect the soil from downpours. Through a patch of sunflowers, you can still spot the guest cabin, where visitors frequently stay.
Sissy and Ryland travel frequently for work, which fortunately gives them the opportunity to find inspiration and accent pieces in different cities around the country. From the Canadian sheep footstools to the intricate ceiling beams, this Hendersonville home has a personal touch top to bottom.