Into the Woods With Designer John Oetgen

How about a cozy, contemporary cabin to  snuggle into on a wintry day? Then snuggle in with this month’s issue of Veranda. “Cozy” and “contemporary” aren’t often best buds, but here is Atlanta designer John Oetgen showing us they indeed can be in his own weekend getaway, MaryJack, named after his parents and nestled in th North Carolina Appalachian enclave of Highlands. And what’s more, it’s a mountain house with not an antler in sight.

Nothing against antlers.

Photos are all by Max Kim-Bee.

 John Oetgen (we call him O) and his partner John Lineweaver (we call him L), are both longtime friends of our family. My sister and I are lucky to have worked with John O, and occasionally gifted graphic designer John L, through the years. Lord, more years than I want to say.

Look at this wall of art. Don’t you love how he mixes it all up? Pieces, some by O himself, are hung from ceiling to floor, all higgledy piggledy. And yet not. It’s fun. You walk in this house and you know the people who live here are cute and fun.

IMG_1008 - Version 2 

I am sorry I did not get to write this story for the magazine (I wrote another in the same issue, posting next), but if I had written it, I would not have gotten to say things like “cute and fun” because it sounds goofy in a serious magazine. Whereas here I can sound goofy in a goofy blog.

But do read David Keeps’s excellent story “Into the Woods” and see more photos in Veranda.

 Note how the windows go nearly floor-to-ceiling. It gets dark in them thar woods, so the more light the better. Plus the scale is effective. O designed this place from scratch, which you probably already figured.

 The double-height porch is wonderful. The whole place is relaxed, redolent with personal artifacts, keepsakes and family heirlooms, and ready and waitin’ for friends, children, dogs, and long, boozy lunches.

Like the living room, the porch has a double-height ceiling.

 We need another look at that mirror. I nearbout fainted when I saw it. Very Tony Duquette, but salvaged from a French theater.

This mirror came out of a French opera house.

Double, the Bearded Collie,  is probably not tempted by cabbages and melons, pretty as they are, but I wouldn’t trust him with the fried chicken. Just sayin.

Oetgen Table

Cute and fun. Yessir.

John Oetgen, left, Double, and John Lineweaver

Photos by Max Kim-Bee.


  1. I am curious…who is your sister? Would I know her from my avid shelter reading habit? BTW, I am living in NC about 2 hours from Tarboro. Cannot believe you grew up there. Small world. 🙂 Loved your article in Veranda. I always enjoy your dry wit and smart insight.

    1. Hi Dianne and thanks for writing! My younger prettier sister is Duvall Schultz Fuqua. See comment just preceding yours. Lol;) And thank you for your kind words. So glad to have you along.

  2. Gorgeous Home. After living in Ca for 27 years, I love to read or hear of home.
    The mountains of Tn & also NC. Such beautiful decorations.

    My beloved Beardie, Ms Molly, has been gone now since 2/09. I love seeing any Beardies, gorgeous animals. One day, I do hope to be able to have another.
    Thank you for your blog.

  3. A number of people contacted me to let me know that I had a mention in Veranda and I finally went out to get a copy of the magazine yesterday. What a pleasant surprise! It’s so nice to have such a place of honor in the house. I like the quote about the house being a ‘cabin of curiosities’. It doesn’t look much like a cabin to me, although it is warm looking without the hauteur you so often see in interiors magazines. I think I will switch my job description to ‘maker of curiosities.’

    1. Yes Hugh and congratulations for well-deserved recognition! I can’t think of a finer title than “Maker of Curiosities.” As you see in my last blog post, I am a rather a fan of curiosities myself! Please keep in touch, Frances

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