ROCKY POINT — Eight years ago, Alex Hunt was on a mission to purchase a home on the Northeast Cape Fear River. After passing a particularly secluded piece of property while boating on the river with his wife, he knew he had found their new home.
This week’s “Where We Live” takes you from the banks of the Cape Fear, through a tidal forest and into the Hunts’ hilltop abode.
The cottage is located at 165 Gooseneck Road in the private “Swann Plantation” neighborhood. Sitting on the edge of the Pender/New Hanover County line in Rocky Point, the home is just 20 minutes from downtown Wilmington.
Looking at this house from the street, you see a simple cottage. But, once you step inside, the 1,510-square-foot home really opens up. The cottage features expansive views of a landscaped pool deck and the canopy of a cypress forest that extends from the yard to the river.
A renovated home
According to Hunt, the home, built in 1988, was already a “beauty” when they moved in. He, however, had plans for the property.
Over the past six years he’s renovated nearly every corner of the home, tearing down walls and punching holes to incorporate antique stained glass windows, imported from Salisbury, England, that play to the home’s natural lighting.
“A lot of these windows are well over 100 years old,” he said.
He has also added arches to nearly every entryway, seemingly to lead you from one room to the next.
While the cottage is technically a three bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home, Hunt says those numbers are not entirely correct.
“It’s crazy, there’s two-and-a-half bedrooms. There’s two beds in one area, where I put an archway in,” Hunt said. “I turned a three-bedroom home into a house with two grand masters.”
The two-bed suite features a vanity sink in one corner, with access to a full bath, and a stained glass window facing into the hall. The design works well for the home, as the Hunts occasionally rent it out as an AirBnB.
In the master bedroom, hardwood floors lead you down a hallway that opens to an open aired deck that overlooks the backyard.
The deck sits between the two “wings” of the home, connecting the bedroom to the breakfast area, which overlooks the pool and forest beyond.
According to Hunt, the master bathroom was inspired by a trip to Australia, where he saw a very “unique” design of shower. Now, his bathroom features one of these “rain” style showers, where the actual shower head is fitted directly into the ceiling.
In the master bathroom, the shower is surrounded by stone and glass, giving it the feel of a Caribbean grotto, complete with views of the carefully groomed tropical landscape behind the house.
The living room features a wood burning fireplace, and vaulted ceilings complete with large wooden beams.
According to Hunt, the kitchen is newly renovated, and features the “latest and greatest” in appliances.
One of the most intriguing features, at least inside the home, is the kitchen wallpaper. From a distance, it shimmers gold, blending with the natural light from the dining room windows. But on closer inspection, the walls support a very delicate and intricate design, done in the style of Japanese silk art.
One of the biggest renovations made by Hunt was the addition of the breakfast room, which is the gateway to the world outside.
“Everything you see over there has been added,” Hunt said, pointing to the breakfast room. “I kicked out those windows so we could have window seats, and then added all the wrought iron around the windows.”
The great outdoors
Leading out from the breakfast room is a massive staircase that directs you down a sweeping rock wall into the back yard.
Stopping to take in the view halfway down these stairs, you’re greeted by an jungle-like scene, with giant elephant ear plants, peppermint crepe myrtles, massive cypress trees, and numerous flowering plants dotting the 1.5 acres of forest and stone landscape.
While “yard” may not be exactly the best description for what awaits you downstairs, Hunt says that “it does make the job of mowing the grass relatively simple.”
This perception is further enhanced by the stone waterfall located off to one side, which offers a steady staccato of dripping water to the background of the scene. Beside the waterfall is a 20 by 40 foot saltwater pool, which sits next to a grilling station and wood-fired pizza oven.
Underneath the deck, two sets of large wooden doors swing outward from the home. Behind the first doorway is a fully furnished game room, complete with a ping pong table, seating, and cabinetry loaded with board games.
Across from this room, another set of heavy wooden doors leads to an open “party” room, complete with a wet bar, which allows access to a footpath around the home.
These “castle” doors are set behind heavy stone columns and wrought iron features that have been custom made for the Hunts’ home. To do this custom work, Hunt hired a blacksmith to forge the iron, and brought in masons from Portugal to help with the curving walls and arches.
While the homes design is made to embrace the natural setting that surrounds it, what stands out most is the nature itself. The pool deck, which is 17 ft. above sea level, drops away onto a wooden staircase that leads away into the woods.
The tidal forest
As the sounds of the pool deck drift away in the breeze, you round a corner, passing through a high wooden pergola that gives way to the forest.
At the bottom of the stairs, you may want to pause and take it all in. The boardwalk passes 650 feet through a tidal forest full of ancient cypress trees and, according to Hunt, much of the area’s wildlife.
Hunt says, deer, alligator, and a variety of birds make the primordial feeling forest home.
“There really is something therapeutic about walking through woods like these,” Hunt said.
After a long walk, you will eventually end up on the shore of the Cape Fear River. At the end of the boardwalk, there’s a finished boat house, complete with a grill, and enough floating dock space to support a 60 foot boat.
“This has got to be one of the most unique pieces of property out there,” Hunt said. “With the cypress trees, and the brackish water, what more could you ask for?”
Although the Hunts’ have spent many great days in the home and on the water, it’s time for them to sell the riverfront cottage.
The house is currently listed at $598,500, and is zoned for Rocky Point Elementary, Cape Fear Junior High and Heide Trask High School.
Where We Live is a weekly feature looking at the homes and unique places to stay in the Cape Fear Region. Do you have a home, on or off the market, that our readers may be interested in seeing? Let us know at PCD@localvoicemedia.com.