August 18th, 2015
A Storybook Home


By: Debra Dylan

Photos by: Buck Kahler

After three years of construction, Larry and Heidi May’s Mayfair Cottage is nearing completion.

Larry & Heidi May. Larry says, "We don't want to be normal."

Larry & Heidi May in their enchanting Blount County home.

It began with blueprints from Storybook Homes.



A contractor completed the stonework and Larry May added all of the details.

Rivets and copper paint give boring utilitarian fixtures a steampunk appearance.

The attic and washer/dryer vents are covered with gargoyles purchased at a hobby store. May says, “In the winter it looks like they are blowing smoke.”



The original front window looked modern and ordinary, so May sculpted a window frame using 2″ thick pink foam from Home Depot. He covered the foam with fiberglass and hand painted the lichen on the frame.

Window collage

The house plans called for a garage on the side of the cottage, but May had other ideas. “Everybody should have a creepy tunnel,” he says.

May built up the land alongside and above the tunnel. A native plant garden surrounds the area. A friend made the prison door.


The tunnel’s cement passageway leads to the basement.  May crafted the skull molds with a Halloween mask and concrete. The plastic cauldrons are a hat tip to Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books.


A charming orchard with a variety of organic berries, fruit trees, and grapes is planted across from the tunnel and in front of the horse barn.


The barn’s beautiful horse head sculptures (or Knight chess pieces) were inspired by Théoden’s Palace in Lord of the Rings.


May used 2-part expanding foam in a ceramic mold to create the sculptures. He covered the foam with fiberglass and painted the sculptures to look like worn wood.

The round tower front entrance boasts a Medieval look.

front door collage

The living room and kitchen are open and airy with a French country look. The floor is distressed pine and family names are subtly stenciled into the floor.




The attic door and air conditioning vent are also visible in the great room. May deviated from the typical drop-down rectangular attic door. A cheap decorative screen hides the unattractive vent.


The cozy library and master bedroom are perfect for lounging around on a rainy day.



May says the family’s former home looked like an 18th century church. He proudly admits, “We don’t want to be normal. Or boring.”

Click on above photos to enlarge.

© Knoxzine, 2015.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy Better Yurts and Gardens and Knox Pallet House(The Knox Pallet House video won an Award of Excellence for Public Affairs Documentary at the 2014 Golden Press Club Awards.)



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