A Rustic Chic Lake Lodge
Building a home for the best of lakeside living
By KATHERINE PETTIT » Photos by JAY BROWNE
Every detail of design and decoration for Paul and Barbara’s new home on the shores of Lake Murray was thoughtfully considered and meticulously applied.
“We wanted a home that was elegant, but not opulent,” explained Barbara from their living room overlooking the water. “We combined elements of a lake lodge design with a shabby chic décor, but really, we’ve ended up with rustic chic in a lodge-like setting.”
They have, indeed.
She’s originally from Maryland and he from Pennsylvania. They met about 23 years ago, married and moved to Savannah. After 14 years of saltwater boating, they decided they liked the idea of “less maintenance, more boating,” and began their search for a beautiful freshwater lake.
“We discovered a number of attractive lakes, but we fell in love with Lake Murray,” Paul explained. Once they began their search, they recognized that a big water view was an essential part of the mix. It also became apparent that they wanted to build their dream home rather than move into someone else’s house.
Although Barbara is retired from a real estate career, she also enjoyed interior decorating and redecorated numerous clients’ homes in Savannah. Paul, a retired dentist, also looked forward to building and together, they built a design folder. “We largely knew what we wanted, but we needed someone who was able to put our thoughts on paper,” said Barbara. “Then, we found Dick Gallup, who gave us the design build experience we wanted.”
The plan evolved to include one-level, day-to-day living facing the water. The foyer sets the stage, with a large, 1920s antique crystal chandelier they found hanging in the café of a local antique mall that Barbara paired with double-pressed tin wall sconces that illuminate the stairs down to the lake level. “I enjoy combining styles and eclectic décor, hence the shabby chic look. I had the freedom to make lots of decisions, but Paul had veto power,” Barbara laughed.
And now, the end result is a perfect collaboration of art, science and nature. Elegant, rustic, fabulous.
You look straight through to the living room, with a much more casual wrought iron and beaded light fixture. Beyond that, a protected porch reveals expansive water views. Alfalfa and Cotton, the couple’s two Coton de Tulear fur babies (the breed is named for the soft coats typical of these dogs), are everywhere. These official pups of Madagascar are quite at home here, and supervise all that happens inside and outdoors.
The open living room focus is a massive stone fireplace anchored by a northwest-grown twisted juniper tree mantle, perfect for the four-season living the homeowners were seeking. Most of the furniture and accessories were brought from their home in Savannah, with a few new items purchased to round out the décor. A large floor lamp next to the fireplace swivels and can be raised or lowered with the help of a marble weight. “Everyone comments about the lamp,” Barbara shared.
On the opposite wall is the wet bar, with a beautiful onyx focal point, and an antique cash register. Civil war artifacts grace the bar and a nearby grandfather clock keeps perfect time. Originally built for Paul’s grandfather, it made the move south and seems settled here.
To the left is the kitchen, with its large island topped by granite from Brazil, called “Rainforest.” The cabinetry is mostly below counter level. It’s all custom-made and designed for each work station. The knives and prep tools are adjacent to the prep sink, while pots and pans are hidden away in drawers below the large gas stove. “I didn’t want all the reaching and bending, so everything is easily accessible including my frying pans, which hang vertically, hidden away,” Barbara said. The large farmhouse sink makes clean-up a breeze, while the built-in ovens feature options for baking, broiling, convection and microwave.
The back of the kitchen leads to the laundry room and entrance from the garage, where seated cubbies offer neat put-aways upon entering the home.
The powder room is also tucked away. She said, “It’s my second favorite room in the house, but that seems silly for a powder room, doesn’t it?” Not at all. The palette is cool and the dark ceiling spotlights a crystal light fixture to add that elegant touch, offsetting the equally attractive, but rustic, barn board vanity.
Back in the kitchen and throughout the home, specialty lighting makes the surfaces and beautiful dark wooden floors pop and adds appealing visibility to the space. A kitchen interior wall holds an antique French provincial buffet with hutch, refinished as a labor of love by Barbara. She added burlap fabric to the back interior to showcase the couple’s favorite pieces, while softening the formal look of the piece. “It’s one of the few pieces we bought for the house, but we simply had to have it,” she said.
Guests gather around the island, at the dining table, or in the sunroom with its sky-blue ceiling, bronze medallion and clerestory windows. It’s a cozy room that can be a private retreat or a window to the lake. On the wall, “Spindrift,” a numbered print by Andrew Wyeth (found in a corner of an antique store) may have helped to inspire Paul’s most recent project. “I’ve always enjoyed woodworking, but didn’t have much time to indulge,” he said. “I’ve just finished building my first boat, and it’s already been in the water.”
A screened-in porch is off the dining room and a large grand piano separates dining from living. The open covered porch off the living room is partially protected by the screened-in porch, deliberately designed so the couple can enjoy watching the weather change – without feeling the elements. “That’s been an unexpected pleasure for us,” shared Paul. “We can watch the wind create white caps on the water and change directions in the blink of an eye, or view storm clouds billow in from the west in no time at all. It’s a front row seat for all Mother Nature offers us here.”
Because of the slope of the land down to lake level, the back of the house is two stories, which was also part of the design. “We wanted to be higher for daily living, to add to our views,” Barbara said. “We see wildlife all the time from our vantage point on the porch.”
On the far side of the living room is the master bedroom, facing the lake. A triple tray ceiling adds contrast to the Benjamin Moore “Feather Quill” paint on the ceiling. The master bath features a tiny window which looks much larger from the outside, but insures privacy with a bit of added light. The walk-in shower utilizes porcelain tiles with the look of barn wood, and pebble accents. A chandelier (of course!) adds an elegant juxtaposition to their private sanctuary. The vanity is covered with leathered granite, allowing the stone to sparkle here and there, but feel comfortable and welcoming.
And that’s the living area. Unlike many homes, however, the guest quarters are downstairs, where the real work happens.
Barbara is an artist and owner of Purple Martin Pottery, born when the couple moved to the Lake Murray area. “Our home looks upon the largest Purple Martin roosting site in all of North America and possibly the world,” she explained. “My surname is Martin and purple is my favorite color.” Her studio is on the lower level, with interior and exterior kilns. She enjoys incorporating design techniques such as feathering and horsehair, using her Raku outdoor kiln to fire her designs at extremely high temperatures. “It’s a fairly new interest of mine and I love turning clay into objects of beauty,” she explained.
Across the downstairs, past the bar, and through another living room with a large stone fireplace is Paul’s workshop, where the aforementioned boat came to life. “It’s a real working shop,” he apologized as we stepped past the materials and storage to find the boat just outside, ready for another paddle.
There are two bedrooms and two bathrooms on this floor, as well as a lower-level outdoor porch that leads to the firepit – their third favorite thing about this most inviting home. On any given night, when the temperature drops below 70, the Adirondack chairs around the fire are often filled with friends, enjoying the flickering light and warmth, as the sun sets beyond the water. Purple Martin Pottery, 912-713-8900.