Inviting Elegance

Posted On September 21, 2019

Interior designer Kelli Limehouse doesn’t do “fluffy, puffy or stuffy.”  That’s why these lake residents love her work.

By Katherine Pettit    Photos by Jay Browne

When Alec and Malisa Herring found a great house in a Timberlake neighborhood along the shores of Lake Murray, they turned to the designer who had worked magic for them before. The result is a beautifully inviting home that defies easy description. It’s modern, with classic elements and rustic touches, woven seamlessly together. And that’s all by design.

“We wanted to put our personality into this beautiful house and Kelli understands who we are and what we like,” Malisa explained from a comfy sofa in the great room that looks toward the lake. Just don’t put labels on this couple, because although they both know what they like, they’re open to ideas and especially Kelli’s aesthetic sense of color, texture and technology.

Alec Herring is a poultry broker and Malisa is a kindergarten teacher, and their two children are young adults. For the past eight years, the family, along with treasured pup, Peedie, has embraced the lake life, in a home designed for entertaining as well as enjoying every day.  

At the entrance, the foyer looks through to the great room, but first, there’s an amazing clock. Not your grandfather’s clock, this beauty has trapezoidal lines and a bit of wizardry that allows traditional winding or battery function. It’s sleek and tall and is Alec Herring’s favorite piece in the house. If he ever decides to sell it, I’m available!

One of Malissa’s favorite things hangs overhead, high in the foyer sky. It’s a sparkling jewel of a chandelier – not classic or modern, and really, really beautiful. Stairs head up to the second floor, but first, there’s the main level to explore, starting with that inviting great room.  

“We looked at several houses,” Alec said, “and as soon as we found this one, we quit looking. After all, how many homes include almost ten miles of view straight down toward the dam?” Very few indeed. A comfortable porch opens from the great room and invites the family and visitors to relax and enjoy those views and lake breezes. 

Although the outside is view-worthy, the inside has much to draw the eye as well. The colors are natural and calming, with a pale blue, cream and khaki color palette. The ceilings are more than 20 feet, and on one wall, a large triptych throws a jewel-toned abstract into the mix. Look up and see the coffered ceilings with their elegant, classic touch. The overlook from the second floor beckons, but first, a look at the couple’s main floor living quarters is in order. 

The master bedroom is an expansive retreat, with million dollar views of the lake and a soaking tub for total relaxation, or staying in touch via the television on the wall. Malisa’s mother calls their shower the “carwash” for its long footprint. “Walk through there and come out clean,” laughs Malisa. It is long and narrow, tucked behind the tub and very inviting. The couple’s closet is more than a walk-in. It’s a room with plenty of storage and easy accessibility. Everything you need to start your day – or end it. 

On the other side of the great room is the kitchen; very modern, sleek and extremely functional. The island is massive, with a dark wooden base which looks like a piece of furniture. The table set in the alcove is another large piece, made from reclaimed, distressed wood, surrounded by chairs and a sweet “love seat” which is where their young adult children, Zach and Bailee, love to sit. Again, the ceilings impress, with a wagon wheel-shaped coffered ceiling that fans out toward that amazing lake view.

Functionality is key, with a standard oven, a steaming oven and the microwave tucked under the counter of the island – easy access when desired. Because it’s open to the great room, the flow is perfect for gatherings great and small. The dining room is just steps away, adjacent to the foyer, at the front of the house (although that terminology itself is deceptive.  For those who live on the lake, the side toward the water is often considered the front, since so many guests arrive by boat.) The color choice here is a warm brown, with another stunner of a chandelier over the large dining room table. This room may be the most formal in the home, but it still invites one in to enjoy the molding, ceilings and beautiful accessories. 

A well-appointed office, half-bath and laundry room complete the main floor.

Upstairs, two bedrooms and a bathroom lead the way to the family theatre room – the children’s favorite. It seats twelve in comfy recliners and bar stools, with a bathroom just off the seating area. From current blockbusters to classic films, the setting is plush and dark, like movie theatres in the days when watching a great film was an event to be anticipated and enjoyed. In this room, it still is.

Back on the main floor, around the corner and behind the kitchen is another stairway, going down to what Alec calls his man cave. It’s his favorite room of the house. But before descending, another large painting catches the eye. It’s an abstract purchased at Chapin Fine Arts, again in jewel tones that evoke the lake at sunset. Perfect.

The downstairs sets a different mood, with lots of dark wood, an inviting bar and kitchen combination, and seating that veers toward rich and cozy. The pool table, bistro-inspired booth and a large wooden table are flanked by another television and oversized, high-backed chairs for watching the billiards tournaments which must be held there. An outside door from the man cave reveals another sitting area, a bit more secluded than the upstairs porch, which leads out into the grass and the walkway to the dock and boat.  

To the left, a water feature runs the length of the yard, adding pleasant sounds to the views. “It was supposed to be much smaller, but as we were planning it with Eric Holmes, who created it for us, the scale grew to extend from the house to the water,” said Malisa. “We love the way it turned out.” 

Both porches are reflections and extensions of the rooms that lead to them. When asked which she preferred, Malisa shook her head. “I like them both, but probably spend more time downstairs because I sit and enjoy the peace and quiet while Peedie plays in the yard.   

There’s another bedroom and bath which have been beautifully decorated by Kelli, and an exercise room which could easily become a fifth bedroom if desired. A door leads to storage and lots of it.  Malisa’s mother fashions beautiful wreaths for all occasions and they await their specific holiday to be displayed. Christmas trees stand ready to take their place around the home when December arrives.  “Easily-accessed storage is so convenient,” Malisa said.

 There’s much that’s convenient and practical in the home, but there’s also thoughtful design and decorating that have made it a wonderful home to enjoy at the end of the day, after the work is done and the water-infused twilight hours haven’t yet begun.