The Dream Comes True
After traveling the world, a couple chooses Lake Murray for their forever retirement home
By KATHERINE PETTIT » Photos by JAY BROWNE
What kept Art Viebrock going during his five years working in Shanghai were thoughts that soon, very soon, he and wife Mary Ann would be building their home on Lake Murray. How they got there was by way of New York, Ohio, Augusta and China for work, and Italy for fun.
High school sweethearts in New City, New York, the couple moved a number of times for Viebrock’s work with what was originally Union Carbide. As his career began to wind down and they were contemplating the next step, they took a trip to Italy, where they met and developed strong friendships with two couples. One lived on Lake Wylie; the other on Lake Murray. They loved the lake, but then they were sent to Shanghai for five years. While Viebrock worked out the intricate details of engineering and construction of a chemical plant in another country, Mary Ann volunteered with Shanghai Healing Home and the Baobei Foundation, non-profit organizations committed to helping Chinese orphans seek medical treatment and their forever homes. But they knew the experience was temporary, because they already had a dream to live on a lake. “We arrived in China with 7 boxes and shipped 70 boxes home,” Viebrock said.
“We found a homesite at Timberlake after returning to the states, and our realtor introduced us to Scott Walter of Magnolia Homes,” he said. Former owners had talked with Walter about building on the property, but changed their minds. “We talked with several builders, but Magnolia was our choice, for their quality work and the way we got along with Scott and his wife, Susan.”
Magnolia is a family-owned construction business, owned and operated by the Walters, who both hold bachelor’s degrees in construction management with minors in business management and 20 years of experience. Walter is a licensed real estate agent and both have worked with nationally recognized homebuilders before starting Magnolia Custom Homes of SC in 2003.
“The lot had beautiful views on .44 acres, but it was a bit of a challenge between the house being 80’ wide and deep, the subdivision’s setback requirements, staying above the flood zone, and positioning the house to maximize the lake views,” Walter said. “We had to be very precise in the layout.”
The Viebrocks found a home design they liked, but added rooms and changed a few things before and during construction, not a problem for Magnolia. “We like to say that if a customer can dream it or find it on the internet, we can build it.” And so they did, with beautiful and comfortable results for the five bedrooms, four baths (and two half-baths), and expansive common living areas.
Most living occurs on the main floor, although they spend as much time outside as possible. The entry opens to the dining area on the left and living straight ahead, with a deck beyond. To the left is the open kitchen with Venetian Gold granite, and a screened-in porch. A short hall leads to the pantry, laundry room and stairs to the FROG, which became the first guest bedroom, plus family storage.
To the right is the office, and the couple’s master bedroom, walk-in closet and master bath. A door from the bedroom opens onto the deck, and the views are stunning.
The colors are warm gold and beige. Unique tray ceilings (some double-tray) add height and detail to the dining room and kitchen, while tall ceilings in the living room change things up a bit. Everywhere you look are mementos from their travels. “I know we’re a bit eclectic, with treasured items from our world travels and inherited from our grandparents,” Mary Ann shared.
That’s clear from the moment you walk inside. The curio closet in the office contain her late mother’s Hummel collection. A religious statue of the Infant of Prague was a gift to his grandmother more than 80 years ago, and holds an honored place in the home. The china hutch contains china and crystal from Ireland which came from her grandmother. Comfortable sofas provide ample views of the lake, plus appealing conversation areas. It would be a very comfortable home if it stopped there. But there’s more.
Downstairs are three bedrooms, all with private baths. The third bedroom and bath were added by Viebrock after construction was completed. “I built it myself over six months, but Walter shared details about materials to help it become a seamless addition.” In fact, it’s a favorite guest room of their daughter, because it is at the back of the house, cool and dark at night for sleeping. The front two bedrooms to the right have appealing lake views with large windows to maximize light.
Walter added another sitting area, most notable for the map of the world over the sofa. Look closely and you can find pins and photos in the places they’ve visited through the years.
The front sitting room is great for parties. A Terracotta warrior greets visitors descending the stairs. “I think it’s a rule that you have to bring one of these statues home from China,” Viebrock laughed. A wet bar and small fridge keep supplies handy and a light fixture from Greece adds a bit of sparkle to the room.
Just next to the outside door is a half bath. “We reconfigured the door to open from the inside, but be easily accessible from the outside,” Mary Ann said. The change was one of several accomplished mid-building. “There is no such thing as a ‘problem-free’ build job,” Walter explained. “What defines us as a builder is our ability to communicate effectively during construction, even when challenges arise.”
Step outside on the ground level and the views open up with an inviting patio and outdoor stone kitchen, the most recent add-on project completed by Viebrock. A bird statue from Jamaica overlooks the area, while songbirds call in the back yard. “I did not attempt the brickwork required,” Viebrock said, adding that Walter helped find the brick-laying experts who could complete the exacting and very visible job. The floor of the upstairs deck becomes the ceiling of a portion of the patio, another mid-construction change initiated by the Viebrocks. “We had to change the upstairs deck floor to become waterproof, because we wanted to add beadboard to the ceiling underneath,” Viebrock said. The adjustment was completed and looks as if it was originally planned that way.
Views go both ways. To the left is an outdoor shower, and a raised bar is perfectly positioned to look out toward the water. “I call this the catbird seat,” Viebrock laughed. Down on the dock, facing back toward the house, the scope of the home is apparent. “I think this is my favorite view,” he shared.
While their children are spread out, with one in Hawaii and the other in Savannah, and five grandchildren, including a brand new baby, everyone loves visiting. Family photographs line the stairs, although a new one will be required to update the third generation and images of children at play on the lake will undoubtedly be added with each passing summer.
It’s difficult for the Viebrocks to choose an absolute favorite element in their home, but has no trouble identifying his choice. “The final exterior design and color choices make this house stand out, especially with the way the lake views are so prominent,” he said.
And although the Viebrocks have settled in – he plays golf at Timberlake Country Club three times a week and she has recently joined the Chapin Women’s Club – the days of travel (especially to Hawaii) aren’t over. The difference is that now, homecoming is always especially sweet and welcome.
Builder: Magnolia Custom Homes of SC, 803-490-7895, magnoliacustomhomesofsc.com