The Neighborhood Vacation Spot
With Lake Murray as focal point, this extended family has plenty of space to call their own, as well as ample entertaining room for friends and family.
By Melissa Sprouse Browne Photographs by Jay Browne
You hear a lot about lake living in Columbia. The attraction is clear – dozens of recreation options, right in your backyard, along with the beauty and peace of a water view. The pull of a laid back lifestyle brought the Greene family from downtown Columbia to their very own piece of paradise.
Finding a way to make the best use of the lake lot was an exciting challenge for A.C. and her husband, Darren. With a house of five, including A.C., Darren, their two boys and her mom Carolyn, they needed plenty of room and a way to take advantage of all Lake Murray has to offer a growing family.
Dick Gallup of Gallup and Gallup was chosen as the Greenes’ building partner. “He was building a house in Kings Grant that I liked and that’s how I found him,” said A.C. “I got several different estimates and his pricing was better. My friend who was using him for the Kings Grant house said it’d be a huge difference from the others and she was right.” A.C. felt his manner was very accommodating and he was easy to work with throughout the entire project. “He tries to meet your requests, but if he thinks something’s a bad idea, he’ll tell you why. He had a lot of really good ideas for this home and his design-build formula worked great for us.”
Gallup and Gallup is a design-build firm that uses their own Custom Build System “to insure construction, cost management, selections, decorating and completion activities are delivered in such a manner as to provide a positive and rewarding custom building experience.” With more than 25 years of experience in the real estate construction business, Dick had the knowledge and expertise to turn a lake lot into a personal resort, enjoyed by the homeowners, their friends and extended family.
“Dick and I went back and forth about a plan. I said, ‘I want you to draw what you think needs to go on that lot,’ and this is the house that he drew. He did a great job,” said A.C. They originally envisioned a single story with two master suites, but the footprint of the land wouldn’t fit a sprawling structure. “Another reason we went with a second story – it was half the price to build. Dick told us we thought we wanted a one-story house, but you don’t want to pay for a one-story roof for that much square footage. My house in Kings Grant was three thousand square feet, but felt like maybe just two thousand because of the floor plan. This house feels so much bigger,” she said.
With the lake as a focal point, the outdoor features of the home are used frequently for entertaining and relaxation. The dock on the right side of the property in no way impedes the long view of open water from the main house. “The children really love it up here, the oldest loves to go fishing in our boat,” said Carolyn Brown, A.C.’s mother. The family can take off for adventure, right from their private dock in a protected cove.
For more fun close to home, the saltwater pool provides hours of playtime for everyone. Designed by Creative Stone, the whirlpool spills out onto a custom built lily pad in the main pool, where the Greenes have a set of chairs and an umbrella for shade. “It’s a great place for the kids to sit or for me to hang out and watch them splash around. I don’t get in the lake, so I like being able to get in the pool,” A.C. explained. “We have a heater for the whirlpool portion, but you can also heat the entire pool, which we’ve done for a fall birthday party for the kids.”
To feed the masses, the outdoor kitchen is ready for a workout. “I feel like we’re not the only people who live here,” A.C. said. “I jokingly told my husband that if this is a hotel, does that mean I don’t have to do any work? We both laughed, because it seems like every weekend, we have company over. It’s just constant.” The griddle and gas stove cooktop combination is where the family likes to grill. The outdoor cooking center is replete with a sink, cold storage, granite countertop and terrific lake views.
The screened porch was planned as a seasonal extension of the living space. The family hangs out there, watching television. Its main purpose, though, is to serve as a Gamecock haven. It’s very used space and the addition of the gas stacked stone fireplace gives the family more time during the year to be comfortable outside. If USC is playing, the game will be watched on the screened porch. “My husband played for Carolina, so he’s devoted to Gamecock sports. Now it’s too far to drive and we stay home and watch it right here with loads of company,” A.C. said.
The three-car garage opens on both sides; a true multi-function space, the breeze off the water makes it a great place to have the kids play when it’s raining. It’s close to the rest of the outdoor living features and is a natural extension of the play area.
Rounding out the exterior amenities is the half bath. “My favorite feature of the entire house is the outdoor bathroom,” said A.C.. “It’s a small half bath, and keeps people from having to track in and out of the house if they’ve been in the pool or out on the lake. We have friends stop by on their boats, and this bathroom is so convenient. The floor is ceramic tile, and is easy to clean.”
Once you go inside, the Greenes’ home is open and spacious, with prime lake views from virtually every room. With two complete master suites, one on each level, there’s a lot to see in this custom home.
A.C. credits Kenny Bennett with the kitchen design. “He designed and custom made all the cabinetry,” she said. His design incorporated pull out spice racks beside the stove and a smooth look throughout.
The star of the downstairs show is the master suite, of course. Mom Carolyn has a complete and private flat, all her own. “We don’t need pictures on the walls, our paintings are found right outside the window with the beautiful view of the lake,” said Carolyn. Her inspiration from nature’s finest is plentiful; she positions her canvas and easel near the enormous window in her bedroom and paints a variety of scenes. Carolyn started painting when she worked for the Department of Mental Health several years ago. Her current work includes pieces intended for the walls of the Greenes’ home.
Next in the suite layout is the full bath, with a no barrier shower and cultured marble double vanity. “I don’t like shower doors,” shared A.C. “Plus, I wanted Dick to build things handicapped-accessible, just in case. All the doorways are wider than usual. The shower is unique, and has a ninety degree turn from the entryway into the actual shower area.
Just beyond the bath is the ultimate closet. Row after row of racks, supplemented with plenty of cubbies, this closet at a future date would be usable as a shared master closet with space for both husband and wife. But for now, it’s one woman’s organized dream. Looking at the enormity of it all, A.C. comments, “We just call this Belk’s. We go shopping in her closet.”
On the other side of her suite is the private mini-kitchen and office, with a wall of cabinetry, refrigerator, microwave, sink and coffee maker. “I like the lighting in here,” Carolyn said. For some of her decorative touches, she saw things she loved in magazines and found close matches locally, at crafty stores like Hobby Lobby.
Carolyn also has her own laundry room downstairs, with a stacked washer and dryer setup. The family finds it convenient to use this laundry room for the pool towels, instead of lugging them all upstairs and back again. Still thinking towards the future, the elevated appliances make it easier to perform mundane tasks like laundry without putting extra pressure on your back from stooping.
Guests will notice the rich colors in this home’s palette are soothing, bringing a natural sense of peace. Even in the downstairs half bath, the dark mocha ceiling and the steel blue are neutral contrasts. “I didn’t want anything white in the whole house,” said A.C. “The outside trim is tan, not white. It made the exterior color green look so different with the tan than it did with the white trim, so that’s the way we went.”
This home was originally designed to be a traditional two story, with a cathedral ceiling foyer and living room. Instead, they chose to close it off and create a playroom. “The surprise was the perfect view we found from this new space. It was funny, because the whole time, I wanted a one story house and when they were building, I walked up to the top of these stairs and said, oh my, that’s the best view!” said A.C.
In the upstairs master, there’s a bank of windows overlooking the lake. It’s a peaceful sight in the mornings. They’re dressed with custom made shades made of natural grasses and reeds. “We hardly ever put them down,” she said, acknowledging the view is the best part of the room.
The light fixture in this master suite is unusual, to say the least. It’s a linen covered dimmable fixture with a fan integrated in the middle. “It puts off so much air. My husband likes to wake up to the light. But, when I sleep in here with the kids, we’ll put the blinds down and with that breeze and sound, we’ll sleep till ten,” A.C. said. The light came from Lowe’s, as a part of their online store. “Everybody that comes in the house wants that light. It’s very cool,” agreed Carolyn.
A.C. feels the his and hers closet in this house holds more than their previous home. “It really is this design that works better. Even though it’s technically smaller than what I had, it just holds so much more.”
The two upstairs bedrooms for the boys are great spaces. One bedroom faces the lake and the other is fully outfitted in Gamecock gear, complete with a Fathead of Marcus Lattimore and a collection of year-round nutcrackers. What made the boys’ space so usable was the reclamation of a portion of the attic space. They were able to give the game room more space and the bedroom also benefitted from a better closet.
The boys share the upstairs bath. The shower is the same open design as the others in the home, but they do have a shower curtain here because they’re boys. The flooring in the boys’ bath is tile, but doesn’t look like tile at all. The river rock flooring in the shower was chosen by the boys because it felt cool on their feet.
The upstairs laundry is quite large and gives everyone a space to hang and fold. Because the floor below is the foyer with a high ceiling, a portion of the laundry room floor had to bump up, creating a ledge. They used the bump to place the washer and dryer at a better height and integrated a folding table on the same wall. The task oriented lighting over the folding table is a big help, too.
The workout room is a fitness sanctuary. A.C. loves it and it’s the most used space, which was really an afterthought. This bathroom is the only one with a bathtub, “so I can wash my grandbabies one day,” she hopes.
They gym has soft tiles on the floor and the color scheme of blues, greys and browns is continued even here. Her brother suggested a design change in this room to add a matching dormer, which opened up the space. “The kids practice wrestling in here and we also use this as a place to sleep. There’s a pull out sofa and a place to put extra kids when they come over,” A.C. said.
After living here almost a year, the only thing the family would change is the height of the crawl space. They requested it be low initially because they didn’t want railings outside. But, once everything was built and leveled, railings were needed anyway. “I really love the way it came out. I like the way Dick put it on the lot so there’s a really good view from every room,” said A.C.