Lake House Luxe by Kathryn Greeley

Designer Kathryn Greeley and her husband, Wells, took on the renovation of an inherited house on North Carolina's Lake Chatuge, keeping family and tradition at front of mind.

Greeley converted an enormous game room on the lower level into two guest rooms and a bath. The designer collected antiques and furniture for the house over 20 years, lending the renovated rooms a sense of permanence.

Text: Lydia Somerville
Photography: Emily Followill

A self-described incurable collector, interior designer Kathryn Greeley (@kathryn_greeley) was fully prepared when she and husband Wells embarked on the transformation of the lake house they inherited from his parents.

Lake House Luxe

Perched on Lake Chatuge in North Carolina, Kathryn Greeley’s lake house enjoys spectacular views of the forested shore, water, and sky.

Lake House Luxe

An outdoor dining area capitalizes on a particularly splendid aspect.

Lake House Luxe


A portrait of a Scottish gentleman presides over the living room. “I saw a similar painting in a bar in England and had a local artist recreate it,” says Greeley. A plaid by Ralph Lauren gives the room a cozy vibe and echoes the portrait’s flowing textiles.

Lake House Luxe

Greeley gutted the ’70s kitchen, removed a wall, and added a beam to accommodate modern conveniences. 

Lake House Luxe

A collection of tole trays hangs in the upper hall.

Lake House Luxe


A Lee Jofa wallpaper in the powder room incorporates the blue and green of Greeley’s palette.

Lake House Luxe

Greeley converted an enormous game room on the lower level into two guest rooms and a bath. The designer collected antiques and furniture for the house over 20 years, lending the renovated rooms a sense of permanence.

Lake House Luxe


The secretary holds her collection of Wedgwood jasperware and English creamware. Greeley’s Westie, Duncan MacDuff, keeps watch from the ottoman.

Over the years, they enjoyed its rustic appeal as a gathering spot for generations of family, but they saw great potential for a redo. “The house was built in the 1970s,” says Greeley. “It wasn’t much changed, but it had good bones and a stellar view. We decided to do a major renovation, both inside and out, which, luckily, we finished right before the pandemic.”

The three-level house held an enormous game room on the bottom level; the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen on the second floor; and more bedrooms on the upper level. Greeley designed an addition for a large master bath and closet on the main level and converted the master bath into a powder room.

The old carport became the new dining room. The kitchen, in all its 1970s glory, was gutted to the studs to install the kind of working kitchen modern culture demands. Upstairs, two small bedrooms and a bath became a large second master suite. And downstairs, the large game room became a pair of cozy guest rooms.

With views of the lake and woods such a strong aspect of the house, Greeley took inspiration from their hues for her palette. “I took the blues and greens of the scenery, which also happen to be my favorite color combination, to connect the interiors to the surroundings,” she says. Throughout the house, timeless fabrics from legacy lines such as Colefax and Fowler and Lee Jofa lend a sense of permanence. The master bedroom is upholstered, walls included, in Colefax and Fowler’s iconic Bowood. The living room’s tartan upholstery is a classic Ralph Lauren design. “You don’t see those much anymore,” says Greeley. A notable painting of a Scottish gentleman hangs over the living room mantel, his tartans reflecting the room’s textiles. Greeley had admired a similar painting in a bar in Scotland and had a local artist in Raleigh recreate it for the lake house.

Over the years, Greeley had bought antiques for the lake house, shopping everywhere from Palm Beach to Boston, including many North Carolina sources in High Point and Cashiers. Her store in Hayesville, Molly & Me, provided an outlet for extras. It is, however, her collections that give the house a strong English point of view. Majolica, blue-and-white porcelain, creamware, jasperware, and tole trays all have places of prominence in the design. “Everywhere I travel, I find pieces to add to my collections,” she says.

With three levels of outdoor space to consider, Greeley replaced the old decking with Brazilian walnut and added new railings and the stone pillars that ground the structure on the lakefront. She set about creating multiple areas for gathering both in large groups for dinners and cocktails and for coffee à deux on a quiet morning. “Our favorite spot is the small deck outside our bedroom,” says Greeley. “In the afternoon, Wells loves to have a drink at the bar table, put his feet up on the railing, and just enjoy the view.” The Greeleys’ reborn lake house is designed for enjoying every little moment, for years to come.