Text: Margaret Zainey Roux
Photos: Kerry Kirk
Once upon a time, Rod McSweeney happened upon a rare empty lot while fishing on Lake Logan Martin. Situated on a private peninsula, it was untouched and overgrown, but its raw beauty and potential captivated the Trussville resident and his wife, Robin. The couple, who was approaching retirement at the time, dreamt of spending their next chapter surrounded by the tranquil waters and joyous laughter of their children and grandchildren, and vowed that that very spot is where their dream would come true. It took several months to convince the landowner to sell and two years to design and build, but both Rod and Robin agree that their legacy home was worth waiting for.
“During our initial meeting, the McSweeneys described the home as having a ‘storybook’ look,” says Chris Reebals, architect and principal of Birmingham-based Christopher Architects and Interiors. “That notion stuck with us and inspired us throughout the process. There are historical themes and modern components throughout the design, but they weren’t driving forces or defining factors for the home’s architectural style. It was a storybook look and feel that guided our hands artistically as we selected the materials, shapes, and details that make this home so magical.”
Featuring towers, archways, and a cupola, the 7,500-square-foot-plus structure is comprised of hardy cypress and hand-selected stone quarried from the base of the Appalachian Mountains in North Alabama. Under the close watch of Reebals and Neill, a team of masons hand-chiseled the stone to replicate the perfect imperfections of time and washed the surface with a custom-mixed mortar to forge an instant patina. Despite the painstaking and elaborate finishing process, the estate’s understated elegance honors the idyllic setting rather than overshadowing it.
Leveraging her keen eye for detail, interior designer Joanna Goodman connected the interior design and décor to the exterior architecture by using similar materials that vary in color, texture, and form. Inside, smooth soapstone countertops and limestone fireplaces and heavy metal accents made of steel, iron, and zinc relate to exterior elements without repeating them.
“With such a strong architectural framework, we needed to introduce lighter colors and breezy textures to create balance,” says Goodman. “Sofas and chairs dressed in high-performance linen in shades of white, gray, and taupe are soft on the eye and to the touch. Accents in earthy hues pulled directly from the landscape offer a hint of color without straying too far from the neutral palette. The layering of these tones and textures, coupled with overscale lighting and a few handsome antiques, keeps rooms cozy despite their expansive footprint and soaring ceilings. Together, they give the home its genuine lake house vibe.”