Text: Lydia Somerville
Photos: Jean Allsopp
Styling: Eleanor Lynn Nesmith
When Margie and Barry Boan bought the 1970s house on the shore of Lake Martin, they envisioned it as a refuge for their family and friends. But first, they had to exorcize the design demons that kept it locked in ’80s limbo. Heavy, dark woodwork and Spanish tile floors established the dated vibe, with granite counters and swagged damask draperies adding the final flourish.
They enlisted the design group Defining Home to give it a complete makeover. Changes included raising ceilings to 10 feet, moving and enlarging the kitchen, tearing down the garage and replacing it with a two-story guest suite and playroom, and installing an infinity pool overlooking the lake. “When we got it down to the studs, we stopped and considered just tearing it down, but the clients wanted a big one-level house with separate spaces for children and adults, and that is what our drawn plans gave them,” says Tom Adams, whose designs for second homes have become ubiquitous at Alabama’s beautiful lakes.
Oddly, the original house turned its back on the lake. “There were lots of views of the driveway,” recalls Logan Thornton, who worked as project manager on the architectural makeover. The architecture team moved hallways to the side of the house facing the lake, keeping the landscape in view as one moves through the house. “When you enter the front door of a lake house, the first thing you should see is the lake,” says Adams. That view is now framed by new double doors that eliminated a dated truss design and raised the fireplace up to a newly raised ceiling. The large room offers sight lines to the screened porch, the bedroom wing, and the den. It also connects to the kitchen, making it the true heart of the house.
Marie Noojin of Defining Home’s interior design team spearheaded the light and fresh new look. “Margie loves fabrics and drapery, so we were able to work a lot of blue and green to reflect the lakeside setting,” says Noojin. “The great room in the old house was a vast space with the furniture all grouped together. It seemed dwarfed by the space. We spread it out into two groups and let it breathe. The layered rugs add warmth.”
In the formerly small and dark kitchen, the team brightened things up with white oak cabinetry and floors, adding pecky cypress inserts on the built-in cabinets for another natural texture. Bench barstools have a substantial presence at the long island. A former man cave trophy room was transformed by the team into a sophisticated lounge with a pool table, comfortable sectional, and walls paneled in pecky cypress. It’s a warm, tailored room accented with a light touch. The wet bar in the lounge is richly elegant, with a pressed zinc countertop and stamped metal sink.
The team also achieved a major transformation on the outside, breaking up the large expanse of lawn leading to the lake. “We broke up the mass with layers of terraces and the infinity pool, which sits above the lake but seems to merge into it,” says Thornton. With guests on ledge loungers floating in the shallow water and groups gathered on the screened porch, the lake finally gets the attention it deserves.