Birmingham couple Amy and Tom Lewis have called Lake Martin their second home for 16 years. After previously owning three other homes on the lake, they dreamed of building a house they designed, so when they found a lot in Kennebec on the east central side of the lake, the couple couldn’t wait to begin construction on their fourth and final lake house.
“Over 16 years, we kept growing out of our houses. We had three weddings in one year. Then we had three babies in one year. I used to dream about what it would be like to design my own home, and here we are. This is ours,” Amy Lewis said.
The Lewises hired Birmingham architect Gary Justiss to design their home from the ground up, literally. In fact, Justiss walked the lot with them, and Lewis told him what she envisioned.
“I could see the house spread out on the lot. We knew we wanted most of the house to be one level. I wanted white walls, beams and tall ceilings. And we wanted a boathouse, which is one reason we chose Kennebec. I looked constantly at Houzz online and had pictures of exactly the look I wanted,” she said.
The Lewises selected Henderson and Coker in Alexander City to build their 4,300-square-foot home, and Lewis credits both Justiss and Scott Henderson, as well as trim carpenter Barney Mims, with making their dream a reality. Four Seasons in Wetumpka designed and installed natural, low maintenance landscaping with no grass to maintain. Hydrangea, lantana and native ferns, among other flora, along with flagstone pathways, fit the wooded lot perfectly.
The five-bedroom, five-and-one-half bath home includes shiplap siding with a stone apron and columns. A glass entryway with floor-to-ceiling windows directly across from the front door invites guests to an amazing view of the lake and connects two wings of the home. To the right, spacious kitchen, dining and living areas extend the length of the wing with the master suite at the end. To the left, a guest room and bath and the laundry and powder rooms are accessible. Three bedrooms and baths are upstairs.
The Lewises chose wide-plank, white oak floors. With the exception of only a few feet of wall, the floor-to-ceiling windows on the lakeside of the house offer spectacular sunrise views from the main level rooms and the porches. Reclaimed beams from an 1850s firehouse were purchased from Atlantic Reclaimed Lumber in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and used on the ceiling throughout the main level. Head jambs above every door are boards cut from the beams.
The cabinets in the kitchen, white oak in a sleek, modern style, were custom made by Curtis and Jared Wellborn at Wellborn Forest Products in Alexander City. Three large glass pendants, purchased from Houzz, hang above the 5-1/2-foot-by-10-foot island. The countertops and backsplash are white Cambria quartz with gray veins. A navy blue Big Chill Classic range with brass hardware is definitely a focal point for the kitchen. Storage was key to the Lewises, and the Wellborns provided large cabinets under the island to maximize space.
The exquisite, custom dining table was made by Alabama Sawyer, a furniture manufacturing company in Birmingham. The Lewises selected a slab of mineralized poplar for the special piece. One of their sons-in-law had a hand in the design and building of the table, which makes it even more special. The base was poured at Birmingham’s Sloss Furnace.
The walls flanking the dining table include a built-in buffet for storage and serving on one side. On the other side, a coffee bar is ready for hospitality with cabinets below and shelving above on an accent wall of dark, wood-look tile.
Decorative trusses built with the reclaimed beams add a dramatic effect to the living area. To maximize the view, the Lewises selected low profile furniture from Scandinavian Design and Leather Gallery in Birmingham. The long sofa features head rests that lift up at the touch of a button to provide maximum comfort while reclining; yet, the back remains low when not in use. The handcrafted cypress coffee table is a Buford West by L.A. Knight, purchased at Art on the Lake at Children’s Harbor. Chairs and accent tables complete the cozy setting in front of the stone fireplace and hearth, which is 12 feet in length and features a reclaimed beam mantle.
Through sliding doors in the living area, a large covered porch, furnished with Summer Classics teak cushioned sofas, offers a perfect outdoor entertaining space. Screening Solutions in Birmingham installed power screens that can be automatically lowered when needed to screen the porch. The bluestone flooring wraps around the lakeside of the house, a prime location for rocking chairs, and down to a fire pit near the water’s edge. On the side porch near the kitchen, cobalt blue tile accents the grilling area.
The master suite is located just off the living room and showcases the reclaimed beams arranged in a decorative pattern on the ceiling while calming, neutral colors adorn the room. Lewis selected black tile to use over the double vanity with brass sconces and brass-framed mirrors, creating an elegant environment. A glass shower, approximately 6 feet by 6 feet with duel showerheads, is tiled in white and gray while the vanity top is white Cambria quartz.
Tile in the bathrooms was an area where Lewis expressed bold style. Besides the black in the master, she selected unique patterns and shapes in a blue palette for guest bathrooms. Tile was supplied by ProSource in Pelham and installed by Auburn Tile. Countertops in the guest baths are white Cambria quartz.
Lewis’ home reflects her love for small animals in her framed needlepoint, pillows and paintings of rabbits, fawns, birds and foxes. The whimsical wallpaper highlights little squirrels with acorns and falling leaves. The vanity was built from two tree slabs with the bark, found at their Tennessee source, for both the bowl sink on top and the shelf underneath. In the powder room, and in the other bathrooms, Lewis used subway tile on the walls from the floor-to-chair rail height. Just outside the powder room, Henderson recessed an area in the wall to add oak beams for shelving.
The laundry room cabinets and doorframes are painted a cheerful green, and the tiled floor allows the room to serve as a mudroom for entrance from the boathouse and beach just outside the door. The two-story boathouse, built by Sunrise Docks, has a shaded dock space, two slips and a floating dock, plus a large room upstairs for storage or camping out. A gate on the upstairs railing opens to provide a high perch for jumping into the water.
A guest room and bath are on the main level, along with two more suites upstairs – all with king-sized beds. Tom ordered paddles to serve as handrails. Again, Lewis added flair to rooms with an accent wall of blue in one room and a blue ceiling in another room. The fifth bedroom has a comfortable Lovesac modular sectional sofa and a 70-inch television for the six grandchildren. Built-in bunkbeds have queen-sized beds on bottom and twin-sized on top.
“We call this room the bunkhouse. I know how hard those bunkbeds are to make up, so they have fitted sheets only. I chose different flannel patterns for each of the kids to have a special blanket; then, got pillowcases with each child’s name. The bunkbeds have trundles for storage or bedding, and the sectional can be moved into different shapes for more sleeping space,” Lewis said.
Lewis has filled her home with the things she loves – her mother’s needlepoint that has been in every home they have had on the lake, a child-sized chair that belonged to Tom’s mother, photos of family and décor that reminds her of good times on Lake Martin.
“Tom said when he goes through our house he sees me everywhere. That makes me happy. We plan to spend our weekdays at the lake and our weekends in Birmingham for activities with the grandchildren. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here,” she said.
The Lewises plan to spend carefree lake days for years to come, hosting family and friends, making memories in a new home where there is still room to grow.