Clay and Nancy Hornsby bought their cabin in Eclectic based on Clay’s years of experience playing on the beach next door. His grandparents owned the 1960s cabin he grew up loving, and they actually did the work themselves to cultivate the beach that holds so many memories. When Clay found out that half the beach actually belonged to the lot next door, he was on a mission to buy it, and in 2012, the dream became reality.

“When the lot was finally ours, and we walked into the cabin, we realized the view was something special. We kept the little cabin until we began building a new house in 2018, and we moved in full-time into the new house in 2019. We had a long time to plan all that we wanted in a lake house, and we really did manage to work in all the ideas we had,” Nancy Hornsby said. 

The Hornsbys hired David Smelcer Design and Construction to design their home and Henderson-Coker to build it. Denise Booth was their project manager, and Hornsby is grateful to her for guidance throughout the building process. Decorators Jeannette Remaley, Jamie Dark and Jeffrey Long assisted Hornsby with fabrics, furniture, artwork, rugs, paint colors and other details. 

“We both have family on the lake, and we knew the importance of living spaces, indoor and out. We knew we wanted lots of outdoor living and for the rooms to easily flow outside. We love our porches. We also wanted views of the lake from everywhere possible. David designed the house exactly the way we wanted it, concentrating more space in the rooms where people gather and having smaller bedrooms,” Hornsby said.

An elegant stone front porch and porte-cochere greet visitors. Shiplap walls, painted Gray Mist, set the stage for the main living areas and the stairwell. The floors are a lightly stained white oak, while the ceiling is unstained white oak, creating a subtle contrast. 

In the foyer, a display of antique transferware china in a large yellow cabinet with a hutch – old wood made new, she commented – begins Hornsby’s use of yellow, her favorite color, as an accent in the main living areas. The foyer leads to the vaulted living room and a spectacular view of the lake through an arched window. A neutral upholstered sofa and four club chairs allow yellow patterned ottomans and pillows and pops of blue in the lamps and rug to complete the picture. French doors frame the stone fireplace – one set leading outside and the other into a study. In the connected dining area, chair cushions match the pillow fabric to carry the color through the rooms. 

“I really believe rugs should be taken from home to home and be forever purchases. I bought the rug in the living room in 2002 for our home in Birmingham; then, it was in our home in Tuscaloosa. Here, it set the color scheme for the whole room,” Hornsby said.  

The Hornsbys also have forever purchases in artwork, featuring local art from Sarah Carlisle Towery and Lila Graves. Years ago, Graves painted portraits of the Hornsbys’ children, and those portraits now hang in the foyer. Graves’ “Happy Coffee Cup,” among other bright pieces, adds color and whimsy to the kitchen and hallways. Among Hornsby’s favorites – her first Graves purchase, which depicts children playing marbles, and a larger Graves piece entitled “Things with Wings” in the stairwell. Their nephew, Will Azar, an engineer and painter, has one of his paintings featured in the upstairs hall.

The Hornsbys’ spacious kitchen, perfect for entertaining a crowd, centers on a White Haze quartzite island, 9-feet by 6-feet, which contains the gas stove to make buffet style serving easier. The butler’s pantry houses a microwave, a sink, and a designated coffee area. The pantry shelves were organized and labeled for ease and effectiveness by Yellow Cottage Living. Cabinets, custom-made by Roger Hyde, are painted Designer White and feature glass doors and lights in one wall of upper cabinets for displaying her antique china and other special pieces. Custom panels create a seamless look between cabinets and the appliances. 

Just off the kitchen, a hallway serves as a mudroom and just one of many exits to the Hornsbys’ nostalgic beach area. The hall contains a half-bath, cubbies for collecting towels and shoes and the laundry room, secluded behind a barn door.  

An expansive screened porch offers a seating area and dining area with room to spare. Furniture is from Summer Classics. A grill porch is just beyond one screen door with easy access to the kitchen inside and the diners outside. Three fans keep the lake breezes moving in the summer to provide a pleasant place to relax.

A covered flagstone porch just off the living area includes additional seating and dining space. Wide stairs lead to a patio and on down to the lawn and dock. Lighted flagstone paths, created by R and R Landscaping, lead to the water from different entrances in the back of the home. R and R Landscaping designed and installed the landscape.

The home features five bedrooms and five and one-half baths. Downstairs, a guest room located just off the foyer offers a private bath. Soft navy and cream linens create a welcoming and comfortable space for guests. The master bedroom, appointed in creams and grays and accented with yellow, provides a respite for the couple. Hornsby attributes her well-organized walk-in closet to Yellow Cottage Living. Three additional bedrooms are upstairs, accessed via a back staircase behind the kitchen. 

“This is our forever home, so I decided to have specific bedrooms assigned to our two grown children. I had bookcases built-in around their beds, including the side tables, so I could display some of their special items from childhood. We call the bedroom built over the garage our sleeping porch,” Hornsby said.

The sleeping porch features the only television in the house, a play area for grandchildren and built-in beds to sleep eight. Tierce Williams with Gray Barn Cabinets, built-in full-sized beds with bookcases on either end in both wings with dormer windows. Large drawers under the beds provide storage space. Behind a barn door at the end of the room, two sets of bunk beds with storage underneath were built in.  

A cream and navy bedroom contains memorabilia from their son’s childhood, and a bedroom with different shades of pink contains their daughter’s keepsakes. Both have lake views and private baths. The walk-in closet in the pink room provides access to what would have been attic storage space.

“We had the storage space finished just like the rest of the house. It has a small room just off the closet, but the room beyond it could be another rec room. Having that space already finished really allows us room to grow as the family grows,” Hornsby said. 

Creating the vision of their house based on experiences visiting and growing up on the lake allowed the Hornsbys to plan the details of their forever home carefully. Now living in the home they envisioned next door to his grandparents’ cabin, they are continuing the traditions of year-round fun with family and friends on Lake Martin – with two family lots joined by one special beach.