A family getaway sleeps 32 people in comfort and style
Cindy Burell has deep roots on Lake Martin’s Madwin Creek in Jacksons Gap. She grew up coming to her family’s rented cabin, playing with her cousins, camping out when the cabin sleeping spaces were full, swimming and bathing in the lake. Making memories continued for her children when her parents bought a home – still on Madwin but a few sloughs away from the original cabin. In 2001, Burell and her husband Dennis jumped at the opportunity to buy the house right next door to her parents’ lake home.
“My memories of the lake are of everybody being there together and always having fun. I wanted my grandkids to have that, too, in the area we call a hidden treasure on the lake,” Burell said.
Several years later, the Birmingham couple decided to build a lake house that could accommodate visits from their seven grown children, their children’s spouses and their nine grandchildren. Burell said they did not want to miss a summer at the lake during the building process, so they felt lucky to find Roger Self with NJT Construction in Birmingham who could demolish the old house right after Labor Day and be ready for the family to move into the new house right before Memorial Day in 2014.
With the help of her son, Birmingham architect Tyler Johnson, Burell used her knowledge from years of visiting the lake and making do with limited space to design a 10-bedroom home to sleep 32 people. Family and friends jokingly dubbed the 6,000-square foot house “Hotel Burell.”
“I grew up coming to our small cabin. Life there was always easy, and I didn’t want this bigger house to be any different. We went for open, lots of character, lots of light and stress-free,” Burell said.
She set the tone from the very beginning with a stone walk that leads guests through landscaped beds to the front door. Johnson designed the entryway so guests would face a shiplap wall in the foyer and anticipate the view of the lake just around the corner through the two-story windows. A half-bath features a white marble countertop, a seafoam green glass sink and the same soft color on the walls.
The Burells selected dark stained hand-scraped hardwood floors for all of the living areas. The walls are sheetrock, painted a creamy white, with whitewashed shiplap strategically placed on two walls to camouflage shiplap doors and on another wall to balance a stacked-stone fireplace. A 26-foot long stone hearth provides a great casual seating area, as well as a place for memorabilia, pillows and lake décor.
Self-supporting Western Red cedar beams stained in walnut span the 28-foot vaulted ceiling in the main living space. Designer Melinda Hedrick helped the couple with flooring, lighting fixtures and other décor decisions. Upstairs, a loft overlooks the living area and provides space for a game table and an additional sitting area.
The dining table, which comfortably seats 16, was designed by Johnson and Blake Burell, a designer in Nashville, and custom built with a walnut top and an inlaid cherry herringbone pattern down its length. Cubbies and electrical outlets are hidden beneath the table’s edge directly in front of each chair to allow quick and efficient storage of electronic games or computers when the table is needed for dining or other activities. The light fixtures, each 4 feet long with four large Edison bulbs, hang on heavy chains attached to an overhead beam.
The kitchen was designed to accommodate Burell’s need for a cooking area that was separate from a space in which to prepare drinks and coffee. To that end, the home includes two refrigerators – one for the Burells and one in which guests could bring and store food. There are two dishwashers to accommodate a crowd, and there are two sinks.
The large island offers cabinet storage and an area for family and friends to congregate as well. A table with four chairs and banquette seating for the grandchildren to sit all together on one bench were essential for gathering in the kitchen.
The gray painted kitchen cabinets complement darker gray quartz countertops and wavy glass tiles in blue and gray in the backsplash. For the island, the couple selected a single slab of granite with blue, gray and brown veins that reminded them of a map of Lake Martin.
Also on the main level, the large laundry room includes a wall of shelves for the extra groceries and supplies that guests might bring. The homeowners added an industrial icemaker in the garage, as well as stairs leading to a basement storm shelter.
The master bedroom on the main level has access to a screened porch that connects to the covered porch on the lake side of the home. Burell used frosted glass in French doors for the entrance from the bedroom to the bath to create a spa-feel. Carrera marble, glass tile inserts and a window in the shower exemplify the clean, fresh environment she wanted for the master suite.
The shiplap wall off to the side in the living area camouflages a door into another wing of the home. The wing has two bedrooms and a bunkroom and can be opened up when there are guests in the house. Cabinets are built into the bedrooms, as are eight built-in beds with ship’s ladder access to the top bunks. One bath in each wing is reserved for the adults. Another bath accommodates the children and is outfitted with a chalkboard towel rack, so each grandchild can write his or her name over the appropriate towel peg.
The entire downstairs hidden wing is exactly mirrored upstairs. The same whitewashed shiplap hides the door, concealing two bedrooms, two baths and a bunkroom for eight. While blue linens are used in the downstairs bunkroom for boys, the upstairs bunk linens are pastel for the girls. Across from each bunkroom is a large toy closet.
The Burells have three additional bedrooms upstairs, one of which is a second master suite. Over the garage, Dennis has designated an area in which no unaccompanied grandchildren are allowed. Here, he can relax in comfortable furniture, watch television and shoot pool.
The backyard and lake are straight out the back door, and Burell has thought of everything her guests might need going out or coming in; even towels in a basket near the door are rolled and ready for the next swimmer. Hooks just outside are ready to hang wet towels.
The back porch is constructed with a recycled product to prevent splinters on young children’s tender feet, and a high tongue-and-groove ceiling shades family gatherings. Because the ceiling is too high for fans, Hendrick found oscillating fans mounted on the walls over the sconces. Sidewalks lead to double docks, a gazebo and a patio with a fireplace, a grill and seating situated at the edge of the seawall.
The Burells’ view reminds Burell of her own joyous sun-kissed childhood on Lake Martin. With the building of their new home, this couple is providing a place for new memories to be made on Madwin Creek.