After years of visiting friends on Lake Martin, Atlanta couple John and Chris Hutcheson stumbled upon the house with the perfect flat lot and a wrap-around porch in the Longleaf area of the lake.
“We were not neccessarily looking for a house, but when we pulled into this quiet cove, we knew it was everything we could wish for in a lake house. John and I have spent most of our quarantine time here this year, and it has tempted us to become city quitters and move to the lake full-time. We love being here during the week when it is so quiet,” Chris Hutcheson said.
The five-bedroom home was built in 1998 by Bill Hamm, former mayor of Auburn, as a personal lake home. The Hutchesons purchased the home in 2017 and lived in it for a few years with only minor changes until they knew exactly how they wanted to live and the exact updates they wanted to make. Updating the interior design from 1998 to 2017 required cosmetic changes and a new kitchen.
The floors throughout the home, reclaimed heart pine from the old Sears building in Chicago, were the priority to keep intact. Also, the same wood had been milled and used for tongue-and-groove ceilings throughout the home. The mantel over the fireplace was taken from the old Pony Express stop in Dadeville. With the floors, ceilings and mantel as the starting points, changes to the home began.
An interior designer by trade, Hutcheson couldn’t wait to tackle the job. She designed the kitchen and hired Will Kinnebrew of Williams Ryan Building in Jackson’s Gap for the work to begin in the fall of 2019. Brad Knotts of Knotts Detailing did additional contracting and handyman work for the couple.
One wall of the white kitchen is now storage with a built-in refrigerator. The new 10-foot by 4-foot island contains only the range and a drawer microwave, leaving plenty of room for entertaining. Hutcheson selected white quartz with a gray vein for the countertops and backsplash, creating a sleek, clean look. Both the drawer and cabinet pulls are retooled vintage brass from England. Leather pulls, softening with more patina after each use, were selected for the island. The 12-foot woven rug down the center of the kitchen was purchased from Australia.
“I used Ivory Lace by Sherwin Williams to paint the walls and a few of the ceilings for contrast. We just changed sheens for particular walls and trim to create a bit of contrast. We wanted simplicity. Comfort and simplicity were our goals. Nothing complicated or overdone,” Hutcheson said.
The house is a collection of favorite things the couple has discovered on their travels together and also from sourcing trips for Hutcheson’s former online home-and-lifestyle buisness, DearKeaton.com, which she sold last year.
“I love artisan-made goods that have a story or help support female co-ops around the world. My most recent sourcing trips have been to Bali, Morocco, Mexico, Paris, Sante Fe and Texas. We love mixing vintage, antiques and contemporary with artisan goods,” Hutcheson said.
The couple wanted their home to be dog-friendly for their two English cocker spaniels, Sam and Gus. A sofa and two chairs in neutral colors with deep green accent pillows offer comfortable seating for guests and the puppies around the rock fireplace. An antique 9-foot table from Indonesia graces the dining area, complemented by a tall, leather vase with fringe filled with oleander branches cut on one of her walks in the neighborhood. Other items in the space include a bamboo side table in the kitchen area and a modern, glass table under the window in the living area.
Downstairs, there are two guest bedrooms with a Jack-and-Jill bath between them. The queen room, named for the bed size, has an antique rug. A pom-pom blanket from Morocco, and two indigo shibori pillows, hand blocked and hand dyed, accent the neutral linens. Artwork includes one painting by Craig Greene and an abstract by friend Melissa Payne Baker. In the twin room, the second guest room downstairs, beds are raised high for a more adult look and adorned with coverlets from Bali. Jenna Snyder Phillips painted the Native American silhouettes over the beds. An antique dropleaf table sits between the beds to serve as side table for both, complete with contemporary lamps. A square leather stool sits at the end of each bed for suitcases or extra seating.
“Our only requirement for the guest rooms was that they were comfortable. And I only used white linens, so everything is easy to wash after each visit. Guests often say they have the best night’s sleep here, but we’re not sure if it’s the beds or the bourbon,” Hutcheson said.
The original heart pine treads remain on the stairs, but the railing was updated to carry the simpler lines upstairs. A quilt made in Minneapolis by local artisans hangs in the stairwell over a vintage rug found on a trip to Round Top, Texas. In the corner of the landing, a long, wooden rod from an antique weaving loom holds two hats from Bali that the couple grab on their way to the boat.
Upstairs, the loft overlooking the living room became an extra bedroom with an antique brass bed covered with a blanket from Bali. An antique desk, layered with a new rattan table underneath, serves as the nightstand. The white leather poufs at the end of the bed are from Morocco, and the pillows in the chairs were crafted from an antique kilim rug. Hutcheson repurposed a handstitched kantha blanket into draperies, and a photo she took of a Shetland pony nuzzling a fence at Serenbe, Georgia, became a larger-than-life photo for the wall.
An iron canopy bed provides the focal point for the master bedroom. Hutcheson added lamps made from vintage iron work and a tall 1800s antique English chest found at Scott’s in Atlanta. Laura Young Morgan created the mixed media artwork in the room.
A small guestroom upstairs with a sloped ceiling provides a cozy nook for sleeping on a contemporary ivory leather bed adorned with a Moroccan pom-pom blanket and blue hand-woven Indian wool pillows. An original painting from Ukraine and an antique rug complete the space.
Outside the home, the porch on the lake side was decorated during the quarantine with a dining table and chairs on one end plus a sitting area with a swing on the other end. The swing was left at the house by the previous owners, but a refinish and new ropes made it new again. It’s one of Hutcheson’s favorite places. Most recently, she added drapes, made with an outdoor fabric, on an iron rod across the back of the porch to open and close in the afternoon when the direct sun warms the space a bit too much in the summer months. Mostly hardwood trees surround the home, which is fenced unobtrusively for Gus and Sam.
The Hutchesons added a new cooking deck on the side of the home that includes a built-in gas grill and Big Green Egg. Under vintage string lights, a long sofa and chairs provide the perfect place to relax before dinner. Knotts made the coffee table out of an old ramp used previously at the house for dogs to enter and exit the lake.
“We loved the wood the ramp was built from. When we thought of all the happy times it brought we decided to keep the wood for something special. It was perfect for making the long outdoor coffee table,” Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson’s eye for unique pieces – such as an old wooden Parcheesi board, an antique measuring stick, a Mr. Potato Head painted on canvas, paintings from artists she has met – have added charm and warmth to the home. While Hutcheson launches her interior design business in both Atlanta and at Lake Martin, she and John spend time in both locations. The couple enjoy having friends and family share happy times with them and the dogs in their beautiful home on the lake.