With their permanent residence only an hour and a half away, Thad and Allison Estes have had easy access to Lake Martin as their go-to weekend and summer haven for 17 years. Columbus, Georgia, natives, the Esteses owned a home in the Sandy Creek area for seven years, but when they happened upon a cabin for sale near Anchor Bay, their sense of adventure was piqued. Allison loves to decorate, and Thad loved the big water view, so the new location fit the bill. Three renovations later, the Esteses could not be happier with their decision. 

“We were riding around in the boat one day, one of our favorite things to do, and we were definitely not looking for a new place. We saw the For Sale sign and the awesome boathouse; then, Thad saw the cabin, and he knew it had potential,” Allison Estes said. 

The 2,100-square-foot cabin sits on a half-acre lot with the lakeside beauty of natural boulders in the hillside leading down to the water, a heavily wooded backyard and established landscaping. The cabin itself had white vinyl siding and a green metal roof, which became the first two items to receive updates as the couple began making changes to their new location.

“We hired Kevin Shubird of WSC Distinctive Builders in Wetumpka to do our first renovation. We replaced the vinyl siding with HardiePlank board-and-batten siding and painted it what I think is a perfect lake house color – Urbane Bronze from Sherwin-Williams. We were even able to paint the metal roof gray. Inside, we removed a wall that blocked the entryway view of the main room. Losing that wall just opened up the whole house,” Estes said.

Fresh paint updated the entire home. The original pine floors were painted Cord from Farrow and Ball, and the walls and the beadboard ceiling were refreshed with white. 

The second renovation phase, completed by Henderson and Coker in Alexander City, installed floor-to-ceiling sliding doors from the house onto the screened porch to enhance the lake view. Wicker furniture with light green and brown cushions and pillows graces the screened porch. Small tables with lamps, oars standing in the corner and live plants decorate the cozy, restful space.

The Esteses’ home includes three bedrooms and three baths, but a separate 800-square-foot guesthouse sits several yards from the main house.

“We actually call it the fraternity house. It’s a big open space with six beds, a pool table and college furniture. It’s indestructible,” she said. “My son, Mobley, worked at SpringHouse and The Ridge during several summers here. In fact, he was inspired from that work to change his major to hospitality. He ended up with an internship at Kowaliga Restaurant, so he has a great connection to the lake and still loves to bring friends – lots and lots of friends.”

The Henderson and Coker renovation also constructed the Esteses’ favorite spot – a stone patio surrounded by a stone wall with steps to the boathouse. Nearby, Thad has set up a tee box for his guests and for him to practice their golf swings while seeing how far they can hit balls into the lake. An original stone fire pit is positioned downhill from the patio. 

“We love the patio and the panoramic lake view that goes all the way to Kowaliga Bridge. We just like to sit right there and watch the world go by,” Estes said.

Anthony Roland came in to do a third renovation of a guest room and a bathroom.

“Roland suggested shiplap in the main areas of the house, which we’d never thought about, and we love it,” she added. 

Estes carried a theme of bright blues, yellows and reds in fabrics and paintings throughout the home, splashing color against the white shiplap and crisp, white linens. The walls are complete with whimsical frames, sailboats, fish and a large framed map of Lake Martin.

“We moved most of the furniture from our cabin in Blue Creek. We love antiques, both of our parents are in the antique business, and I love to shop thrift stores,” Estes said. 

Just off the entry, two bedrooms and baths provide comfortable spaces for family and guests.

One guest bedroom features an iron headboard that Estes bought online; then, painted blue to match a shuttered TV cabinet. A white quilted coverlet and sheers on the window add to the relaxed surroundings.

“This room went through phases with color and function. As our daughter’s bedroom, it was a bright, happy green color, but as a guestroom, we painted it white,” she said.

A wide opening and steps lead from the foyer into the main room. A white cotton slipcovered sofa and club chairs provide seating in the living area. The Esteses selected the floor color, Cord, to paint the original brick fireplace for contrast with the white walls. Blue and white pillows and lamps, plus red and white pouf ottomans, add pops of color, as do nautical flags over the sofa. Lucite end tables and a colorful abstract painting bring a modern touch.

“I saw the painted flag canvases in a magazine and decided I could do it myself. It was a lot of fun, and I am happy with the colors on that wall,” Estes said. 

The kitchen has the original white tiles on the countertops, and the Esteses added track lighting to brighten; a rug to soften; and a tall, blue chest-of-drawers to provide extra storage in the kitchen.

The dining area has windows on three sides. Estes furnished the room with a pine table and chairs, a whitewashed bench and a tall, gray hutch on which to display dishes. A drum shade pendant chandelier lights the table. 

“I found the hutch and the metal bar stools at Scott Antiques in Atlanta,” she said.

The master bedroom is located just off the living area, and the couple loves the space in the large room. The upholstered headboard and linens were custom-made to coordinate in a taupe and white, large, checkered print. Estes has a collection of antique wooden boxes of many shapes and sizes displayed on the side tables, along with brass and glass lamps. Prints of fish and ferns reflect the natural world found on the lakeside beyond the bedroom windows. 

With imagination and patience, the Esteses created a peaceful home away from home. Now they just ease into their weekends and enjoy being on lake time.