“Lake Burton is all about celebrating the outdoors,” says Atlanta interior designer Leigh Welch. “The cooler temperatures, beautiful views and the clean mountain air are all what we love about lake living.” For this vacation home about an hour north of Atlanta, her goal was to reconfigure and re-decorate what had previously been a dark and inefficient cabin. The new look: bright and friendly, with rustic charm galore and a strong link to the outside.
Welch started with the porches, entertainment central for most lake homes. “The porches were what drew my clients to this house initially,” says the designer. “But porches are only inviting when well-furnished and with a variety of seating.” For the wide front porch and spacious back porch, Welch selected materials able to weather the seasons: indoor-outdoor wicker, durable fabrics and locally made wood pieces. She included a table and chairs for dining al fresco, as well as multiple seating areas and rocking chairs.
The porches, as well as interior rooms, incorporate items made by local artisans as an homage to the area. “I always like to include North Georgia Folk Pottery in my houses because it’s part of the heritage,” says Welch. “People collect it all over the world, and here it’s made nearby. Lula, Georgia, is home to many families who have been making pottery just like their ancestors did long ago.” An urn holding sunflowers by the front door was created by a local potter from the Meadors family. Nearby artist Charlie West made most of the lamps inside, she adds.
To create a fresh backdrop for the interior rooms, Welch painted all the walls Pratt and Lambert Bracken Creme Medium Light. “Painting everything the same is unifying and peaceful and lets the focus be on the outside views,” says the designer. “People particularly love painted plank boards. They create a warm farmhouse feeling.”
In addition to decorating changes, Welch tackled some remodeling projects that upped the enjoyment factor. The previous kitchen had been down the hall and away from any people or views. “We moved it to the end of the great room, so that the kitchen is now part of the great room and has views of the porches and lake,” explains the designer. “The footprint was extended back four feet, which is all we needed to get everything we wanted in the space.”
She also moved an existing fireplace in the family room from out of a corner to the middle of the room, where it can be part of Saturday afternoons watching football or holiday weekends. To accommodate a TV and other entertaining essentials, Welch designed a custom cabinet made of barn wood that blends with existing colors.
Welch is pleased that the basic bones of the house remained the same but the home feels like a whole new destination. “This house actually had all the space it needed,” she says, “but it was used very poorly in its earlier life and needed a better floor plan. Space is like money—it should be spent wisely.”