“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.

This second home on Lake Burton in north Georgia has plenty of porches for experiencing the setting.

This second home on Lake Burton in north Georgia has plenty of porches for experiencing the setting.

Furnishings on the back porch are mostly neutral, with pops of color coming from a handmade flag made of willow branches and throws in a soft blue. “The throws are from Brahms Mount, and are so soft and cuddly,” says Welch. “We keep them easily accessible for the cooler mountain mornings and evenings, so the changing temps don’t chase you inside.”

Furnishings on the back porch are mostly neutral, with pops of color coming from a handmade flag made of willow branches and throws in a soft blue. “The throws are from Brahms Mount, and are so soft and cuddly,” says Welch. “We keep them easily accessible for the cooler mountain mornings and evenings, so the changing temps don’t chase you inside.”

Another view of the back porch

Another view of the back porch looks out onto the water.

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.

A handmade pot by local artisans holds sunflowers as a welcoming touch. Welch makes it a point to support artists. “Hand made items add the soul to a house and are a part of all of our projects,” she says.

A handmade pot by a local artisan holds sunflowers as a welcoming touch. Welch makes it a point to support artists. “Hand-made items add the soul to a house and are a part of all of our projects,” she says.

Interior designer Leigh Welch shopped Scott’s Antiques, as well as Mainly Baskets and Kingsley Bate, for porch furnishings.

Interior designer Leigh Welch shopped Scott’s Antiques, as well as Mainly Baskets and Kingsley Bate, for porch furnishings.

A large table on the back porch is located off the new kitchen for easy access.

A large table on the back porch is located off the new kitchen for easy access.

Fresh flowers add a fresh touch to a tasteful, natural outdoor setting.

Fresh flowers add a fresh touch to a tasteful, natural outdoor setting.

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.

Welch commissioned local artisan Chris Wilbanks, from nearby Tiger Georgia, to fashion a railing made of mountain laurel for the staircase, creating a sculptural statement and focal point.

Welch commissioned local artisan Chris Wilbanks, from nearby Tiger, Georgia, to fashion a railing made of mountain laurel for the staircase, creating a sculptural statement and focal point.

The living room benefits from a new stone fireplace and custom cabinets holding TVs and other entertaining items. Local craftsmen Toddy Ramey made the cabinet to blend seamlessly with colors elsewhere in the room.

The living room benefits from a new stone fireplace and custom cabinets holding TVs and other entertaining items. Local craftsmen Toddy Ramey made the cabinet to blend seamlessly with colors elsewhere in the room.

A newly remodeled kitchen includes windows overlooking the lake. The island is made of barn wood to coordinate with the TV cabinet.  Stone countertops are an antiqued granite called Sierra Brown--one of Welch’s favorites because of its durability. An antique chandelier over the island adds a sophisticated touch to the otherwise rustic elements.

A newly remodeled kitchen includes windows overlooking the lake. The island is made of barn wood to coordinate with the TV cabinet.  Stone countertops are an antiqued granite called Sierra Brown—one of Welch’s favorites because of its durability. An antique chandelier over the island adds a sophisticated touch to the otherwise rustic elements.

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.

A painting in the guest bedroom is by Andrea Costa. Welch freshened up existing furnishings with the new window treatments and bedskirt.

A painting in the guest bedroom is by Andrea Costa. Welch freshened up existing furnishings with the new window treatments and bedskirt.

Working with Davis and Company, the designer commissioned a custom bed for the master bedroom that resembles an antique. Turned-post beds are a signature look for designer Leigh Welch. Lamp is by artisan Charlie West.

Working with Davis and Company, the designer commissioned a custom bed for the master bedroom that resembles an antique. Turned-post beds are a signature look for designer Leigh Welch. Lamp is by artisan Charlie West.

Comfy club chairs in the master bedroom sitting area are covered in Rogers and Goffigon fabrics.  The side tables and art are from Scott’s Antique Market.

Comfy club chairs in the master bedroom sitting area are covered in Rogers and Goffigon fabrics.  The side tables and art are from Scott’s Antique Market.

Welch added wooden planks to master suite walls and ceilings to continue the treatment on the first floor. Stone tiles are installed using a variety of sizes for a purposefully un-matched look.

Welch added wooden planks to master suite walls and ceilings to continue the treatment on the first floor. Stone tiles are installed using a variety of sizes for a purposefully un-matched look.

Welch moved the powder room from its previous location too close to the front door. “I have always loved powder rooms tucked under the stairs, a trick often found in older homes,” she says. “The quirky space and angled ceilings always feels cozy to me”. The table the sink sits on was a flea market find for $150. “It’s very old, 150 years at least,” says the designer, “And it had wonderful layers of paint. Sometimes you get lucky.”  The mirror is from Scott’s.

Welch moved the powder room from its previous location too close to the front door. “I have always loved powder rooms tucked under the stairs, a trick often found in older homes,” she says. “The quirky space and angled ceilings always feels cozy to me.” The table the sink sits on was a flea market find for $150. “It’s very old, 150 years at least,” says the designer, “and it had wonderful layers of paint. Sometimes you get lucky.”  The mirror is from Scott’s.

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.”

See more of Leigh Welch’s work on her website, lhwdesignsinc.com. And the beautiful photography is by Emily Followill.

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