Lake Minded

An Atlanta family answers the call of Lake Burton in this relaxing retreat by Spitzmiller & Norris and Teri Duffy.

When architects Rick Spitzmiller and Robert Norris were approached by their longtime clients to design a vacation home on the shores of Lake Burton, they asked the couple to do one thing: think outside the box. “Because this house was going to be a retreat, they had the freedom to dream up things that wouldn’t necessarily suit their in-town home,” explains Spitzmiller.

In the very early design stages—a collaborative process that included interior designer Teri Duffy and builder Chris Clay—one architectural style continued to pique the homeowners’ interest. Inspired by the couple’s response to early 20th-century East Coast architecture, Spitzmiller and Norris fashioned their lake house with clean lines, ample windows and deep exterior overhangs. The duo’s floor plan also incorporated both marvelous open spaces for gathering and plenty of nooks and crannies for quiet moments.

While the open-concept living level provides easy flow, varying beam configurations and ceiling heights subtly delineate each room. Even a transition in flooring, from hardwood to stone, not only adds visual impact but also gives the connecting kitchen, dining room and living room individual flair. “The changes in materials and patterns echo the geometry of each room,” says Spitzmiller. “There’s a relatedness, but different arrangements were chosen to help give particular spaces distinction.”

To mirror the home’s architectural sophistication, Duffy took a soft and serene approach with the aesthetics. “This is a big house, so we had to be mindful of making it feel comfortable and approachable,” she says. The home’s warm, neutral color palette was selected with relaxation in mind, and practical fabrics play up an easygoing sensibility appropriate for lake life. Window treatments were forgone in the living and dining room so as not to distract from the views.

The home’s lake setting reverberates deeply in its design, from the use of indigenous materials—notably in the form of a custom stone niche in the kitchen—to the nautical charm of the son’s bedroom. Working with Clay, Duffy designed a floating bed frame that’s seemingly suspended from the ceiling by 4-inch rope.

For all the home’s interior appeal, the exterior commands equal attention. Great care was taken to ensure that the home would appear to have grown out of its site as opposed to merely sitting on top of it. And with a bevy of outdoor spaces—from bedroom balconies to the sitting porch—from which to enjoy Lake Burton’s glistening waters, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

ARCHITECTURE Rick Spitzmiller and Robert Norris, Spitzmiller & Norris. (404) 812-0224; INTERIOR DESIGN Teri Duffy, T. Duffy & Associates . (404) 843-8600; BUILDER Chris Clay, Clay Contracting. (706) 212-0369;