Redefined Rustic

Masculine meets moody in a family’s South Carolina hunting retreat thanks to rich design details that rival the thrill of the hunt itself.

One of architect Keith Summerour’s specialties, especially as it pertains to his country projects, is his ability to delicately interweave his clients’ contemporary lifestyles into the framework of period floor plans. And for one family’s 4,000-square-foot hunting property near South Carolina’s Lake Wateree, the historic precedent Summerour paid homage to was the utilitarian nature of the 18th-century dogtrot.

In Summerour’s present-day interpretation of the Southern vernacular, it’s the living-dining room on the main floor, and the game room above, that act as central “breezeways”—multifunctional spaces that connect to bedrooms on either side. Another modern-day spin: opening up the back side of the living space to a wall of glass doors that lead to the cantilevered porch—a design decision Summerour dictated due to the sloping nature of the property, as well as to maximize panoramic views afforded by the horseshoe-like shape of the lake below.

And, while the resulting retreat is far from utilitarian, its floor plan is highly functional, designed to sleep as many as 18 but also to contain, store and launder their equipment, from clothing and boots to fishing gear and shotguns—with almost military precision.

As important as its function, though, was crafting a home that would rival the thrill of the hunt itself. Enter Melanie Millner, an Atlanta interior designer and owner of The Design Atelier. Together with builder John Boyte of Charlotte, North Carolina, the trio set out to infuse every crevice of the retreat with a distinct richness of materials, which collectively impart a masculine but moody flair.

The strength of these materials—river-recovered sinker cypress walls throughout, and quarried granite slabs employed to create a mantel—at once echo the delight of discovery on a hunt and contribute to a subtle wow factor evident in the tiniest details. In the kitchen, for instance, shotgun shells reveal themselves in the form of trim on the zinc-topped kitchen island built by Skylar Morgan Furniture + Design. And in the powder room, Millner enlisted Kevin Scanlon to transform an antique French rifle-rack into a conversation-worthy vanity. Also noteable is the Willis Everett-sourced vintage lumber employed in unexpected places, its natural imperfections translating as the just the right finishing touch for bunk beds, bathroom vanities and architectural trim alike.

It’s this incredibly tactile canvas that allowed Millner’s signature brand of chic to shine—the lady of the house and their three children, after all, also needed to feel at home here. Each of the four main-floor bedrooms retain a more traditional flair, with a shotgun shell button-tufted, upholstered wall in one guest room and feminine elements such as a sunburst mirror and series of botanicals hanging in the master. In the living room, Millner injected a bit of the wife’s personality with the salmon-hued mohair chair by the mantel. Just as entrancing are design details such as the box bay window that opens from the kitchen bar to the covered porch; a three-tiered bunk room; or the secret passage with a trap door where the couple’s sons play when they’re not hunting.

“There’s lots of detail here, but it’s masked behind rich material,” says Summerour. Millner agrees: “When you walk in, it feels so rich and thoughtful.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Melanie Millner, The Design Atelier (404) 365-8662; ARCHITECT Keith Summerour, Summerour and Associates Architects (678) 904-8105; BUILDER John Boyte, John F. Boyte Company (980) 321-5179;