Inside Elizabeth Ingram and Alton Brown’s Alabama lake house

An intentionally minimalist lake house allows this high-profile couple to hang out in one big room—with a gorgeous view all around

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Elizabeth Ingram and Alton Brown lake house
Interior designer Elizabeth Ingram and her husband, Food Network star Alton Brown, kept the design low-key everywhere at their Alabama vacation home, a welcome contrast to their busy lives in Atlanta. An oversized orange beanbag chair from Design Within Reach easily can be moved around the property.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Most of the time, they’re on the go as an award-winning interior designer and Food Network star respectively, but, occasionally, Elizabeth Ingram and Alton Brown are quiet lake people. Their second home (actually third, since they also have a place in New York City) on an Alabama lake is a brief two-hour drive from their Marietta loft.

Elizabeth Ingram and Alton Brown lake house
This retreat was originally a ’60s farmhouse. The couple stripped it to the studs to create one big room facing the water.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Simplicity epitomized The couple purchased a basic ’60s farmhouse and took it down to the studs, leaving original roof trusses exposed. “I have fond memories of summer camp in North Carolina when I was a little girl,” says Elizabeth. “I basically wanted to recreate the simplicity and rustic innocence of that camp experience, so we just stripped everything down and used plywood as a humble building material.” Most of the budget was spent on the windows, to open up an entire wall that faces the lake.

Elizabeth Ingram and Alton Brown lake house
Open shelves, a concrete-topped island, and a freestanding farmhouse sink fit the laidback vibe for the kitchen. All custom steel is by Fred Martin Welding; Roger Balko was the builder for the entire project. Bar stools are vintage from 1st Dibs.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Utility kitchen The food-centric couple prefers a cooking space that’s unfussy and somewhat deconstructed compared to typical kitchens, which might seem surprising, given that Elizabeth has designed such renowned restaurants as the Iberian Pig and Marcel and Alton long has hosted the Food Network series Good Eats and Cutthroat Kitchen (and the two of them created the popular Quarantine Quitchen YouTube series while at home during the pandemic). The utilitarian space features steel bases supporting the freestanding sink and  counters, with a long concrete countertop on the island.

It takes two Traditionally, living areas are anchored with a sofa, but this one is just for the two of them and a pair of chairs. “I really just wanted to keep the furnishings very simple but texturally luxurious,” says the designer. “The swivel chairs act as our sofa, and, since our TV is on a lift that goes up and down in the cabinet at the end of the bed, we can pivot to watch that or stare out at the lake.” Elizabeth’s design studio created the chairs, covered in shearling and a wetsuit-like material called Maharam Scuba.

Elizabeth Ingram and Alton Brown lake house
Textural bed linens are from Red Ticking in Seattle. Open shelves and built-in drawers make the most of limited space. A pop-up TV is hidden in the plaster-covered console at the foot of the bed. The floor lamp is vintage from Brick + Mortar.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Bedroom basics A built-in bed has drawers, shelves, and a pop-up TV. “Most people want to be able to sleep a lot of friends and family at a vacation home, but we really just want to keep it for ourselves,” says Elizabeth. “That allowed us to keep it very simple, open, and small.”

Elizabeth Ingram and Alton Brown lake house
Cedar strips that line the bathroom walls and ceilings are originally from Maine. “They make the room smell like a Swedish sauna,” says Elizabeth. Floor and wall tiles are by Daltile. The wall sconces are from Urban Remains, a Chicago-based source for architectural elements and artifacts.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

This article appears in our Summer 2021 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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