Mary Helen Heaner has fond memories of visiting Lake Allatoona as a child growing up in Rome, Georgia, and she always hoped she’d have a home there. Last year, she and her husband, Andrew, built a new house on the lake’s southern shore in Acworth, creating the perfect meeting point between their home in Sandy Springs, business in Atlanta, their son in Roswell, and their commercial cattle operation and exotic animal farm in Rome.
“It’s 45 minutes for everybody,” says Mary Helen. Lake Allatoona, a reservoir owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is just 30 miles from Atlanta and is often overlooked for the flashier lakes of North Georgia. “It’s mostly undeveloped,” adds Andrew. “And it’s very quiet.”
From the get-go, the couple had an interior designer in mind. The talented Emily Karempelis, founder of EK Interiors, has been friends with their daughter since preschool, and her mother, Leslie Worthington, had helped the Heaners with furnishings in previous houses. (Karempelis jokes that she brought her mother out of retirement to help with the soft goods in this project, since she typically focuses on architectural features like cabinetry and millwork.) Together, they selected a plan by architect Linda MacArthur, tweaking some details to maximize views of the lake, and enlisted builder David Sinclair to carry it out.
Personal touches can be found throughout the elegant, rustic home. The wood beams in
the main living area were reclaimed from Mary Helen’s old family textile mill in Aragon, Georgia. The ironwork was crafted by one of the Heaners’ farm employees, Mark Martin. Though Andrew’s primary business is insurance, their cattle operation covers 4,000 acres, and they also have around 200 exotic animals, including zebras, camels, emus, and bison. There are hints of this passion too, as in a zebra-patterned throw, the cowhide-like kitchen countertop, and a guest room with a series of animal drawings.
Andrew insists the house was a gift to his wife, but one of his requests was an alternative to drywall—something with more character. Thus the variety of wood wall textures, from shiplap to board and batten, which adds to the warm, casual vibe. Hoping to create a fun retreat for family, which includes their two grown children, the Heaners had the basement decked out, complete with a full kitchen, a custom pool table, and a walnut ping-pong table by woodworker (and farm employee) Greg Crawford, which converts to a beautiful dining table in a pinch. It’s not hard to see why they describe their style as relaxed and “simply grand.”
Interior design Emily Karempelis, EK Interiors, ekinteriors.design
Architect Linda MacArthur, lindamacarthurarchitect.com
Builder David Sinclair, New Rosslyn Construction, 770-355-5362
Cabinetry Cabinet Resources, cabinetresources.com
Hardware Rocky Mountain Hardware, rockymountainhardware.com
Breakfast room Chandelier: The Big Chandelier, thebigchandelier.com. Chairs: Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.
Kitchen Countertops: MSI Atlanta, msistone.com. Appliances: SubZero Wolf, subzero-wolf.com. Faucet: Waterstone, waterstoneco.com
Guest room Pillows: Lacefield Designs, lacefielddesigns.com
Guest bath Faucet: Kohler, kohler.com. Mirror: Stacy Milburn Studio, stacymilburnstudio.com
Office bath Tile: Builders Floor Covering & Tile, getnewfloorstoday.com. Faucet: Kohler
Game room Pool table: Olhausen Billiards Manufacturing via the Man Cave Store, themancave.com.
This article appears in our Summer 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.