This Lake Burton house is sophisticated without losing rustic character

The home’s high ceilings and large rooms posed a challenge for designers Carter Kay and Nancy Hooff, along with architect Bill Litchfield
Lake Burton
The Cape Cod-style house, built in 2010, has a central core of communal areas, with a wing of bedrooms on either side.

Photograph by Emily Followill

Lake Burton
The boathouse features a covered rooftop deck for entertaining.

Photograph by Emily Followill

The dramatic architecture of this three-story house perched on a lakeside hill provides inspiring views, thanks to oversized windows and 22-foot ceilings. But large-scale rooms can be a challenge for designers. Such was the case at this Cape Cod–style home on Lake Burton in North Georgia. “Our initial thoughts were that we needed to bring warmth and human scale to those vast ceiling heights and large expanses of glass in the main living areas,” says interior designer Carter Kay.

She and colleague Nancy Hooff, along with architect Bill Litchfield, used a combination of decorating and architectural tricks to tame the scale of the existing home, built in 2010. “We designed iron rods with hanging bars for draperies and art,” explains Kay. “They added a continuous horizontal line around the living room that helped define the space and tone down the scale.”

In the living room, the designers filled expansive walls with tall furnishings. A custom cabinet on one side of the fireplace—which stores a flatscreen TV, among other paraphernalia—is a hefty 10 feet tall. A 13-foot-long sectional accommodates the homeowners’ sizable family, which includes grandchildren and two dogs. “We always work with the idea that the main living areas need to accommodate the number of beds occupied,” says Kay. “In this case, 12 was our magic number.” The L-shaped gray tweed sofa—like most furniture in the house—is covered in sturdy fabric made to withstand stains.

Lake Burton
The iron wall fixture in the living room was fabricated by Jason Smith of Smithworks Iron & Design and is used for hanging curtains and art. A custom settee also softens the expansive wall space.

Photograph by Emily Followill

In the adjacent kitchen and dining room, the design team actually lowered the ceiling as part of a kitchen remodel. The more intimate area now has a 12-foot ceiling (10 feet lower than before); to add another cozy element, the original white pine beams were reattached to the new ceiling. An 11-foot-long chandelier over the dining table repeats the strong lines of the island and cooktop, notes Kay.

Organic colors and materials define the house and bring warmth to the large spaces. In the kitchen, countertops are soapstone, and a mix of stone and metallic glass tiles forms the backsplash. Above the cooktop, mirrors framed in steel add an industrial element and reflect the living room to link the two spaces visually.

Kay and Hooff deftly incorporated fabric and artwork to contribute color and pattern to an otherwise neutral palette. “Fortunately, these homeowners love art, but we always try to include original art as part of the budget with any project,” says Kay. “We don’t ever want to say at the last minute, ‘Oh, now we need something for over the mantel.’” Conversation-worthy paintings and decorative details also give this lake house a less themed look. “Twenty years ago, people had a certain preconception of what a lake house should look like,” says Kay. “But we wanted these interiors to be less ‘lakey’ and more personal.”

Ironwork: Smithworks Iron & Design. Sitting area/living room Sectional: O. Henry, Travis & Company, with Mitchell Gold fabric. Coffee table: Formations, Jerry Pair. Chairs by fireplace: Gregorius Pineo, Jerry Pair. Settee: Saladino. Rug: Brown stripe flat-weave rug on top and Eve & Staron rug on bottom, Moattar. Artwork: A mixture of client’s own collection and pieces from Thomas Deans Fine Art. Backsplash tile: Metallic glaze glass tile, Walker Zanger. Counter stools: Noir. Dining area Chairs: Noir; Peter Fasano fabric on backs of chairs; Elizabeth Dow fabric on chair fronts and seats, Travis & Company. Light fixture: Holly Hunt. Porch Dining chairs: Palecek in Perennials fabric, Grizzel & Mann. Round dining table: Go Home. Straw umbrella light: South of Market. Swivel chairs: Kolo Collection.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.