Arts and Crafts-inspired Lake House

For this Arts & Crafts-inspired lake house near the Blue Ridge Mountains, architect Jeffrey Dungan uses colors, forms, and materials found in nature.

Greg Sebolt calls architect Jeffrey Dungan a land whisperer. “When we first walked the property together, I could see Jeff’s mind working,” says Sebolt, whose six-bedroom family retreat nestles among trees and overlooks the water within the Reserve at Lake Keowee in South Carolina. “After dinner, he drew a quick sketch of the house he envisioned—and that is almost exactly how it looks today.” 

The long, narrow house of wood and stone hugs the shoreline.

William Abranowicz

With sunlight slanting through the leafy canopy onto its low-sweeping cedar-shake roof and a three-story stone tower, the house would not look out of place in the English countryside. Inspired by the London-born, late-19th-century architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, Dungan says he “took the Arts & Crafts [movement] and cleaned it up a little bit” by cutting back on ornamentation. Yet there’s an undeniable storybook charm about the place, further enhanced by its setting: a peaceful spot where the Blue Ridge Mountains seem to rise up in the distance from the placid surface of the lake. “Greg, his wife, Barbara, and I all wanted something that was soulful, and it was important to get the materials and the mood right,” says Dungan, whose firm is based in Birmingham, Alabama. 

The keeping room centers on a steel-encased fireplace, reflecting light from windows at the far end of the room.

William Abranowicz

What Dungan refers to as architectual detail, others might anthropomorphize as a personality trait, and it’s tempting to label this home’s aesthetic as masculine. “We used wood in a variety of textures, shapes, sizes, and colors, plus board-formed concrete and stone, and in some areas steel and glass,” says Dungan. “I can’t think of too many materials—at least those that are natural—that we didn’t use.”

With its textural jute rug, heavy timbers, and a natural palette, the great room has an indoor/outdoor feeling.

William Abranowicz

Douglas fir, cypress, oak, and pine find expression in flooring, paneling, cabinetry, and exposed posts and beams. For walls and a floating staircase inside the tower, which leads to Sebolt’s office, the wood actually came from a massive white oak felled as the house site was cleared. “When I go up and down the stairs, I like to think about the tree that once lived close to this very spot,” muses Sebolt. 

Adjacent to the kitchen, the family-centric keeping room was designed as if it it were the ancient heart of the house.

William Abranowicz

From room to room, Dungan maintained his palette of materials in an undisturbed flow, yet he is also keenly aware of the importance of variety in design. Along with the views and the topography, the sun plays a role in “decorating” the house, offering different qualities of light as the day unfolds. In sine spaces, “the ceiling comes down to meet you and the feeling is a little more compressed,” explains the architect. “Other spaces are the opposite—big, open, and filled with light.”

Covered porches are one aspect of almost 3,000 square feet of outdoor living space.

William Abranowicz

The room they refer to as the keeping room, adjacent to the kitchen, is framed in big timber. It’s “one of the top three rooms I’ve ever done in terms of how much I appreciate and enjoy it,” says Dungan. His clients feel the same way. Atmospheric, with an inglenook banquette, a fireplace, and a bar, it fits Dungan’s criteria for a good room—one loved, used, and experienced. The architect says he wanted it to feel like an 1800s-era, handcrafted cabin, around which the rest of the house was built.

The keeping room has a bar, with a custom soapstone sink and counters. A mirror reflects the chandelier in the great room.

William Abranowicz

“I’m always interested in how someone wants to live in a given environment,” continues Dungan. These clients and their four children embrace living on the water—kayaking, paddle-boarding, fishing, and wake surfing. “We wanted the outdoors and indoors to merge, and have as many places as possible to extend our living area,” says Sebolt, who takes full advantage of almost 3,000 square feet for outdoor living and entertaining. The whole family enjoys the lake-facing rear of the house, and also spends time on the front patio, with its Dungan-designed fireplace and its location distant from the road. “It’s an incredibly peaceful place to hang out,” notes Sebolt.

A glazed connector joins the great room (seen beyond) to the master wing, a chalet-like structure.

William Abranowicz

Anchored in stone, and with a cedar roof, the house blends into the forested site.

William Abranowicz

In one outdoor living space, a serving bar is on the terrace; a covered porch occupies the level above.

William Abranowicz

The rear porch features a fireplace, and has views to the lake and the garden.

William Abranowicz


Tags: New Old House NOH Winter 2022

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