Lake Season

With a relaxed tone attuned to the setting, this vacation home overlooking Lake Martin strikes the perfect balance between casual reassurance and gracious refinement.

Enlivened with a mix of native stone and dark woods, this new house at Willow Glynn takes advantage of its prime spot along the shore of Lake Martin. “There are lots of ways to engage the water from a property like this, ” explains architect Jeff Dungan. “You should always be aware of the lake and arrange porches and rooms based on the views they will command.” Photos by Jean Allsopp

A place at the lake should be a departure from one’s house in town. On vacation, it’s all about good times with family and friends. Interior designer Paige Schnell and architect Jeff Dungan joined forces to create just such a getaway for a Birmingham family.   

Located on a prominent point, the home offers commanding views out to big water. With such a setting comes an inherent mandate to defer to nature. Accordingly, the architecture is extremely site specific and animated as it follows the gently sloping landscape and rambles along the shoreline, allowing nearly every room in the house to enjoy views of the lake. “There is an energy and power in the contours of certain natural places, ” says Jeff. “If you listen closely, these forces will help guide you.”   

An antique dining table adds a touch of sophistication. The kelly green nailhead banding on the upholstered chairs echoes the colors of the adjoining living room.

Everything about a second home is typically more casual. Although this house nods to the familiar forms and romantic notions of the lake’s historic Russell cabins, its refined proportions and handcrafted materials establish a commanding stature and sense of permanence. 

In addition, the house possesses an all-important interchange between indoors and outdoors with a generous screen porch. “In that moment when you screen a porch, the space is completely changed, ” explains Jeff. “It’s not transparent anymore. It becomes translucent. And that makes a big difference.”  

- Sponsors -

Reflecting the best of both worlds, this gracious outdoor room repeats the stone of the exterior and the living room fireplace. The flooring consists of the same Peacock Pavers used in the foyer and kitchen. Measuring nearly 20 by 20 feet, the porch is large enough to include both a congenial conversation area and a dining space for 10. “We chose the sofa and chairs for comfort and the Sunbrella fabrics for durability, ” explains Paige. “Lamps on the end tables and colorful accent pillows enhance the feeling of a real room.”  

Striking a balance between the drama of the landscape and the finesse of the architecture, interiors spaces marry the best aspects of a modern open plan with traditional details and thoughtful furniture placement. And every room capitalizes on the stunning views. “This is a house that never lets you forget where you are, ” Paige says. “When you are here, it’s almost impossible to turn your back on the lake.”         

With sunlight flooding into the porch, doors swung open, and the boat tuned up for action, this weekend house exudes an invitation to kick off your shoes, unwind, and make some memories. And it’s the reason this Birmingham family waits anxiously to make the trek to Lake Martin at the first hint of warm weather.

Location: Willow Glynn,  Lake Martin Architecture: Jeff Dungan,  Jeffrey Dungan Architects • Birmingham,  205.447.5952 Interiors: Paige Sumblin Schnell, Tracery • Rosemary Beach, FL,  850.231.6755 Builder: Marbury McCullough, TCC Contractors • Alexander City, AL,  256.392.4115

ABOVE The open kitchen, featuring limestone counters and a butcher block island, is designed for family gatherings and casual entertaining.

To instill the master suite with a feeling of a true retreat, designer Paige Schnell chose a soothing palette of purples and lavenders against a neutral background. A pair of nubby linen chairs with patterned silk pillows anchor a sunny reading nook. “A little silk goes a long way in adding a touch of elegance, ” says Paige. Two mirrored bedside tables round out the ensemble.

The screen porch is both the physical and philosophical heart of the house. A natural stone fireplace and dark wooden walls add texture and warmth. The language of the details and the choice of materials are consistent inside and out. “Pretense is at a minimum, ” says architect Jeff Dungan. “Ease, comfort, and relaxation are the essence of this lake home.”

Great New Neighborhoods from Russell Lands

Willow Glynn (Featured Above)

As the sister neighborhood to Willow Point, Willow Glynn has made a name for itself due to its Craftsman-style architecture and beautiful lakeside setting. Since its establishment in 2008, two phases have been completed, and a new section opened last year. Like the first two phases, the latest neighborhood is situated on the southern banks of Pitchford Hollow, an area fed by the Parker and Oakachoy Creeks and known for its sandy lake bottoms and spectacular blue waters. Waterfront and water-access lots, each densely wooded with a mixture of mature hardwoods and pines, are currently available.

Willow Glynn already boasts miles of sidewalks and forest trails, as well as a secured, gated entry and a neighborhood park. In addition, residents enjoy walking across lovely wooden bridges and along soft mulch paths that meander through the forests. 

Many residents of Willow Glynn enjoy the proximity to the private Willow Point Golf and Country Club. The centerpiece of the country club is the beautiful 18-hole championship golf course. Willow Point also offers members access to a clubhouse and restaurants, tennis center, lakeside pool, courtesy boat docks, cabana, and fitness facility. Homeowners in Willow Glynn have the opportunity to apply for membership at the Willow Point Golf and Country Club.

Russell Cabins at The Ridge

The very first Russell Cabins were built in the 1930s. These attractive-yet-humble homes offered families an authentic lake lifestyle experience. But for years, these popular cabins were only available to rent, although many desired to own them. That all changed recently with the development of Russell Cabins at The Ridge. Proper land planning would not allow for random ownership of cabins, so the concept of creating an enclave of cabins was born. And the perfect piece of land, with beautiful water views, mature trees, and deep water lots was selected just inside the entry of The Ridge.

Five well-known designers, Bill Farshee, Bill Ingram, Taylor Dawson, Alex Krumdieck, and Jonathan Torode, were selected to create seven plans for this very special neighborhood. The resulting designs are modest in size but generous in modern features, while utilizing a blend of rustic materials and timeless architecture—all in keeping with the simple, modest look demanded by lovers of Russell Cabins.

South Ridge Harbor at The Ridge

Located at The Ridge’s southernmost point, South Ridge Harbor offers a collection of 36 homesites with an array of views—from sunrise and sunset to quiet coves and open water. Longtime lake lovers will remember this beautiful piece of land as the former home of the Dixie Sailing Club. Today, this land is set to become home to those who treasure the beauty and joy found only on Lake Martin. Each property has been carefully designed to offer the best house site and waterfront positioning possible. Approved designers and builders have performed studies of each site in order to provide the best possible advice for prospective property owners considering a new lake home.

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!