Lakeside Legacy

Home designer Adam Gerndt helped his clients design a rustic Smith Lake retreat inspired by the past but built for the future.

Lakefront lot
The home sits on two lots that create a gradual slope to the water, requiring no major set of stairs like many lakeside homes. This is one of the many reasons the Smiths were drawn to this particular spot on the lake. — Photography by Chris Luker

Smith Lake has long played a prominent part in the lives of Jennifer and Ken Smith. It was where the young couple spent many weekends at Ken’s parents’ place well before they were even married, so naturally it was the preferred spot when the couple decided to take the plunge and purchase their own lakeside abode. “From the moment we started coming here, we fell in love with it,” Jennifer says. “When a friend of Ken’s decided to sell their home, we jumped on it. It’s one of the best lots on the lake.”

Outdoor living is key to lake life, and Adam Gerndt prefers to include a generous mix of screened porches, terraces, and unscreened porches to maximize the views and entertaining spaces.

The home’s bar was specifically inspired by the large and centrally-located bar at Hooray Ranch. This smaller take on the bar is a family-favorite spot for watching football in the fall with its three TVs. Editorial credit: Jamie Lamor Thompson / Editorial credit: Critical Labz /

And that may be an understatement. Nestled atop a point amongst stately trees, the lot features an easy slope to the water—no stairs required—and nearly 360-degree water views. The same description, however, couldn’t be used for the original home itself. Built in the 1960s, the house didn’t live up to the high standards of its plot. Though the Smiths enjoyed the home as it was for nearly a decade, it became quite clear that some updates had to be done to keep it livable. “We realized we either needed to do a lot of repairs or build new,” Jennifer says. “But we also knew that the first option would require a whole lot of ‘band-aids.’”

The Belgian blue stone tile backsplash from Triton Stone surrounds the custom iron hood from Welded Wood. The interior design team balanced out the room’s darker tones with Calcutta Paonazzo marble (Triton Stone), which blends beautifully thanks to the hint of black, gold, and rust in its veining.

The perfect solution came about when the lot next door went on the market. Rather than renovating, the Smiths purchased the neighboring lot, tore down both houses, and began envisioning a new rustic retreat that would take center stage on the point and full advantage of the lakeside layout. Just as importantly, the new home would be large enough to comfortably house the couple’s expanding family and many friends. “Our kids like to have a lot of friends over too, and sometimes we would be hosting upwards of 25 people,” Jennifer says. “The old house just didn’t have all the space where it was needed to do that easily.”

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In considering the design of the new home, the Smiths wanted to combine their love of the lake with another favorite place: Hooray Ranch, a hunting lodge in Kansas. Ken particularly loved the look and layout of the lodge, but he needed someone who could take the vision and tailor it to their specific needs. The couple found just the right partner with Adam Gerndt. “Adam took the idea and ran with it,” Jennifer says. “From the very first meeting, he grasped every detail perfectly.”

“To create something timeless and generational, the best way to do it is scale and proportion. Those come together in this home in a truly thoughtful way.”

— Adam Gerndt
Primary bedroom
Jennifer chose to keep neutral tones throughout the home, including the primary suite. “I didn’t want anything to feel too feminine or too overly masculine for any guests,” she says.
Primary bathroom
The Calacatta Gold marble water table adds drama to the primary bathroom. The same marble continues into the shower and sits atop the pecky cypress cabinets, which feature a metal mesh for an extra layer of texture. To avoid outshining the marble—and to ensure the space has plenty of light—the interior design team opted for simple sconces. The polished nickel faucet adds a clean, crisp feel to the space.

Adam started by carefully crafting the layout, keeping the main living areas centered in the structure and placing bedroom wings on each side, just like the lodge. This provided privacy while also ensuring every room has a view of the lake. He also made sure the house would live as large as possible when hosting a crowd by utilizing an open concept that features expansive kitchen, living, and dining areas, all directly open to the screened porch, which has become a favorite spot in the house for its views.

To keep the feel of a rustic retreat, Adam opted for natural materials, both inside and out, such as Oneonta brown sandstone, western red cedar, pine-clad walls, and pesky cypress cabinets. These earthy selections not only connect the home to its environment but also stand the test of time for generations to come. Jennifer adds, “Adam designed this home in a way that our family can enjoy forever.”


Home designer: Adam Gerndt, Adams Gerndt Design Group Interior designers: Caitlyn Crowley, Nina Daniels, and Taylor Galloway of Adams Gerndt Design Group Builder: Gillespie Construction Co. Plumbing: V&W Supply Appliances: AllSouth Lighting: Visual Comfort Custom metal work: Ben Smith, Welded Wood Tile and marble: Triton Stone Door and cabinet hardware: Brandino Brass Limestone fireplace surround: Tracery Stone Screened porch furniture: Brooks and Collier, Huntsville Primary bedroom’s wooden bed and nightstands: TD’s Fine Furniture Outlet Select pillows: At Home Furnishings

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