The Art of Relaxation

Clean lines and eclectic artwork come together in a lake house that’s easy on the eyes—and the soul.

Architect Alex Krumdieck worked closely with the Rhodens to create a footprint that sacrificed as few trees as possible. The result is an unobtrusive structure that hugs the shoreline and blends in with the bosky surroundings. Photos by Rob Culpepper

Second homes can feel themey—fast. But not Cindy and Ken Rhoden’s. You won’t find campy plaids, canoe paddles, or any other played-out design tropes at the couple’s Lake Martin getaway. Yet the 2,500-square-foot home feels anything but out of place. Located in a Russell Lands community, its woodsy lot inspired the design decisions both inside and out. “I never really wanted a lake house until this spot came along,” says Cindy. “This property has everything you desire in a place by the water. It’s shaded, quiet, and has an ‘old lake’ feel. Still, it’s a quick drive to Catherine’s Market (the grocery at Russell Crossroads, the hub of the lake community), and that was a game changer for me. I’m not someone who can buy groceries for an entire week at the lake!”

The Rhodens enjoy logging screen time of the old-fashioned variety thanks to a spacious front porch (it measures 18 feet long) divided into different “rooms.” Four deep-seated chairs create a cozy conversation space, while a trestle table provides a dining area.

The prized location came with a unique arrangement—a shallow lot and ample water frontage that made designing a home tricky. To create their lake escape, the Rhodens teamed up with architect Alex Krumdieck of Birmingham’s Krumdieck A + I Design. After closely studying the terrain, Alex developed a modest footprint and striking, steep-pitched roof scheme. “The roof planes mimic the canopies of the trees and really nestle the house down to the ground,” he says. Along those same lines, he encouraged the Rhodens to try an unusual color on the exterior—all black. “The dark color lets the house all but disappear among the trees,” he says. “From the water, it’s a satisfyingly, seamless look.”

The Rhodens 7 ½-foot-long dining table was the winner of the 2017 Garden & Gun Made in the South awards. Handcrafted by Birmingham’s Alabama Sawyer, the bespoke table was created from downed Hackberry trees. Its wishbone-shaped iron legs were forged at Sloss Furnaces.
Owner Cindy Rhoden’s penchant for eclectic artwork is best on display in the dining room, where she curated a dynamic gallery wall. Prized works include a fruit still life, (purchased years ago at Tricia’s Treasures), that inspired the home’s color palette and an illuminated, three-dimensional bird piece by Birmingham artist Sarah Heath (Gallery 1930).

Inside, Cindy took the décor in an equally natural, albeit brighter, direction. “I lean towards modern, clean interiors,” she says. “I wanted the house to reflect that but also spotlight the beautiful scenery.” To walk that fine line, she opted for creamy white walls (White Dove by Benjamin Moore) that wonderfully complement, rather than compete, with the floor-to-ceiling windows and the waterscape beyond. The white oak floors also add to the home’s organic feel. Rather than a traditional stain and polyurethane sealant, Cindy employed an eco-friendly oil coating (Rubio Monocoat) that seeps into the wood for a soft, feather-like finish. “They are heavenly to walk on,” she says.

While the home’s interior reads neutral, it’s anything but boring. Cedar beams and vintage-inspired lighting add a bit of nostlagia. Furnishings feature a number of antique and vintage items that have some sit-and-stay-awhile appeal. An avid art collector, Cindy further enlivened the white rooms with pieces full of color and texture. “I don’t have grandchildren—yet. But I filled this house with artwork that I love in hopes it will be imprinted in the memories of the children who will one day spend time here,” she says.

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With the project complete, the Rhodens have just what they set out to achieve—a happy place to unwind with family and friends that is equal parts cabin and house. Indeed, the Rhodens find themselves relaxing the very moment they turn into the long red-dirt drive.

Worldly vintage pieces hold court in the living room, where items such as a Persian rug, Indian wedding table, and mid-century Spanish armchairs bring patina to the newly constructed home. Bertoia counter stools lend a modern edge.
In the master bedroom, neutral bed linens and window treatments keep the focus on the picturesque scene just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows.
While Cindy has been known to buy artwork anytime and anywhere (“If it speaks to me, it usually comes home with me,” she says), she has a soft spot for Studio by the Tracks ( With a gallery and studio in Irondale and a retail location in Homewood, the nonprofit offers works by artists with autism spectrum disorders. Pieces created by Studio by the Tracks artists can be found throughout the lake house, including many items displayed in a dining room gallery wall. “I love seeing how artists’ personalities blossom through their various mediums,” Cindy says.

A Good Plan

Architect Alex Krumdieck shares smart strategies for making the most of lake views and creating an ideal, laid-back atmosphere.

Prioritize the porch.
“We took advantage of the home’s close proximity to the water with a screened porch that runs almost the entire length of the lakeside of the home. The result is a continuous connection between the house and the water.”

Keep it casual.
“The Rhodens didn’t want any formalities at the lake. As a result, we went with a streamlined, open floor plan where the kitchen, dining room, living room, and porch work as a singular space.”

Make guests at home.
“This isn’t a terribly large house, but it is an incredibly efficient one that was designed with guests in mind. Each of the four bedrooms has its own ensuite bath, giving company a boutique hotel experience.”

Krumdieck A + I Design, 205.324.9669, Builder: Chad Calhoun, Classic Homes, 256.397.1003 or 256.675.6011 Tile and stone: Triton Stone Group, 205.592.0202, Tile and stone installation: Alabama Stone Works, Security/surround system: AVX, 205.871.7289, Various pieces: Eneby Home, Nashville, Dining area chandelier: Workstead,

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