Today’s Charlotte Woman/July 2007
Savoring Summer, A Lakeside Home That Flows With The Seasons
By Lee Rhodes
There’s an old song that laments the notion that “there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” Many would disagree. The season of summer offers the opportunity to barbecue in the back yard, lounge by the pool and, for a fortunate few, savor sun-drenched days at the lake.
Betty Cloninger and her husband, Thomas, enjoy all of the aforementioned activities from their own little slice of paradise along the shores of Lake Wylie. As former coastal dwellers, the Cloningers love all things nautical. They’d always desired a home on the lake but were willing to wait until they could locate an exceptional lot and their children were older and more comfortable around the water.
Their patience paid off. The Cloningers signed an agreement to buy their current lot the same day their Realtor® listed the property back in 1993. With a natural beach, lush landscaping and the dual benefits of privacy and easy access to the main part of the lake, the lot was a gem.
“At that time it had an old trailer and a fishing cabin on it. Both put the word ‘rustic’ in rustic,” Cloninger laughs.
The family tore down the cabin and replaced the trailer with a larger one, affording them the opportunity to enjoy the property while they pondered their architectural options. They began the planning process in 1999, partnering with one of the area’s premier custom home builders, Doug McSpadden of McSpadden Custom Homes. McSpadden recommended Frank Snodgrass for the role of architect.
“We designed the house around what we owned,” Cloninger says. “I knew how I wanted the house to flow, and Frank heard and understood and drew it.” Among other expert decisions, Snodgrass positioned the angles of the house to create water views from almost every room.
Cloninger had specific ideas, not only about the flow of the house, but also with regard to an overall artistic vision. “I wanted to build a house that looked like it belonged on the lake and had been here a long time,” she says. “I didn’t want it to be inappropriate to the lake, like a stucco Florida house or a Tudor Victorian.”
Now, the finished product is accessible via a circular drive that meanders past a graceful fountain and leads to the greenish – blue stone and shingle home with its long front porch, glass-filled front door and cottage-like appearance. But at 8,800 square feet, this spacious mansion hardly qualifies as a cottage. Undoubtedly, it fulfills another aspect of the Cloningers’ original vision – the ability to entertain lots of friends.
Open For Entertaining
Entertaining often takes the form of outdoor parties, both poolside and lakeside. An upper and lower terrace grace the rear of the house and provide stunning vistas of the lake. As a bonus, the upper terrace opens to the master bedroom, library and great room, which unfolds into a high-end kitchen, affording convenient access between the terrace’s frequently utilized grill and the heart of the home.
Warm and inviting, the kitchen features all manner of appliances. Three ovens, two refrigerators and a microwave and warming drawer make cooking for crowds an easy task, while two dishwashers make quick work of cleaning up afterward.
“We cook a lot and this is a real working kitchen. It was set up so that we can continue to cook and still be part of the event,” Cloninger explains, with a gesture toward the adjacent great room.
A center island of stainless steel catches the eye, as do the rich cherry cabinets. The countertops are the ever practical Formica, which Cloninger cites as a deliberate choice. “It ‘s easy to clean,” she says, “and if you want to change the color or replace it, you’re not dealing with a huge investment.”
Just off the kitchen, an impressive collection of cookbooks greets one on the way to a lavish butler’s pantry. With its twin sets of marble countertops and custom cabinets, the butler’s pantry accommodates multiple warming pans and coffeemakers, and handily serves as a moving buffet for dinner parties and the like. Sparkling china is visible through the cabinetry’s bubble glass, and gleaming silver tea service adds a finishing touch.
Both the dining and living rooms are a study in soft pastels. The dining room’s pink wallpaper adds a burst of fresh color and nicely complements the series of three eye-catching Oriental-inspired wall paintings commissioned to Lincolnton artist Carroll Morrell. The room’s traditional furniture lends an enhanced sense of elegance to the space.
The living room houses its own set of traditional furnishings and exudes an aura of sophistication, which stems from the baby grand piano in one corner. The chic touch of sliding doors creates additional space and helps the flow of traffic during parties.
The combination library-den is a composition of polished wood tones. Built-in bookcases line all the walls save one, which showcases a stately marble fireplace in black, gray and white hues. The Cloningers’ love of nature is evident in the whimsical animal statuary and bird prints that accent the room. Vibrant area rugs grace the floors in the dining room, living room and library.
The master bedroom, also part of the main level, is equally light and airy, and features a small morning bar, spacious dressing area and the relaxing retreat of the master bath. With its large picture window, clean white lines and the ethereal yellow hue of the wallpaper, the bathroom is at once sun-drenched and soul-soothing.
“I do like yellow,” Cloninger acknowledges. “The older I get, it seems like the more color I want, and the more light I need.” The wall adjacent to the large soaking tub wall is lined with accent plates featuring a serene series of birds, a nice complement to the actual birdsong just outside the window.
At the opposite end of the house is a massive room which serves as combination workroom, laundry and sewing room. Given that Cloninger’s mother-in-law is Mary Jo of the legendary Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, the excess of space devoted to sewing is quite logical.
The home’s window treatments are all made of Mary Jo’s fabric, and Cloninger, along with Linda Hovis, of Lincoln Drapery, designed each one. Cloninger’s goal was to showcase her spectacular lake views as much as possible, so the treatments are bright, simple and lake appropriate. The lower level, for instance, features a series of full-length glass windows topped by covered cornice boards with a breezy fish pattern in teal, green and a hint of red.
In fact, it’s the lower level that allows one to indulge in true lakeside fun. With a wine cellar, second full kitchen, a half-dozen bar stools, pool table and a living area that boasts a stunning stone fireplace, it’s hard to imagine that this space could be topped. But just outside the series of glass doors, the lower terrace beckons, with elegant stone arches providing the perfect framework for the pool beyond. “If you’re here with a crowd of kids, adults can get out of the sun and the kids can swim,” Cloninger notes.