Pauli and I had been looking for a vacation home that we could enjoy with our three kids. We found a rustic 2,400 square foot cabin on Lake Sinclair in central Georgia that was desperately in need of a modern touch. It was built in 1988 and had some quirky architectural details. But the location was fantastic, and it had tremendous potential to not only be a great vacation home, but also an idea house where Pauli and I could put our combined skills to work. The home looked like an old loggers’ cabin, and the lake is often misty in the mornings, so we named our idea house Misty Mill.
Because it’s a vacation home, we wanted Misty Mill to be a cozy getaway with a “rustic meets modern” feel that wouldn’t require a lot of maintenance. Although we also planned an overhaul of the interior, the emphasis was going to be on outdoor living. After all, the whole point of a lake house is to enjoy the lake! I also wanted the new outdoor spaces to look like they had been built at the same time as the home.
I have a long-standing relationship with Belgard and have been installing their products for over 15 years. Their hardscapes look great and last. That’s why I knew Belgard would be the perfect partner for the outdoor living spaces at Misty Mill. The Belgard Design Studio even provided 3-D virtual reality renderings of my outdoor design concepts. These renderings are incredibly realistic. When you look at them through VR goggles, you feel like you’re standing in the completed space. Pauli and I could look at the designs from every angle and really get a feel for how our family could live in the outdoor spaces, which helped us make a lot of design decisions.
Porches & Outdoor Kitchen
The back of the cabin includes 1,000 square feet of porches with spectacular views of the lake. The wood deck had seen better days, to say the least. Since our primary goal was low-maintenance, Belgard introduced us to their sister company MoistureShield® composite decking. I put quite a bit of research into the products that I choose and compared their decking against other products. I learned that MoistureShield’s capped wood composite boards are protected by their DiamondDefense™ coating, making them more resistant to scratches and stains. In other words, these boards could take whatever abuse my kids could dish out. Plus, the MoistureShield Vision® line uses innovative CoolDeck® technology that can reduce heat transfer by up to 35% and protect their cute little feet on hot summer days.
Using the house’s foundation stone as a color palette, I selected the Mochaccino color of Vision decking. To add a modern twist, I bordered the deck with the darker Cathedral Stone shade. We chose cable railings for a contemporary look and to keep from obstructing the view of the lake.
The original kitchen design included built-in bar and grill islands, which would have been gorgeous. But I wanted a larger seating area and made some compromises to keep from overwhelming the space. I opted for dueling grills and a large table with seating for 8. The dining area transitions into a cozy living room area. I also included an outdoor shower with both hot and cold water to rinse off lake water and dirty feet. MoistureShield’s solid core technology creates an impermeable barrier to resist moisture, so I knew placing an outdoor shower directly on the deck would not be an issue.
Fire Pit Patio
Who doesn’t love hanging out around a fire pit, especially in the evening? I wanted to keep the fire pit close to the cabin where it would get more use and add to the view from the porch. When designing the hardscaped area, I chose natural stone and woodgrain textures to complement the lake view and surrounding woods. Belgard Mega-Lafitt® is the primary paver used. It’s a gorgeous modular paver that has the look and texture of cut flagstone. Continuing the design scheme of the deck, I chose the Ashwood color for the main field and bordered it with the darker Belgian Stone color.
For the center of the patio, I wanted to create the illusion of an outdoor rug, but in an outdoorsy way. Belgard Noon porcelain pavers created exactly the look I was going for. These plank pavers mimic reclaimed barnwood and are incredibly resistant to stains, fading and scratches. Red wine, hot Georgia sun, gooey marshmallows…no worries!
I incorporated landscape walls around the fire pit to define the space and create some built-in seating. The Belgard Tandem® Wall system is super versatile and has a chiseled stone look that complements the other materials. The Tandem® Column Kits made it easy to add dimension and a finished look to the seat wall. A built-in planter behind the seat wall gave us the ability to add organic warmth and house low-voltage lighting. Colorful in-ground plantings, container planters and landscape lighting give this outdoor entertaining space its final finishing touches and make the spot simply magical. Leading away from the patio, the continued paver walkway helps draw visual attention beyond the fire pit to the lakefront and boat house.
Sea Wall & Boat House
Originally, the property included a timber sea wall made of pressure-treated lumber that had deteriorated over time. We replaced it with a more durable Belgard Mega-Tandem® wall. Mega-Tandem has the same chiseled face as Tandem wall, but with larger pieces. The wall name comes from the construction design in that it is essentially two rows of plates that run in tandem with special connectors. The space between is filled with gravel for stability. Along the pathway to the dock, we included a beach entry to the lake to provide a fun space to get in and out of the water.
The original pier, dock and boat lifts were all in rough shape, so we scrapped the entire thing. The new 1,400 square foot dock is made of MoistureShield Vision. Not only does it visually coordinate with the porch deck, it’s durable enough to be used on and even under the water. This feature was perfect for what I had in mind – hydraulic lifts that lower sections of the dock into the water!
I’m all about creating multifunctional spaces. With my engineering background, this multifunctionality is usually achieved through some moving portion of the design. I wanted a way to enjoy the entire covered area of the dock without losing valuable space to boat slips. We engineered a solution to allow portions of the deck to raise and lower. This uninterrupted square footage of decking allows us to place a full dining table and outdoor living furniture arrangement under the shade. We lower the platforms to launch the boat or to give the kids a fun place to jump off and easily climb back up. MoistureShield was the perfect choice to make this happen. We found no other products that would stand up to the constant submersion.
The dock also includes an uncovered area with a sunning deck and dual slips for kayaks and guest boats. And since MoistureShield’s DiamondDefense coating also protects the decking from fading, I don’t have to worry about the sun bleaching it out. Plus, the CoolDeck Technology protects our bare feet.
Pauli, the kids and I are all extremely pleased with all the new outdoor living spaces of Misty Mill, and we are thankful to Belgard and MoistureShield for helping us make it the ideal place to come + enjoy and leave inspired!
For more on the Misty Mill idea house, visit www.mistymill.com.