Best New Home
The refined craft and relaxed charm of this lake house, designed by Birmingham architect Bill Ingram, sets a new standard for timeless Southern style.
The House at a Glance
Location: Lake Martin, Alabama
Size: 5,000 square feet
Builder: TCC General Contractors, Alexander City, Alabama; tcccontractors.com
Exterior: Alabama natural stone and cedar shingles
Roof: Cedar shake
Window, door, and shutter fabrication: Custom, JP Millwork, Wetumpka, Alabama; jpmillwork.com
This house's balanced symmetry, one-story form, steeply pitched shake roof, and bookending chimneys were inspired by Early American Colonial architecture. From there, architect Bill Ingram tweaked the home to reflect his style with asymmetrical windows, swooping roof overhangs, and serpentine-shaped brackets. Editor Lindsay Bierman says, "I love Bill's synthesis of formal Classical symmetries and romantic, picturesque elements."
Great architects give an old-home gravitas to their work. To replicate the way a historic house shows its lineage, Bill devised a plan that is non-formulaic. He constructed shingle-sided wings off the central stone structure to emulate a house's natural building evolution. Thick stone and textured shingles give it the heft and permanence of a much older structure. "It looks like a historic country house, yet it's new!" says Executive Editor Jessica Thuston.
Although the overall look and feel is traditional, Bill included a few minimalist elements for impact. "The foyer's stairs and bridge are modern in their structural honesty," says Bill. The graphic staircase adds a sculptural wow factor right inside the front door. He coated the wood-clad walls and exterior trim in glossy white paint (Benjamin Moore's Creamy White) to contrast with the rustic stone.
Bill tucked 5,000 square feet into three multidimensional sections: a gambrel-roofed main portion, four corner pavilions, and a rambling forward wing. "Breaking up the house into a series of small masses keeps the building from having any sense of pretentiousness," says Betty Dowling. In contrast with the more modest front, Bill designed an expansive, window-filled rear that faces the lake. Lindsay Bierman says, "The house makes a grand gesture to the view without showing off to the street."
Connection to the Outdoors
"I always design floor plans to pull visitors toward the daylight," says Bill. Here, the elevated entry and foyer give guests a straight view to the lake upon entering the front door. There are also three outdoor living spaces: a rear terrace, a screened side porch, and an open-air porch.
Reflective Kitchen Ceilings
Benjamin Moore's Galapagos Green in high-gloss oil coats the kitchen ceiling and reflects the water view just outside.
Collaboration with Local Craftspeople
A stickler for thin muntins (because they add authenticity), Bill hand-drew all the window designs for this house and partnered with Wetumpka, Alabama's JP Millwork for fabrication. All the stone in the house was quarried in North Alabama and cut by hand on-site. "Here in Alabama, we are very blessed to have tradesmen who realize that these are not catalog components," says Bill.
These cottage-style windows have a top sash that's shorter than the bottom—making them appear taller. Paneled shutters are outfitted with operable iron hardware.
Poured-concrete lintels hold their own weight against 3-foot-thick walls fabricated from Alabama-quarried stone. Together they give the new home an old-world feel.
This 6-foot, swooping bracket (one of several) is painted Benjamin Moore's Creamy White and frames lake views off the back terrace. "Anything smaller would have looked feeble," says Bill.
Instead of a standard shed, this French-inspired pigeonnier houses paddleboards and water skis. A brass showerhead and handle set adds patina to the outdoor shower on the wall.