Life on the Lake
Inspired by relaxing vacations, Jen and Grant Humphreys uprooted their family from big city life to become the first residents of Carlton Landing, a small lake community in Oklahoma.
For a time, Jen and Grant Humphreys' life in Oklahoma City was fairly ordinary. Her days revolved around their five kids; he worked long hours as a real estate developer. They spent weekends on Lake Eufaula, in the southeastern part of the state, and for longer vacations trekked to Seaside, Florida. But in 2007, Grant had a life-changing idea: Why not ask Seaside's architect and planner, Andrés Duany, to create something similar—a place embodying the same eco-friendly, pro-pedestrian New Urbanist design principles as the beach town—closer to home? The two assembled a group of urban planners and architects, and in 2012 the we'll-never-leave-the-city Humphreys became the first residents of Carlton Landing, an idyllic, new-old-fashioned small town based on big ideas.
Situated on just over 2,000 acres, the storybook town of Carlton Landing features 105 completed homes (the first of a long-term plan for 3,000), a farm, a community garden, and Oklahoma's first rural charter school.
Sense of Community
Inspired by the intimate communities of certain vacation destinations, such as Martha's Vineyard and Palmetto Bluff, Carlton Landing's planners designed rows of cottages on small lots to face one another across a scant 20-foot-wide gap traced by a pedestrian corridor.
The homes in the community are designed with porches to foster neighborliness. The Humphreys' (shown) is extra-inviting, featuring a 10- by 16-foot seating area on one end and an equally spacious dining area on the other.
The same native stone flooring used outside the home continues into the mudroom entrance, where it protects against soggy kids' shoes and muddy dog paws. Colorful artwork by the Humphreys' children sets a happy tone for the family and visitors.
Widely spaced horizontal planks carve out a "foyer" from a portion of the stair landing in the main living area. The red, Asian-inspired buffet pops against the stair landing niche.
Old farmhouses are chopped into many rooms. But this reinterpretation centers around a 40- by 23-foot living/dining/kitchen area to encourage togetherness. The area also opens onto the porch, a common feature in many Carlton Landing homes, so "passing neighbors can see life happening through the windows," says Grant.
With five children and an endless stream of neighbors, Jen wanted to be able to mingle while she cooks, so Craft and Schnell set the kitchen along one wall of the home's open living and dining area. Its simple, rustic materials—butcherblock counters, pale subway tiles, a versatile 14- by 4-foot island wrapped in the same whitewashed pine as the living area's walls—help it blend into the main space rather than overtake it.
Lake Eufaula is pretty much a playground for the local kids. The modern-looking planked sheds on this activity dock are filled with several ready-to-borrow kayaks and paddleboards.
Modeled after Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard, the community garden serves as a hands-on teaching tool for kids, as well as a place for neighbors to gather, connect, and get their hands dirty. (A separate, larger-scale farm supplies residents with fresh produce either by farm shares or a market that runs from May through November.)