We recent stumbled upon the portfolio of Appleseed Workshop, an Alabama design/build studio with major style. We were smitten with this lakeside project, located on the high bluff shore of Smith Lake in Cullman County, AL. It’s perched about 33-45 feet above water level, depending on the day. It’s a heavily wooded area, which offers cover in the hot summers and sweeping views in the fall and winter. The clients had a thoughtful vision, one that only Appleseed could bring to fruition. We’re chatting with Appleseed’s head of architecture, Kyle D’Agostino about the process, as well as his wife Kathy – who assisted with the design.

Hi Kyle! Tell us about Appleseed Workshop — how does it differ from other design firms?
Appleseed is a true design/build firm offering value by combining the architectural design and general contracting disciplines under one roof – seamlessly. As a result, we can control the design outcomes, construction cost and overall project schedule that under the traditional design/bid/build model is constantly undermined. The consistent result in the design/bid/build model is that the design (that the client paid for) is not well executed, ends up costing more than predicted and is delivered late. At Appleseed, we control every aspect of the project allowing our unique design and custom fabrications to flourish without compromise while staying on budget and on time.

For this particular project, what did the clients have in mind? 
Their vision is what you see in the photographs, an open one story floor plan with a view of the lake (and less a view of the adjacent neighbors) that didn’t call a lot of attention to itself. As a weekend home at the lake, a maintenance free yet highly functional home was also very important. We took the client desires very seriously. Siting, orientation, exterior color, [and] window locations were all a result of the client’s expressed vision. A great example of combining all the desires is the exterior paint color. One color for trim and siding makes repainting easy (no cutting in), the color helps the home blend into the fall and winter environment, but also emphasizes the natural environment over itself in the spring and summer by providing a contrasting backdrop to emphasize the incredibly lush green foliage of central Alabama’s indigenous plant life.

Kathy, could you “walk us” through the space?
Maintaining a clean open space was our goal and trying to capture as much of the view on the lakeside of the house was important for us to achieve. Keeping the finishes minimal and the walls light in contrast to the dark wood was our approach to achieving this. All of the rooms have the same dark wood wall as an accent wall, with all of the surrounding walls painted a light color to reflect as much light as possible.

We love the piece above the mantel. Who is the artist?
Cecily Hill Lowe, a local Birmingham artist.

The nursery is still stimulating for little ones, but very “adult friendly”. How did you achieve this balance?
It is rather easy to maintain a sophisticated look in a nursery, as all a child needs in their infant to young toddler stage is a safe crib to sleep in and a soft rug for floor time. I have never been a fan of bold colors or plastic toys for babies, so in this room the use of soft colors in the art work and rug and the natural textures of sheepskin on the chair and wooden toys bring a peaceful, natural, clean environment that create a sense of calm, which I believe a child’s room should be since they have so much outside stimulation.

Do you have a favorite moment in the finished project?
We were pleased with the fluid geometry of the interior and exterior spaces, [as well as] the with the large iron chandelier in the dining space. It was a perfect complement to the geometry of the house and its size and weight are a nice anchor in the center of a rather large room. It also brings a rustic vibe to the space with its color and texture and so complements the other “rustic” elements throughout the house such as the slate fireplace, wood accent walls, sliding barn doors.