On the banks of Lake Oconee—a charming community about an hour away from Atlanta—this modern home is the best of all worlds. There’s effortless indoor/outdoor living, and a mix of styles that might seem like an oxymoron at the start but work well. Designer Jessica Williamson of JTW Design describes it as “mountain coastal” – and it’s a mix of fresh, clean lines with rich textures.
Her clients, the Sloan family, chose Lake Oconee for their vacation home due to its proximity to Atlanta, where they reside with their teenage daughters. Long term, they plan to move to the lake full-time when their children are grown, a goal that greatly influenced the planning and design of the home.
Factors that affected the design included the Sloans’ request to have the home completely finished prior to move-in, with no detail left incomplete. And given their busy lives, the home needed to function as a space to relax and maximize fun. Great attention and planning were made to ensure the home was fully stocked and complete upon move-in; from the Brooklinen bedding bundles chosen to the robes selected for each bath as well as selective art and decor. Jessica worked with the Sloans to make sure their home reflected their needs and styled their home in a very intentional and functional way. She tells us more.
At first glance, this home has the perfect location. What can you tell us about it?
The home is situated on the banks of Lake Oconee in Georgia, a little over an hour away from Atlanta. The house boasts direct access to the lake so outdoor living was as much of a priority as the interior. There are three outdoor spaces: an upper lounge that directly connects to the dining area and primary bedroom and provides incredible views given the vantage point (making it perfect for a glass of wine at golden hour), a lower, covered dining area directly adjacent to the lower lounge making it perfect for retreating from the sun for a meal, and a large lower lounge which houses an incredible built-in fire pit.
For the exterior, we selected the Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain color for its warm undertones which played nicely against the stone facade. Taking cues from the landscape, the color story allows the home to blend into the trees from the street side while creating a prominent feature from the lake.
What was your scope of work?
We were lucky enough to start this project at the phase where the draftsman had just completed the second round of plans. We were able to test fit cabinetry and furnishings to make plan adjustments before the permit plans were created. We were greatly involved in the exterior materials, entry roof lines, and finishes which opened up a fully immersive design experience for us. Being a part of a home design from the ground level and working with a collaborative team make for the best projects. We selected each architectural material, custom designed the cabinetry, made each furniture and fixture selection, and finally styled the home.
Do you have a favorite room in the house?
One of my favorite parts of the home is the primary suite. We modified the plan to ensure that the primary bed faced the lake, giving it one of the best views in the home. We also took great care to design the bathroom in a way that made the most use of the space while creating a spa-like environment. Even though this home was to be used first as a vacation home, we knew that eventually, the homeowner would need closets for everyday use, so we designed the bath with custom built-in closets for her and a traditional closet for him, making the most use of the floor plan.
The home, while modestly sized, has many architectural details that make it feel grand. From the elongated arched foyer to the open main floorplan and large floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room, to the vaulted great room and primary bedroom, and finally the interior stairway, the home has the perfect balance of breadth and efficiency.
For an added twist…this project was done completely remotely! What was that like?
Having never met the client, or contractor and never having seen the site in person made taking on this project quite a task. Clear and intentional communication, detailed drawings and specifications, and an incredible project team were the tools that led to the success of the project.
To this day, we have not met the contractor or client in person and have only seen the home once (when we went to photograph it). The design of the home began in October 2019 and the plans were well underway by the start of COVID. We had always planned on designing the home remotely so when COVID hit, it didn’t change our process, however, lead times and material delays did affect the speed at which the home was completed. Making sure the scale of each selection was critical given that we physically could not “feel out” the space. We relied on our drafting skills and knowledge of materials and scale to ensure the home would render properly.
Even with such smooth processes, it was likely stressful for all parties!
Our clients were incredibly patient and kept a positive attitude through the entire process, as did the contractor. Everyone worked with the same goal; to create an incredible home for an incredible family. It sounds simple, but when a team all works for the same goal, magic happens.
Remember that goal of having the home compete before they moved in…well the trick for that was mounting furniture lead times. We were incredibly lucky to place the order for the family room furnishings the week prior to when Moss Studio suspended their quick ship program. There were a few items that arrived well after the move-in date, but the majority of the pieces, the ones that truly allowed the owners to use their new home at the start of the season somehow made it.
Fully designing a home remotely tests the limits of your design process. Going through this project gave us the ability to modify how we work in a way that was meaningful and provided lessons we have carried into future projects. It’s amazing to look back and see the growth our studio went through during this build.