Lakeside Retreat


– Fresh colors and comfortable furnishings come together for a seamless design

– Written by Maggie Griffin

– Photographed by Brian Bieder –

As an interior designer, some of the best moments of your career are defined by ambitious projects and memorable clients. So, when a couple who has spent their careers building custom homes for others invites you to help appoint their own luxury weekend retreat at Lake Oconee, you accept the challenge.

On this ground-up new build completed last summer at Reynolds, Lake Oconee, I was able to work on all construction aspects to help the owners determine all interior finishes and furnishings. The expansive home features a large entertaining space, bedrooms for each member of the growing family, en suite bathrooms for guests, and ample outdoor living spaces.

The homeowners knew they wanted to be near friends and family on Lake Oconee. Boating, being near the water, hanging out by the pool, and spending time with guests is all a part of their lifestyle. They enjoy wakeboarding, skiing, and sunset cruises around the lake.

They found a lot they loved in Reynolds, Lake Oconee, and a six-bedroom house plan that worked perfectly on the land. The comfortable vibe of Reynolds suited the family to a tee. Last summer, Bowen Custom Homes completed the weekend home that they now enjoy with their son, daughter, son-in-law and young grandson.

For me, working with the owners on their design was like hanging out with friends – having fun choosing finishes, fabrics, and furnishings. We spent countless hours at Scott’s Antique Market, The Merchandise Mart, ADAC, in my office, on the phone, and over email shopping for exciting accessories to complete the spaces.

We decided to shiplap all of the main living spaces – the entry, living room, kitchen, and back hallway, all the way up the staircase, and onto the upper level landing – creating a cohesive look throughout the home. The beam work in the living room is a nod to the rustic vibe, as well as the shingles used on the façade and the stonework around the front steps, and pool area.

Being custom homebuilders, the owners naturally brought their amazing taste to the whole building process. Working with them on their own weekend home allowed my little dreams to become a big reality with ease.

 Lakeside exterior:

This combination of finishes gives the home dramatic appeal from the curb or from the lake. The shingles, the stonework, the millwork, and those big lanterns on front really elevate this house, but keep it from looking so brand-new. I love a house that has this kind of permanence. It’s welcoming from the street and has ample parking for tons of friends and family.

Friend’s Entry:

This is the back “friend’s entry.” The chest serves as a place to drop your keys or purse. The round window makes me happy, and the lamp light at night is so charming. We included the fun, colorful art pieces from Dorothy Shain, via Julie Wynne Jones Art consulting. Julie has a repertoire of amazing pieces, and in this home, she helped me place both the Lulie Wallace and the Dorothy Shain pieces. The mix of both sisal and antique runners keeps a casual vibe – nothing is off-limits or uncomfortable.


Living Comfort: 

Our goal was to have as many comfy places to sit as possible. We designed two custom sofas from Lee Industries paired with four swivel chairs that allow you to be connected to the kitchen or angled toward the television. A large coffee table, sturdy enough for feet to be propped on, anchors the room. It provides a place to land a glass, prop your feet up, or to rest a charcuterie board when company is over. The homeowner and I share a love for blue-and-white porcelain, so we added the heavy garden stools for an additional place to sit a phone or glass.

Dining Ease: 

The homeowners and I had a ball scouring Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta for fun pieces like the dining table and comfy chair to seat 10 comfortably. The custom oyster watercolors in this space are painted by my friend, and talented artist, Leigh-Anne O’Brien, of Gainesville. O’Brien has an art degree from The University of Georgia and her mediums range from bronze sculpture and watercolors, to pottery and acrylics.



Cook’s Kitchen: 

The kitchen is truly a cook’s kitchen, with plenty of work space and an island ready for finger foods, plenty of vino, and gorgeous stems for any gathering. We made it as large as possible for the space so the homeowners can seat many people in bar stools. The two sinks are practical and there are multiple trash compartments. The two bars (one a wet bar and one a dry bar) to the left and the right facing the kitchen, are connected by a walk-through utility pantry with commercial ice maker. The pantry is hidden behind the large range wall, and serves as a fantastic spot to drop groceries when you arrive for a holiday weekend. We kept everything clean with white quartz counters, white cabinets, and white backsplash. The lanterns over the island from Visual Comfort Co. added a fun patina to the room without standing out too much, as do the woven barstools.

Breakaway Bar Area:

This little spot is also connected to the back loggia entrance. Equipped with two fridge drawers, a wine cooler, and bar sink, it’s nice to be able to pop in this little space from the pool deck without having to enter into the kitchen.

Poolside Lounge:

This oversized table was a custom piece from Scott’s Antique Market. It has a wood base with a zinc top that will patina with time and wear well in the outdoors. The comfy woven chairs serve a lingering environment – who would want to leave this comfy dinner table? In the fall months (and let’s face it, many of the winter ones too), it’s mild enough to dine outdoors, sans mosquitoes.

Powder room:

We were so excited about using this fun, happy, Chinois blue-and-white wallpaper for the powder room. We loved it so much, we carried it into the laundry room as well. The contrast trim color, a shade of blue-green, is a nod the lake atmosphere. F.Schumacher has many happy prints, and we are thrilled with the wallpaper here.




Ninety percent of this house is painted a gorgeous shade of white. So, in the master bedroom we went with a shade of lavender-grey that changes with every time of day depending on the sunlight. The subtle sheers on the windows accentuate the lovely view, and the bed is crowned with a fabulous Lulie Wallace lily pad painting. Fluffy, white bedding makes you want to jump right in, and we couldn’t help but add a pair of our favorite blue and white Chinois lamps for a touch of tradition. 

Gray Bath: 

One of my favorite things to do in houses with lots of bathrooms is to incorporate fun wallpapers and contrast trim colors to keep them from all looking alike. In this one, the subtle lattice pattern on the wall is contrasted by the grey-green paint for the cabinets and millwork. I love the pop it gives to this nice guest bath. In the other baths, we used graphic papers in shades of brown, navy, and taupe with white cabinetry and white countertops.


Guest bedroom:

This space is truly a guest suite. If I stayed here, I may never leave! We wanted the homeowners’ daughter to have a restful place to retreat as well as a place to relax with her young family. Here, she and her husband can wind down in the afternoons, she and her young son can read books, or take a quiet nap. The room has an extraordinary vaulted ceiling, accentuated by a large nickel lantern. For the upstairs bedrooms, we incorporated artists such as Leslie Grainger, Marquin Campbell, and Hayley Mitchell.

Game Room:

On the chance that the homeowners are entertaining and a heavy rain rolls in, this game room space gives them a fantastic alternative to “stay in.” A custom shuffle board table, a giant sectional, pool table, and gaming station provide the perfect place to still have fun, no matter the elements outdoors. We grass-clothed the whole room, for both the texture and the sound absorption, which helps to play up the verticality of this room. No one expects this gorgeous vaulted space at the end of the upstairs hallway. It definitely has a “wow factor.”


Bunk beds:

We carved out this space for a little spillover company, and perhaps, more grandchildren. The twin beds are connected by a central staircase. We used a favorite Serena & Lily wallpaper pattern of mine for a little playfulness. All of the bedding in the house is Pine Cone Hill by Annie Selke with colorful custom throw pillows.

  • Maggie Griffin is the principal designer at Maggie Griffin Design, based in Gainesville, where she shares her home with her husband and two young sons. Maggie’s projects, both residential and commercial, are concentrated in Northeast Georgia, but expand to North Carolina, South Carolina, south Georgia, and Florida. com

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