Visiting Ashley Gilbreath’s Lake Martin House
Designer based in Montgomery, Alabama Ashley Gilbreath developed a love affair with design at a young age. Gilbreath says that although she didn’t grow up with the fanciest things, her mother had an innate ability to make everything in their home intentional, thoughtful and beautiful, which inspired her mission as a designer to outfit the people to do the same at any stage of life.
Gilbreath’s latest project was for a growing family looking to revamp their long-loved vacation home on Lake Martin. While the idyllic property on a small, secluded peninsula on this huge lake had provided the family with years of memories, the house no longer met their needs. They outgrew the structure and were looking for something more appropriate for their growing family, which now includes grandchildren. The house still had to capture the essence of lake life, which meant it had to prioritize functionality and nothing could be so precious that it couldn’t resist a child in a bathing suit or footprints. muddy paws.
Clients started from scratch by tearing down the house and hiring McAlpine alumnus, Chris Tippett of TSB Architecture to rebuild a house that felt appropriate in its context while being elegant and architecturally stunning (Gilbreath was such a fan of his work on this project that she hired him to renovate her own home). Tippett says there’s been a lot of talk surrounding the old house on the property, which was a 1930s-inspired lake cabin, and while they’re ready for an upgrade, guests really wanted to bring in the simplicity of the floor plan and a laid back feel. from the old hut to the new house.
“What we try to do as architects is listen to our clients and give them a home that fits who they are,” says Tippett. “When it comes to the lake, I would say it’s very important to us to create outdoor spaces as well as exaggerated overhangs to protect you from the sun – and keep the sun out of the house – while allowing you to enjoy the view of the outdoors and the water at all times.The whole house is designed this way to allow you to have plenty of glass without being in direct sunlight.
Another top priority for Chris was to make the house completely out of wood so that it would be comfortable and only get better with age. This way it can take a bit of a beating and improve over time, so the family doesn’t have to feel like they have to tiptoe around the house and keep kids out of certain areas. . It also added some fun extra details, such as the panel wall in the living room which features a hidden door to the owner’s suite.
“One of the nicest things about Chris’ work is all the unexpected thought-provoking surprises around every corner,” says Gilbreath. “They don’t necessarily jump out at you, but when you take the time to really look, you’ll notice there’s so much amazing design in this house. We need to follow Chris’ vision and align with it in finishes and colors to make the house feel like it’s been around for a while, even if it also looks classic and timeless. The house is clearly new, but no one would walk in the door and think it was built yesterday.
Gilbreath spent countless hours selecting the right pieces that felt timeless, elegant and perfectly timeworn to prevent the home from feeling too formal or strained. The designer says this is one of the aspects that made the project such a fun experience because she could embrace the idea that the house looked like it had been intentionally loved and appreciated over time by the family instead create a perfectly polished aesthetic that didn’t reflect their warmth or the years of memories that have already been made on that plot of land. And every aspect of Gilbreath’s designs aimed to draw in as much of the outdoors as possible, from the color scheme to the floor plan to add to the sense of place.
“The house works so well, and it’s more than anything a testament to the architect and owners,” says Gilbreath. “Great views are captured everywhere in this home and there’s not a moment you could forget where you are.”
While choosing a favorite room in this home is nearly impossible for the designer, Gilbreath has a special affinity for the homeowner’s hidden suite. She says clients are often so afraid of major color contrasts in a room, but having such dark and rich walls allowed the beautiful pieces she collected to really shine. The designer also loves how the scale of the room has allowed her to create a cozy sitting area with an adjustable round table that can transform the desk into a quiet desk or an intimate dining table in an instant. While functionality remains of the utmost importance, Gilbreath’s collecting prowess and thoughtful sense of design create an equally welcoming family holiday home, serving as the perfect backdrop for holidays, long weekends and summer Fridays.
“We strive to ensure that each project truly reflects the client,” says Gilbreath. “I want someone opening a magazine or looking at a house tour to wonder who did this instead of instantly knowing it was me. We need to be complete enough to pull off any look, but every project should convey a sense of hospitality as soon as you walk through the front door. You should feel able to sit down, put your feet up and let your children color on the table. Ultimately, a house should be designed for real life, not for a magazine, and I hope any space you enter will be inviting and livable on all levels of life.
Lauren Wicks is Associate Digital Editor at VERANDA, covering design trends, must-have products, travel inspiration and entertainment. She is obsessed with globally inspired textiles, hosts French dinner parties and cocktail parties.