An Alabama Home Where Rustic Meets Refined

It’s not all plaid and barnwood at this lakeside condo featured in HGTV Magazine. See how one homeowner added shots of posh to her out-of-the-way address.

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Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Finding the House

Georgia Carlee and her husband, David, hadn’t planned on uprooting their family of three to move to the shore of Lake Martin in Alexander City, AL. For 15 years the Carlees had been perfectly content with their life in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. But after their daughter, Caroline, was born, they began hunting for a weekend/vacation house in the Lake Martin area, a four-hour drive from their Florida home. That’s when Georgia became enamored of the family-oriented community. It wasn’t that the 2,200-square-foot condominium was in turnkey condition. In fact, the space hadn’t been updated since it was built in 1982. “Other buyers didn’t know what to do with it,” says Georgia, a designer who owns her own firm.

Although the unit had 27-foot ceilings (amazing, right?!), its two bedrooms and two bathrooms felt scanty considering the square footage. “I’m guessing people thought it was too small, but I knew we could get another floor in there,” she says. They also added shiplap to the walls and ceiling — plus plenty of modern touches that make it feel like a stylish year-round home rather than a rustic weekend retreat. “I purposely did not decorate it like a typical lake house,” says Georgia. “There are no ‘What happens at the lake stays at the lake’ signs here!”

Living Room

Because the condo’s living spaces are one open expanse, Georgia kept the color scheme minimal: White Dove by Benjamin Moore on the walls, some of which she whitewashed, and Heritage Red by Benjamin Moore on the interior doors. A leather Lee Industries sofa and a rattan Palecek chair with houndstooth cushions sit on a cowhide rug layered over an old multicolor striped rug. The room also holds a prized antique find: a 14-foot-tall bamboo ladder, which for the first time ever Georgia can display vertically. The white column lamps are from Pizitz Home & Cottage in Seaside, FL.

Dining Room

Square-back chairs upholstered in linen and leather and a leather bench surround a dinged-up farm table. The room is used for special-occasion dinners as well as crafts parties for kids. 


The old kitchen was small and dark, so the Carlees gutted the space, knocking down a wall and adding windows with front-and-center views of the lake. The island and the perimeter cabinets are topped with brownish gray quartzite, and the island’s base is painted the same shade (Heritage Red by Benjamin Moore) as the home’s interior doors. To counter the oil-rubbed-bronze knobs and pulls from Restoration Hardware, Georgia chose white opalescent tiles for the backsplash. The white faux-leather barstools are from LexMod. An antique “Rollercoaster” sign “describes our life in a word,” Georgia says. 

Master Bedroom

Georgia and David chose the smaller bedroom on the first floor because of its private deck overlooking the lake, then added a pair of windows above the Oly caned headboard to bring in more natural light. The rest of the room is a blend of new and old: The yew wood dresser beside the bed was snapped up at a fire sale in North Carolina, the Waterford crystal lamp on top of it belonged to Georgia’s parents and the rope-and-wood bench is by Four Hands. The throw pillows are a mix from CB2, Serena & Lily, and Pine Cone Hill. 

Guest Bedroom

This room boasts the house’s only colorful wall (Heritage Red by Benjamin Moore). Georgia had the headboard made at Ava’s Attic, a store near Destin, FL, that constructs furniture out of repurposed wood. The mirror next to it, with a peeled and chipped tin frame, is from Reclamations, a favorite furniture shop in Highlands, NC. The deer silhouette resting on top of the antique pine dresser is from Pickle Patch Market in Sylacauga, AL. 

Caroline's Bedroom

“Caroline is a girly girl who also likes to pick up worms,” says Georgia. The pink duvet and pillowcases satisfy the sweet, while the hand-me-down pine bed and the pale yellow vintage dresser give the room a slightly rougher edge. Georgia bought the Every Day I Love You wood print when she was pregnant with Caroline. The cubbies to the left of the hooks were built to max out the space, but they've turned into a favorite hangout spot. “Kids fight over who gets to be in there,” says Georgia.


Most of the ceilings in the house are shiplap stained Provincial by Minwax, but Georgia flipped the script in this space, staining the walls and painting the ceiling. A pebble-tile floor and a quartzite countertop add a little luxe to the room. The portrait of Georgia’s late mother, Judi, is for straight-up comic effect. “My mother had a big personality, and she always used to try giving this portrait to David with the joke that he could throw darts at it,” she says. “I’d like to think she’d find it hilarious that I hung it above a toilet.”


This space just off the kitchen gets more foot traffic than any room in the house. “I’ve had friends tell me, ‘I’ve never been in your living room,’ ” Georgia says. The Summer Classics wicker chairs have cushions covered in red Sunbrella fabric and are paired with royal blue patterned pillows from Lacefield Designs and Loloi. The coffee table (it used to be a horse trough!) stores the cushions and pillows at night, and the outdoor rug is from