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See How a 1970s Atlanta Lake House Became a Modern Haven

December 11, 2023

Sean and Sara Santoro found the perfect lakefront home near Atlanta in 2020. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, the Santoros turned the 1970s time capsule into a modern home with an open floor plan and views of the lake.

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Photo: Tomas Espinoza

Sean and Sara's Before-and-After '70s Lake House Reno

Sean and Sara Santoro undertook the ultimate pandemic project in 2020 when they decided to leave a small condo in downtown Atlanta and purchase a sprawling 1970s lake house in the suburbs that needed a complete renovation. The end result was a custom lakeside home with 2,000 square feet of space with plenty of room for entertaining both inside and out.

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Photo: Sean and Sara Santoro

The Compact Condo

When Sean and Sara met, she lived in a tiny 500-square-foot condo in downtown Atlanta. Downtown life was lively, but it meant Sean was commuting several hours a day. It also meant there was barely any room to turn around in their small home.

In early 2020, they realized they needed to move closer to Sean's job, so they began looking to get out of the city to an area that would give them equal commute times. Their search led them to the Atlanta suburb of Roswell and to a sprawling lake house that dozens of people were interested in.

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Photo: Sean and Sara Santoro

Before: Vintage, But Not the Good Kind

Sean and Sara found themselves in a bidding war on the day the lakeside split-level home hit the market, and they struck gold when their offer was chosen.

It was clear, however, that the 1970s home would need a total overhaul to make it functional and give it a modern look. The entire home was plastered with floral wallpaper and dark wood paneling that made the space feel small and dark, and the main living area was completely cut off from the kitchen by a large wall. Thankfully, Sean had a background in home remodeling from working with his family's business.

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Photo: Tomas Espinoza

After: Midcentury Yet Very Modern

The Santoros kept the exterior of the house largely the same, but they went for contrast, painting the brick white and the board-and-batten finishes darker.

"We really wanted to keep the charm and the midcentury modern aesthetic," Sara explained.

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