A Redesign on Lake Norman
The team at Kathryn Lilly Interiors transforms a dated Tuscan-style home into a light, bright lakefront retreat
Angela and Robert Yates built their 5,000-square-foot home in a quiet cove on Lake Norman in 1998. They embraced the Mediterranean-inspired style of the late ’90s and early 2000s and filled the interior with scrolled ironwork, red and bronze walls, white columns, and dark-stained cabinets. It was an ideal place to raise their two boys, but after 23 years, the soon-to-be empty nesters were ready to give their home a makeover.
In early 2021, they hired the team at Kathryn Lilly Interiors to reconfigure the layout and brighten the decor. “I wanted clean, crisp, and white, without a lot of knick-knacks to dust,” Angela says. “I didn’t give them a lot of direction. We just didn’t want to lose the lake views.”
After their initial consultation, designers Leah Kleynen and Samantha Loxton gave their clients three options, ranging from minor cosmetic changes to a complete overhaul of the floor plan. The Yateses chose option three. “They didn’t even know the house had that kind of potential,” Loxton says. “They were overwhelmed after being in that house over 20 years and seeing what it could be.”
Kleynen and Loxton worked with general contractor Jack Schneider of Jack of All Trades on the yearlong renovation, which began in summer 2021. They ripped up the cherry-stained floors and put down engineered white oak, took down the wall between the kitchen and living room to let more light in, and painted the dark beige walls on the main and upper levels a crisp white. “We completely ripped out the fireplace surround and put in a cast stone fireplace,” Kleynen says. “Robert wasn’t a fan of a TV above the fireplace, so we introduced him to the Frame TV that looks like artwork when you’re not using it.”
They converted the old kitchen into a butler’s pantry, stretched the new kitchen into the former dining area, and turned the adjacent sitting room into a breakfast nook. To accommodate the new countertops and 48-inch range, they replaced the floor-to-ceiling windows with smaller ones, and the homeowners opted for a hood suspended from the ceiling to maximize the view. On the walls, they installed white shiplap.
The formal dining room became a casual cocktail lounge, and the foyer got an updated staircase and custom wainscoting. “The stairs make such a big impact,” Loxton says. “They wrap around, and you can see them from the living room.” They also replaced the front door and arched transom window with a black wrought-iron door that follows the same curve and admits more light.
Robert, who had recently retired, no longer needed his office, so they used that space to expand the primary bathroom. The team designed custom wardrobes for Angela with roll-out shelves and full-length mirrors on the doors. The natural-wood vanities have the same quartz countertops as the kitchen, and the porcelain floor tiles and white walls keep the room light and bright. In the water closet, they installed patterned wallpaper from Serena & Lily.
The footprint of the primary bedroom remained unchanged, but the homeowners wanted to brighten up the walls and upgrade from a queen to a king-sized bed from Charleston Forge. “Getting that into the room was tough because of the tight corners,” Loxton says. “It was tight on that wall, so the nightstands had to be very small.”
Throughout the renovation, the Yateses donated or sold all their old furniture except for a bed in their son’s room. “By the time we got done, they didn’t like that old style anymore,” Loxton says. “We introduced leather, linen, and wood tones. … They wanted to go all in with the modern farmhouse look, so everything is new.”
That look extended to the exterior as well. They painted the red brick a bright white and squared off the round columns framing the front door. The gutters and garage door also got a coat of black paint to match the shutters.
The Yateses lived in their basement during the renovation, which wrapped in September 2022. “It has a bar area with a mini fridge, and we cooked on a two-burner hot plate for a year,” Angela says with a laugh. “But it was amazing to see everything they’d picked out originally and watch it all come together.”
They stayed away during the three-day install, though, so Kleynen and Loxton could stage the big reveal. “It was hard to visualize what the end would be,” Robert says, “but the result is better than anything we expected.”
Angela jokes that a basement renovation is still on her wish list, but for now, they’re thrilled with their lakefront retreat. “Our boys love coming home,” Angela says. “Now they have more parties here on the lake than we do.”
TAYLOR BOWLER is the lifestyle editor.