Celia and Richard Truesdale started renovations on their home in the fall of 2003. Though they never anticipated the amount of time and effort the project would require, they kept their goal of maintaining the integrity of the home’s history while also creating a more functional living space for their busy lifestyle.
“We truly had a dream team working on this house, starting with Jerry Stevens of Shibui Studios who made the additions flow seamlessly from the original structure,” says Celia.
Greg Collins, the Truesdale’s contractor, saw the extensive five-year renovation through from start to finish. According to both Celia and her interior decorator, Carolyn Jennings, Greg is a master craftsman from framing to finishing.
“We couldn’t have done this without Greg and his attention to detail,” says Celia. “Greg’s son, Trevor, also assisted every step of the way.”
Evidence of Greg’s dedication to the project begins at the front door. Literally. A stunning piece of craftsmanship, the door is made of solid pine and is more than a century old. Framing the door is not the usual standard panels but the mantel pieces from several of the house’s original fireplaces. Paired with the door is jewel-toned stained glass, making for a striking entranceway.
A stunning piece of craftsmanship, the door is made of solid pine and is more than a century old.
“You can’t get this type of quality wood anymore,” Greg says.
Underfoot, the home’s entryway is made up of aged brick that once served as the two-story home’s pilings. New pilings were added to stabilize the house.
“Greg saved almost everything he removed from the house,” says Celia. “He assured me the original flooring and mantles would be reused. It was important for us to keep the historic character, but have all the functionality of a newly built home.”
Once through the Truesdales’ front entry, your eyes are immediately drawn to a massive wooden staircase and beautiful wainscotting. Chances are you’ll also be greeted by the couple’s friendly black labradoodle, Maggie.
“It’s a very comfortable, family-friendly home,” Celia says. “That was important to us.”
The rich wood that comprises the staircase’s wainscotting was originally found on the floors throughout the home’s first floor. Now, travertine marble allows for a quick clean-up on rainy days.
The judge’s panels on the staircase are also new, but were designed to look like part of the original home. As a matter of fact, the original home didn’t even have judge’s panels.
“Layers of paint and stain coated the bannister railings,” Celia says. “Hundreds of hours were spent stripping them to reveal the wood’s original color and finish.”
Just to the right of the entry is the couple’s living room—once the home’s dining room.
“This is the only formal room in the house,” Celia says. The sconces that adorn either side of the fireplace are original to the home.
“Greg added wooden back plates behind each metal sconce to cover the updated electrical boxes,” Celia says. “Our electrician, Henry Fouraker, rewired several of the original light fixtures throughout the house. The painter, Zoltan Kiss, refinished them to highlight the detail of the original pieces. We used an aged bronze finish to blend with the original hardware still in use throughout the house.”
The Truesdales’ impressive home features six working fireplaces, though all have been updated to ventless gas. Over the years the original chimneys began to settle, creating a safety issue for burning wood.
A declaration hangs on the wall of the living room announcing the home’s place on the National Register of Historic Places. The cozy lake house was once owned by Robert Bullock, a brigadier general in the Confederate Army.
Just off the kitchen is the couple’s dining room and family room—two rooms that serve as gathering places when guests visit or Celia and Richard’s three children return. Original exterior foyer doors now separate the newly added dining room from the family room. Another set of original doors, possibly once kitchen doors, separate the kitchen from Celia’s new office space.
“Our family room originally had only two windows,” Celia says of the family room. “The view of the lake is beautiful, so we added more glass to enhance the view.”
Out of sight behind the home’s wooden staircase is the Truesdale’s master suite. Originally the study, the first-story master bedroom is now a large and airy retreat. The newly built bathroom, with its travertine-stone flooring and peaceful feel, is the perfect place to relax. The most outstanding feature, though, is the mirror, uniquely framed by a former mantelpiece, including the slight charring from years of use.
As with many old houses, the staircase leading to the upper floor is both steep and narrow, a design element that wouldn’t pass today’s strict safety guidelines.
“Since it was an existing structure,” Celia says, “we were able to keep the original staircase intact.”
Once on the upstairs landing, it’s hard not to notice the home’s original heart-pine flooring. The character knicks and scratches could only come from years of wear and tear. Even the forged nails are visible. All of the original wood found throughout the home was refinished by Charlie Greene.
The home’s upstairs features two bedrooms and one of the home’s architectural highlights—Richard’s home library.
Done completely in pine, the two-story library is somehow cozy in its vastness. Hundreds of books line the walls and are featured on custom-made built shelves. A winding iron staircase climbs to the open loft above. The Truesdales also removed the ceiling to access the third-story attic, allowing for additional storage and space.
“We removed the plaster walls to expose the chimney in what was once a bedroom,” Celia says of the library. “The chimney is now exposed through both levels of the space and the mantle was crafted with brick from the original pilings. Greg used original heart-pine flooring for the loft sub-floor and left it exposed so we can enjoy the original flooring as part of the library ceiling.”
When the Truesdales went searching for their perfect home, one criterion was foremost on their list—location.
“We wanted to be on the water for a calm, peaceful setting,” Celia says. “While many use their lake home as a summer cottage, ours is our full-time residence. It’s wonderful to come home and feel like you’re in your own little world.”