A Modern Home And Landscape, ReimaginedMay 23, 2023 03:16PM ● By Lisa Lukecart
Photo by Daniel Mueller.
A dramatic weight loss. A disastrous break-up. A dream vacation. Such life events might prompt one to seek a fresh wardrobe or a stylish new hairstyle.
The new owners of a Bennington home felt the same about their lakeside retreat, deciding the residence needed an exterior makeover—an updated dress, per se—for it’s square-shaped body and lackluster landscaping to better suit their outdoor living needs.
Brian Kelly worked as the lead on the Bennington home build while with the firm Randy Brown Architects (RBA) back in 2008. The desired outer modification required someone with previous knowledge of the structural components who could appreciate the original design while still elevating it. Brian, alongside his architect-wife Andrea Kelly, stepped up to the challenge 10 years later to reimagine the outdoor space under their own architectural firm, AToM Design Studio.
Post-renovation, a floating silver canopy at the home’s entry now provides ample shade. Previously donning an all-gray shell, the home today features chocolate-colored rain screens along the front, adding a splash of deep color.
“It’s like giving it a new outfit,” Andrea said. “But the life of the house faces the lake.”
The previous occupants rarely utilized Bennington Lake, just feet away from the home’s back entrance. A sharp incline and a trek through lush grass made trips down to the water difficult—not ideal for the new owners, an empty-nester couple who hoped to soak in all the benefits of the lake.
“It was a huge compliment that [the clients] trusted us,” Brain said of the exterior renovation challenge. Freedom to design meant he wanted to exceed expectations.
The end product is striking while impossibly practical. Concrete steps blend utility and clean design to solve the issue of easier access to the dock. The off-set pattern allows guests to “experience” the downward trek, with each turn creating an altered vista.
Six-inch gaps on the stairway lined with gray rocks ensure proper rain drainage while enhancing the natural beauty of the steep incline. A steel-colored aircraft-cable railing increases safety and dimension along an ebony guardrail.
Pockets of perennials in the landscaping brighten the walk year round. ‘Royal Candles Veronica’ stun with bushy purple-blue spikes in late spring; ‘Firewitch’ pink dianthus smell spicy in early summer; and ‘Arctic Fire’ dogwood stems splash red against the house in winter. New Sweetgum, maple, and oak trees create focal points for fall color. Rectangular cut limestone slabs blend with native plants, such as transplanted switch and reed grasses. Pathway lights lead guests upward from the dock at night.
Each outdoor living area holds its own identity. The basement patio offers a relaxed vibe not only in appearance but in functionality. Enclosed storage for lake accessories adds convenience. Brian planned a unique anchor to warm up the area: a three-sided gas fireplace between l-shaped cement blocks on a bed of black stones, allowing a peek of the lake through a line of flames. Metal deflects heat from the concrete, allowing the two to tango. One might step into the hot tub with a drink on cooler nights.
Entertainment on the second-story deck showcases a striking view of the terrain and includes a spot to watch Husker games or grill out. Red cedar rain screens neatly hide a television using cantilever sliding-gate hardware, keeping it tucked away from the harsh Midwest weather. Rather than completely starting over, AToM extended the deck two feet for a kitchen area with granite countertops and ample sitting space. Shade, with ceiling fans, makes it all tolerable and intimate on steamy summer nights, while the fire table and heaters breathe coziness on colder days.
Vertical alignment extends the rain screen upward to an additional deck off the primary bedroom for a private niche that ties together the renovation and serves up the perfect spot for morning coffee while gazing at the lake. All of the pieces seamlessly blend together for a revamped modish façade.
This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.