Written by Lindsey Osborne
Photography by Edward Badham
Dr. Brent Barranco and his wife, Kim, have always wanted a getaway at the lake. In 2010, they made the dream a reality when they purchased the perfect place for their family, which includes four kids, plus lots of friends, to escape at Lake Martin. They’d found a house where the lake was just a few feet away and everyone could play in the water all day long. “My wife and I both grew up in Montgomery going to the lake during the summertime,” Barranco says. “We had many fond childhood memories [of being at the lake] and always wanted to have a place of our own to build memories with our own family.”
They chose interior designer Marianne Strong, of Marianne Strong Interiors, to transform the house they bought into a chic but kid-friendly oasis. And that’s just what she did. But the very same day that the painters finished, the house was completely demolished by the April 27, 2011, tornadoes that tore through Alabama. “Do you see how you have a clear view of the lake?” Strong asks me during my tour of the Barrancos’ new home, which she designed as well. We’re standing on the front porch, with the lake clearly visible on three sides of the house. “With the first house, I didn’t even know the lake was on this side. There were too many trees. But the house was in the direct path of the tornado, and now most of the trees there are gone.”
The Barrancos were saddened, of course, both to lose their home and to witness the destruction that day. But they chose to build a new home in the same space, and this time, they were able to completely customize the house from the ground up. “It was a total loss,” Barranco says. “However, God is good and allowed for us to rebuild the house and expand it to meet our needs.” The rebuild took about eight months and was completed in 2012.
Their efforts produced a house that is both perfectly serene and expertly functional. The living areas are combined into one large space, which makes entertaining friends at the lake effortless. “Our vision for this home was to have a place to build great memories with our family. We wanted it to be welcoming and friendly to any friends who want to come. Having four kids close in age (currently all teenagers), we needed a place that would accommodate them and all of their friends both now and in the future,” Barranco explains. “We enjoy spending almost every weekend during the summer at the lake and spend a lot of weekends watching Auburn football there as well. As we are Auburn fans, we hope that this will be a good family meeting spot when our kids go off to college at Auburn. The most important thing for us is that this is a place where everyone is welcomed—and relaxation is key.”
Their intention to open their home to many friends is obvious in the house’s design. A generous pantry and laundry room and lots of extra storage areas throughout are perfect for getting loads of wet towels refreshed quickly and feeding the masses. A stately deck provides a stunning view of the lake, as does the Barrancos’ private porch off the master bedroom. Aesthetically, the couple charged Strong with fusing their two very different styles: Brent tends toward dark features similar to those found in mountain cabins, and Kim is drawn to the light, airy feel you’d find at the beach. Thus, their living spaces boast dark wooden beams juxtaposed with bright, white shiplap on the walls—it is truly a seamless union.
In the basement, the functionality of the home is even more obvious. The “bunk room” houses not just bunk beds, but four sets of them, which provide space for the Barrancos’ three sons and all of their friends (their daughter’s room is upstairs.) There’s an additional kitchen so that the kids can get their own snacks, plus a TV space and direct access to the dock outside. “With the ages of our kids, it is quite busy. From swimming in the lake, riding in the boat, wake surfing, playing basketball and ping pong, having extended family over for meals, and entertaining up to 15 teenage kids (most weekends!), there is always something going on,” Barranco says. “Many, many memories are being made, and we could not be happier or more appreciative.”
“Luckily, they were all safe, and that’s all that mattered,” says Strong of the tornado. “And in the end, house-wise, it was kind of a blessing. They got the most beautiful house.” The Barrancos agree—they see many more years’ worth of memories being made in the house: “We plan to watch our kids grow up in this home and one day fill it with our grandkids.”