A Lake House, Reimagined


Written by Rosalind Fournier

Photography by Graham Yelton

For Noah and Alison Oliphant, their house on Wehapa Lake in Shelby County is like having a vacation home that’s just a 20-minute drive yet a world away.

When they first bought it a few years back, they found much to love—including two fully renovated master bedrooms, custom trim work and cabinetry hand-builtby a previous homeowner, lots of mature landscaping and, of course, the lake itself surrounded by friendly new neighbors.

7Still, they saw plenty of untapped potential for an updated exterior and a makeover of the property to maximize its use for entertaining. They envisioned outdoor living spaces, a pool, and better, more unfettered views of the lake. They also wanted to add a guest house, outdoor living spaces and a covered, screened-in space out on the dock for entertaining.

“I think we all understood that the outdoor space was was going to be one of the real focal points,” Noah says, “and our architect, Tyler Price, worked hard to make sure it met our needs.”

6Price listened carefully as they described  their vision and created a plan that included revamping the exterior of the main house, beginning with the back porch, which seemed too ornately designed for the house. “We took out all the columns and beams,” he begins, “and replaced them with an exposed, specially engineered beam supported by purposely minimal steel columns—reducing the number of columns from 10 to four. Then we added a cascading stair that’s continuous down to a lower terrace, so the stairs became place to sit and engage the lower terrace more.” The changes provide a clear view of the lake while giving the porch a clean contemporary look that falls in line with the Oliphants’ goals for the renovation.

11After adding an outdoor kitchen and a pool below, the next priority was building a guest house. Along with their own two children, the Oliphants have a large extended family and wanted lots of space to entice the whole clan to come and spend time together on vacations. So in addition to four bedrooms in the main house, the guest house allows them to accommodate even more friends and family. With its modern, modular-style frame, wall of windows and a slightly curved roof to add interest, the new, standalone structure also helps frame the property with an L-shape that creates a sense of spaciousness and definition at the same time.

Meanwhile, Price adds that the different elements of the home are tied together by the congruity of the updated, more natural material palette used throughout.

13“We didn’t want to force anything,” he says. “We wanted to emphasize the long lines and horizontal sprawling nature of the house, and we also wanted to introduce new natural materials to give it a material palette that feels right for a lakefront property. Everything was about creating new, free-flowing space, a natural canvas of materials, and embracing amenities that come with a beautiful lakefront lot.”

Price concedes that not every casual observer is going to notice the details that he or his clients, having been intimately involved in the process, get excited about when describing the renovation. But when guests come, it’s clear that they appreciate the results—whether or not they know the artistry, architecture and precision that went into making the Oliphants’ home feel just right for a long weekend of relaxing, sharing meals, playing in the pool or on the lake or just enjoying a glass of wine while the sun sets.

15“It’s really turned into a special time whenever the whole group gets together,” says Noah. “Spending Labor Day and Memorial Day here has turned into an annual tradition for all of the families and cousins to come together and have a really special family time. This year, my wife’s aunts and uncles and their families all came and used the house for Thanksgiving. And we’ve spent one New Year’s by ourselves just with the kids—it was very memorable to do the polar-bear plunge between the hot tub and regular pool in the middle of winter.

“So there have just been some neat times out here.”



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