Were it not for a sudden bolt of lightning that struck a home perched on the shore of Lake Wylie, South Carolina, the modernist masterpiece that sits there today would never have been built.
The original home on the site belonged to George Shinn, former owner of the Charlotte Hornets. In 2008 a freak lightning storm burned the structure to the ground and all that remained was the pool and some of the concrete foundation. One of the next owners hired Charlotte architect Harry Schrader to design the modernist home of his dreams – but with the recession, he sold the property before starting construction.
Enter modernist enthusiasts Barry and Leigh Whaling, who bought the property in 2011 and — after minor alternations — began building the stunning wood and glass home from Schrader’s plans. Working during the housing bust made construction a breeze. What would normally have been a two-year project was completed in only one. “Materials were delivered on time and contractors were lined up at our door,” Barry recalls.
Despite its lakeside setting in the Southeast, Barry refers to the style of the house as Mountain Modern. “That’s what I thought when I saw the plans,” he recalls, “Wood and steel, thick walls, huge windows; what you might see in Colorado: A big view house.”
While the home’s contemporary design pushes norms in traditional Charlotte, (Lake Wylie straddles the North Carolina/South Carolina border and is within easy commuting distance of Charlotte) the house would not be considered edgy in the modernist vernacular of the Midwest or West. In the Charlotte area it represents a refreshing step into the best in contemporary design and lakeside lifestyle.
This Anchorage Road property sits on a point that juts into the lake, affording water-facing views from almost every window. Located discreetly at the end of a street, the exterior is understated; a simple driveway leads to a three-plus car garage from which a walkway continues to a windowed foyer showcasing a custom-made metal sculpture. Once inside a winding hallway opens into the expansive living room laid with gleaming Brazilian cherry hardwoods where views reminiscent of Lake Como take your breath away.
Curved floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the living room and into the open-concept kitchen where the lucky cook enjoys not only a stunning chef’s kitchen, but arguably the most panoramic lake views in the house. A multitude of discreet steel beams support the open floor plan and allow the windows to reach their 14-foot height visually unobstructed.
Between the kitchen and living room a nautical blue circular dining area features high ship’s windows and a custom chandelier that seems to shower light down to the table. Throughout the house curved windows and surfaces soften the large geometric planes.
Multifloor Master Suite
Far from being a simple three-story home, the design encompasses many level changes and surprising turns. Entering the master suite through a frosted sliding door your eye will catch a steel winding staircase ascending to a fully-equipped workout room that shares the same spectacular lake view as the bedroom below.
To accommodate a large master bath, architect Schrader put his engineering chops to the test, designing a cantilevered room that literally juts 25 feet straight off the second floor wall without exterior supports. The room has windows on three sides that allow light to filter in through the landscape greenery, creating a tranquil rain forest environment for a bather in the shower or tub. Large his and her closets connect the bed and bath areas.
In all, the house has 5 bedrooms and 6 ½ baths. A second master was designed with a partial wall behind the bed, which blocks off a vanity/dressing room and the entrance to the house’s largest walk-in closet.
An elevator was worked into the design to aid with the verticality of the structure. From the main floor you can take it up to the master bedroom level or down to the entertainment room. And speaking of entertainment…
Feature Rich and Entertainment Ready
Whether you have a busy family or a house full of guests, the 7,700-square-foot home is feature rich and entertainment ready. A discreet “media room” houses the four servers that control the home’s entertainment systems which include:
Whole-house surround sound with six separate music zones to create micro-mood zones, allowing for guests of different ages to enjoy their preferred music – all the way out to the pool!
Six wall-mounted TV monitors, including one in the master bath.
An entertainment room on the lower level that features a home theater with 3D projection, X-box, streamed content, TV and DVDs. Theater-style seating includes two massage chairs. This large room also contains a kitchenette, a pool table, and a wine cellar/panic room plus a walkout to the boat dock.
With the home’s generous size, it never feels crowded, even when the guest list gets long. The living room is expansive with a fireplace so large several people can cozy up on its stone ledge. The room wraps through the kitchen and out to a covered, screened porch where a ceiling fan cools temperatures in the Carolina summers. From there you can step out to an outdoor patio with a large fireplace for lakeside warmth on a fall day.
Cool at the Pool
Several steps down from this level is the swimming pool that seems to float above the lake. And what’s that colorful emblem rippling on the bottom of the pool? Original owner George Shinn put his signature on the house in the form of a Hornets logo (his beloved team) tiled on the bottom of the pool. The Whalings restored the pool and saved the vintage Hugo, which now is a fan favorite to everyone that visits the house.
Behind the pool tucked into a sheltered space against the house is a unique “ping-pong grotto” game room that also contains open guest cubbies stocked with clean towels.
Built to Endure
The lightning that took the previous house down will not strick again thanks to a network of over 14 lightening rods crisscrossing the roof. In addition, the home’s thick concrete and block walls, and steel structure are designed to protect against high winds.
The design incorporates state-of-the-art green features that ensure a future of energy efficient living. This home’s here to stay — and so is the sweet life!