From the Ashes: A Nature-Inspired Escape on Hyco Lake

An abrupt fresh start made way for a Raleigh family to build their dream lake house.
by Ayn-Monique Khlare / photography by Catherine Nguyen

In early June of 2018, Tony Frazier of Frazier Home Design met his clients on the site of their spec house on Hyco Lake. Embers still smoked. Days earlier, an arsonist had burned down the nearly finished structure, an act of violence that remains unexplained.

But from tragedy came opportunity: The homeowners were eager to move forward, and the complete wipe-out left room to reconsider everything from the floor plan to the siting to the architectural style. “It was literally in ashes, and the homeowners were in tears, but they wanted to work together to put it on a new path,” says Frazier. “It was very special, and I wanted to do my best to help them with their new home.”

“There were no personal artifacts, just sticks and bricks, but our kids were obviously upset,” says the homeowner. “We’re just so thankful that no one was hurt.” Lori Moscato of Raleigh’s Casual Elegance Designs steered the overall design of the new home and the interiors, aiming for a lake house feel with a modern edge to it, “more Tahoe than North Carolina craftsman.” Frazier helped her bring it to fruition. “We blended the standard lake house with the ultra modern stuff,” he says, “and built something where the lines are cleaner, and the proportions are more modern, but you still have many classic elements.”

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The build went quickly: Frazier had plans by September, they broke ground in December, and the family moved in by Memorial Day weekend of 2019. And by early 2020, with their two young teenagers in virtual school and isolation being the rule, this weekend house became the Raleigh family’s de facto primary home, a space where they could be together day after day, with the lake and surrounding woods at their disposal. “Living here, we realized we don’t want to retire to the coast or to Florida — this is our dream home,” says the homeowner.

In the front of the house, peaked gables have prominent corbels that play up their shape, and the cedar columns holding up the front porch are accented by gently sloped brackets for an unexpected softness. Through the front door, an expansive living area opens to a double-height wall of windows, topped with another peaked gable. Inside, Moscato combined a neutral palette — mostly white walls and black cabinetry, furniture in grays, blacks and whites — with natural elements. She drew from the landscape to pull in warm wood tones and woven textures, and chose accents that reflected the view: deep blues and aquas, leaf and lawn greens. Keeping the bigger-ticket items neutral was strategic. “You want to spend wisely — if my clients want to switch the color scheme, they can swap pillows and throw blankets,” says Moscato, who also recommends upholstering just the backs of chairs in a dramatic pattern, since they can more easily be reupholstered.

The more intimate rooms, like the master bedroom and dining room, commit to a little more color with walls painted lake-inspired shades of blue. “Every room in the house has a soft, natural feel,” says Moscato, who used reclaimed wood for accents like doors and headboards to lend the new build a “warm, rustic” feel. The home was built and furnished with an eye towards comfort and spending time together.  Throughout 2020, the family was grateful for a place to gather through strange times.

“It was down to ashes, but we built our dream home,” says the homeowner. “It has become our legacy.”