This Lakeside Cottage Is Anything but Average

Photography by Kristin Vanzant

Text by Hannah Nance

When sketching out plans for Bobbi and Dan Oswald’s Tennessee lake house, designer Lauren Elder knew what they wanted was far from your average austere, all-wood space. “They wanted the house to feel very cozy and clean,” she recalls. “They kept telling me, ‘Please do not make this a traditional lake house.’”

Photography by Kristin Vanzant

With that in mind, Lauren got to work creating an original space with authentic touches that are true to the couple and welcoming to their many visiting family members. With a clean and neutral color palette, Lauren was able to play around with textures to add rustic vibes to the space, like bamboo shades, quartz countertops, and natural wood in every room.

Photography by Kristin Vanzant

With so much wood in the form of flooring, end tables, dressers, and more, it would have been easy for the house to be too rustic, like Bobbi and Dan feared. To combat this, Lauren chose a light-colored wood that blends in with the white walls more than it stands out. “Once I picked a wood tone, I just carried that throughout the house,” she says. “I stayed away from dark stains and kept things natural and light, and that helped the space stay bright and airy.”

Photography by Kristin Vanzant

Ironically, considering the homeowners wanted a lake house that was anything but country, Lauren used the countryside she passed on the drive to the house as her inspiration for the home’s design. Drawing on the fresh and clean notes of the surrounding nature, she kept a neutral palette and brought in pops of color in the form of florals and accessories, with a splash of blue to echo the water outside. “Everything on the drive is so wide-open, clean, crisp, and beautiful,” she says. “I just wanted the house to reflect the area and be a space to relax in.”

Photography by Kristin Vanzant

Lauren had another issue to combat in designing a lake house: excessive wear and tear. With Bobbi and Dan’s many family members visiting throughout the spring, summer, and fall, Lauren used light but durable fabrics from Sunbrella and linen blends to keep the relaxed feel. To make the space cozier, she opted for vintage-style printed rugs because of their inherent ability to hide stains so well.

Photography by Kristin Vanzant

In the master suite, Lauren continued the neutral color palette but in a softer, more subdued tone. Navy and royal blue fade into periwinkle lamps in the serene space. With light gray and white bedding and an area rug in the same hue, the rich hardwood floors take center stage in the space, bringing a much-needed warm and cozy touch. The lightly distressed dressers flanking either side of the bed add the slightest hint of rustic style to the bedroom for the perfect getaway.

Photography by Kristin Vanzant

With the open-concept design and ample seating, the house provides the perfect place for a weekend retreat for the whole family. And though the lake (and all the fun that comes with it) is the star of the show here, don’t let yourself think that this is just your average lake house.

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