A few years ago, Laura and Jesse Hall found themselves at a crossroads. The long-time Smith Mountain Lake residents and soon-to-be-full-time retirees came to the realization they were ready to part with their lakefront property.
For nearly 15 years, the couple had enjoyed their spacious single-family home, which featured an open layout perfect for hosting frequent family get-togethers and neighborhood parties. The property also included a roomy dock with boathouse and extensive landscaping. Both are gardening enthusiasts but decided they wanted to scale back in retirement to free up time for other hobbies and pursuits.
The plan was to sell the lake house and build something more low maintenance on a golf course lot they owned at The Waterfront Country Club. The Halls would rent a condo, spend a few months planning the design, and then a year and a half or so on construction with a local builder.
That’s when a series of serendipitous events were set in motion that found the couple second-guessing their original plans.
“We listed the house and had a contract on it within a month,” says Jesse. “Luckily, we had a friend who owned a condo at Bridgewater Bay that had never been lived in and was available for rent. The stars aligned.”
For the next three months, the couple worked with a contractor to perfect plans for their new golf course home while enjoying the advantages of maintenance-free living at Bridgewater Bay.
“We had lived in a townhome for eight years before the lake house and were reminded of how much we like this lifestyle,” Laura says.
Jesse adds, “We also were reminded of when we built our last home and how it was the focus of our lives for two years—the designing, the building, the landscaping. Laura asked me one day, ‘Are you sure you are ready to do that again?’ and I said, ‘No.’ I realized I really didn’t want to take away from the hobbies I was enjoying and my free time.”
Time for serendipity to step in again.
What to Do Next?
The Halls decided to scrap their building plans, list the golf course lot for sale and begin looking for a maintenance-free property that fit the new lifestyle they had come to enjoy. It didn’t take long to discover there was a Bridgewater Bay villa for sale just down the hill from where they were renting.
“It checked off a lot of the boxes in terms of what we were looking for. It was the right size [approximately 4,000 square feet], the price range we were looking at, and offered ways for us to customize it to our taste,” says Laura of the four-bedroom, three-bath villa they now call home.
The main living area is on the first floor while an extensive lower level walks out to the back. Both feature outdoor living space, views of Smith Mountain Lake and loads of natural light. The exterior has a Spanish flair with red tile roof and brick paver driveway and walkway flanked by low-maintenance plants and stone instead of hardwood mulch.
With the exception of the lower level, which was completely unfinished, the majority of the improvements the Halls chose to tackle before moving in were cosmetic. The villa already had a number of upgrades, including a large marble stone fireplace flanked by built-in cabinets in the living room, stainless steel appliances and plantation shutters, crown molding, granite countertops and hardwood floors throughout.
In the main living and dining areas, the wall color was changed from tropical blue to a more subdued beige. Laura said she called on Randall Neely, interior designer and owner of Joran’s Interiors in Roanoke, to help with the design and accessorizing. Furniture was added in warm neutrals and jewel tones, highlighted with fabrics in chocolate and sienna colors.
The master suite now features soothing light green walls and a cozy sitting area. A distressed iron gate, found at a furniture store in High Point, North Carolina, makes a statement as a non-traditional headboard. There are individual walk-in closets and a roomy master bathroom with large soaker tub. To personalize the space, the Halls added new fixtures, lights and mirrors, as well as shimmery wallpaper in a leaf pattern.
The kitchen also is warm and open with ample storage space. Black granite countertops and brown tile floor and backsplash complement the decor of the adjoining living space. Down the hall is a guest bedroom, full bath, office and stairs leading to the lower level.
A Blank Canvas
The walkout basement, unfinished when the Halls purchased the villa, provided opportunity for the couple to create a large, open space to entertain family and friends. Descending the stairs, guests are welcomed to an area that’s a cross between a wet bar and a kitchenette. There’s an adjacent seating area with comfortable couch and upholstered ottoman. The rusty-brown colored floor is concrete with an acid etch finish and features a decorative inlay at the base of the stairs.
“We have huge family time down here, especially at the holidays,” Laura says. “There are about 20 of us so it really gives us a great space to spread out and enjoy.”
The space includes a workout/hobby room, roomy guest suite, living area with L-shaped couch and game table, a contemporary gas fireplace that hangs on the wall and a grand piano, which Laura plays frequently. A small patio provides seating outdoors with a view of the lake.
And while the home’s exterior and lawn maintenance are handled via a homeowners association, the villa allows the Halls to cultivate their love of gardening on a smaller scale. There are a variety of containers for herbs and flowers on the front porch, walkway, deck and patio, and the Halls both serve on the community’s landscaping committee, overseeing a variety of common areas.
Since retiring, Laura has taken up yoga, painting and playing the Native American flute. Jesse has found more time for golf, boating and tinkering with his 1951 Chevy, which he describes as a cross between a classic car and a hot rod.
“Before, we spent a lot of time on the house and in the yard—and on one hand that was very satisfying, but it sometimes meant we neglected relationships,” Laura says. “This lifestyle allows us to cultivate some of the hobbies we have or want to have. It’s been a great move for us.”