Water's Calling

After selling her home on Bald Head Island, designer Lisa Sherry wanted another getaway home, but this time her journey took her to the lake.

LISA SHERRY LOVED HER HOME ON BALD HEAD Island. Tucked away underneath large oak trees strewn with Spanish moss and situated by a small waterway on the interior of the North Carolina island, the home was quiet, relaxing, and the ultimate escape. But after twelve years on the island, the designer decided to sell the home in hopes of streamlining her life. It wasn’t long, though,  before Sherry desired another escape from the city that wasn't a four-hour drive and ferry ride away. “I’d spent some time on Lake Norman and thought to myself, ‘What if I found something on the lake instead of the beach,’” she says. “I also thought, ‘How cool would it be to have something only thirty minutes away from my house?’”

The wheels were set in motion, and Sherry began hunting for the perfect lakefront home, a task that came with its own set of challenges. Lack of inventory for waterfront lots meant she would either need to raze an existing home or renovate it. But having renovated hundreds of homes, Sherry was not fazed by the idea. “I started looking and found this property on the water,” says Sherry of the stereotypical circa-1990s home with dark, dated finishes and a closed-off floor plan. “I knew I would want to renovate whatever I bought, so I was really looking for the right style of home and the right color roof and just the right location. I wanted to emulate Bald Head Island as much as possible.”

She closed on the home in late 2020 and started renovating in February 2021, which first meant tearing down several interior walls to open up the living spaces. “The kitchen was so small and closed off, so I removed the walls separating it from the living area,” she says. As well, Sherry transformed the fourth bedroom into an adjacent breakfast nook.

The arches that framed the windows in the living room and essentially impaired the views of the lake were removed and replaced with ten-foot slider doors that immediately brightened and opened up the living spaces and allowed for a seamless transition from inside to out.

Comfortable, casual, and ultimately relaxing were the tenets of Sherry’s design for the home. “I call my primary residence my city house, and this is my lake house,” she says. “The thread between the two is that I wanted this to be sophisticated but also a place you want to put your feet up and relax and unwind. A little looser, a little more free feeling here.” That casual, cozy vibe began with a neutral color palette on the main living space and a darker, new neutral in the downstairs entertainment and lounge area. The yin and yang of the home’s design is modern and elevated, giving visitors a unique experience in each space of the home. Sherry’s calling card of bringing interest to a home by way of various textures and materials is woven throughout.

The entire home was originally outfitted with plantation shutters, thus closing off the interior from the stunning water views. After removing the shutters throughout the home, Sherry installed an all-white neutral color palette layered with textured linen, chunky Moroccan rugs, and organic driftwood, all of which are balanced with more modern elements in the lighting and found objects and accessories. The Arteriors light fixture to the left of the newly remodeled and contemporary plaster fireplace doubles as a sculptural piece of art. Sherry designed a built-in floating bench, which she outfitted with a plush cushion and custom pillows for a quiet place to read with a lake view. “I love sitting there with a cup of coffee and a good book,” she says.

Downstairs, the vibe is decidedly different but ultimately the same in its sophisticated and comfortable approach, a hallmark of Sherry’s design. The dark, moody aesthetic complements the sleek, modern custom bar that she added and features black open shelving layered with vintage pieces and bottles of alcohol, which glimmer when the dim lighting hits. The fireplace received a makeover as Sherry stripped it of its traditional details and modernized it by plastering and painting it black to match the walls. An oversized sectional by Verellen provides a soft place to land after a long day on the lake, while the nearby pool table—left behind by the previous owner—serves as easy entertainment.

Though Sherry misses her quiet Bald Head Island beach home, she’s found the change from Carolina coast to lakefront  invigorating. “I need water in my life; it’s very calming to me,” she says of the move. “It’s so healing, and at this time in my life, I needed the simplicity of something close, something easy, something cozy and welcoming. This has been life-changing for me.”