It’s easy to keep look­ing out to

Cottages & Bungalows - - Cottage Kitchens -

new hori­zons when it comes to house hunt­ing, but if you’re like the Thomases, you re­al­ize the best place to be is where you came from. Christie and Rob Thomas grew up on Lake Wylie, on the bor­der be­tween North and South Carolina. “We knew we wanted to live on this same lake and cre­ate sim­i­lar child­hood mem­o­ries for our kids,” Christie says.

So in 2000, they bought a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, right near the lake they’d loved as chil­dren. Built in 1997, with four bed­rooms and three and a half baths, it has every­thing they’ve needed to raise their three kids, now teenagers.

“The builder wanted the lake to be seen from all the rooms in the house, so it was built with that in mind,” Christie says. “The house sits high on a small penin­sula, so this made it eas­ier to achieve the lake views.”

FAM­ILY FIRST

“There is a very dis­tinct smell to the lake and once it’s in your blood, it’s hard to de­part from it,” Christie says about the de­ci­sion to move back to Lake Wylie from Charleston, South Carolina, to raise their chil­dren. “We wanted it to be a place of nos­tal­gia for us and a place to make good mem­o­ries with them.”

Many of those mem­o­ries are made in the kitchen. The very first piece of fur­ni­ture Christie and Rob bought for the lake house was the kitchen ta­ble, a pine farm ta­ble. Over the past 18 years, the Thomases have im­bued it with his­tory, seen in the fork in­den­ta­tions and paint splat­ters that cover the ta­ble. “Sit­ting to­gether at the din­ner ta­ble is a pri­or­ity,” Christie says. “Our best con­ver­sa­tions and prob­a­bly the most laugh­ter have been in the kitchen.”

The home may look small on the out­side—only one story can be seen from the front en­trance—but a fin­ished base­ment added bed­rooms, a bath­room and a laun­dry room that of­fer the fam­ily plenty of space.

Other im­prove­ments over the years have in­cluded re­do­ing the fire­place in Colo­nial style, as well as ren­o­vat­ing the front en­trance. The Thomases wanted a larger porch and the abil­ity to open the doors and let fresh air in; the screened win­dows on the doors open up to al­low air flow even when the doors are closed.

“We are not a ‘take your shoes off at the door’ fam­ily,” Christie says. “We ‘live’ in the house, and most days it’s re­ally messy, full of our kids and their friends.”

Stor­age el­e­ments like the old bas­kets Christie col­lects serve a dou­ble pur­pose: to “cor­ral the mess,” as she puts it, and to add char­ac­ter to the home.

|OP­PO­SITE| LAKE LIFE. Christie and Rob Thomas grew up on the shores of Lake Wylie, on the bor­der of North and South Carolina. They wanted to raise their own chil­dren by the lake, where they en­joy all sorts of wa­ter sports to­gether.|BE­LOW| PORCH LIFE. The screened-in porch is the per­fect place to watch boats go­ing by on the lake. The Thomases some­times blow up air mat­tresses to sleep on the porch, camp­ing in com­fort.

|ABOVE| FALL FLOUR­ISHES. Pump­kins are quin­tes­sen­tial ac­cents for any au­tumn vi­gnette. With the va­ri­ety of sizes, shapes and col­ors avail­able, pump­kins can be found to suit any dec­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion.|ABOVE RIGHT| WARM IT UP. Christie says fall is her fa­vorite sea­son: “You’re so ready for a change; you’re ready for cooler weather.” Warm tones like cop­per mugs and red and or­ange ac­cents help usher in the sea­son of change.|OP­PO­SITE| STYLE WITH A STORY. In a home filled with fam­ily mem­o­ries, old meets new in the kitchen: The butcher block is an an­tique passed down from Christie’s mother, and the chalk­board, con­verted from an old Charleston win­dow screen, is a proud place for her kids to dis­play some cre­ativ­ity.

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