A Waterfront Haven Seven Lakes West Home on Annual Tour
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
Tim and Sonya Koehler's charming brick residence is located at the end of a sweeping driveway overlooking Lake Auman in Seven Lakes West.
This house is a genuine prize on the 18th annual Kitchens ... and Moore home tour, sponsored by the Moore County Extension and Community Association.
Proceeds of the tour, being held Thursday, Sept. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., benefit the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina Inc. and other area youth groups.
What makes the Koehler residence a special attraction for the tour is that Tim and Sonya Koehler, who have owned a kitchen and bath design business, collaborated recently on a redesign of their own kitchen, applying their abundant store of creative ideas and list of resources into a dramatic makeover.
Tim describes the style of their home as traditional but with some of the touches of an English or French cottage.
"We bought it 12 years ago as a weekend retreat, while we were living in Greensboro, and it has been our year-round home for the last seven years," Sonya says. "During one of those weekends we had guests who were so taken with the place that they suggested that we should be living here on a full-time basis. That started us thinking, and before too much more time passed, we arranged to make the move."
A striking view of the lake captures the attention of visitors the moment they walk in the foyer. The living room, with a cathedral ceiling and a comfortable leather seating arrangement, shares the lake view with each of the other rooms in the house, and a screened porch with two ceiling fans stirring the breezes stretches the length of the room.
Tall shelves with family photographs and interesting objects picked up from their travels, like a carved bird from the Outer Banks, flank a Bob Timberlake snow scene. On the facing wall, a magnificent reproduction of an antique bookcase resting on elaborate cabinetry holds a collection of imaginatively created birds, fish and a delightful hand-carved otter. Among the pieces are two delicately painted porcelain birds done by Tim's grandmother, who was an artist. She also did the remarkable portrait of an actress playing Shakespeare's Portia, which hangs nearby.
A fascinating exhibition of family photographs and images adorn a wall naturally lit from two highly placed dormer windows. A parade of ducks occupies space on a ledge along the stairs leading down to the lower level. However, these aren't just any ducks - they have all been fashioned from golf club driver heads and hand painted.
During the time when the home was a weekend retreat, Tim had a pool table set up in what was the dining room.
Sonya says, "Once we made it our year-round residence, the pool table had to go."
Of special note in the casually elegant setting for six or eight is a rectangular wall hanging in tones of green and rose opposite a sideboard with built-in wine storage.
The redesigned kitchen is a showpiece on its own. The original awkward layout was revamped, and an impressive center island presents an expansive surface for food preparation as well as for entertaining purposes. Topped by unusual leather-finished granite in tones of gray, gold, brown and black, the island also provides copious storage areas and a dishwasher in its base.
Off to one side are a built-in refrigerator and a hutch-style cabinet, below a band of ceiling-height windows. Diagonally placed in a corner is the cooktop with a curved concrete hood from Mexico. A pair of colorful roosters accents the tiled backsplash.
Sonya's collection of birdhouses offers an exceptional decorative effect along the top of well-placed cabinets done in antique white with inset doors.
A low breakfront containing an assortment of treasured crystal pieces was one of the couple's wedding presents. Providing a distinctive contrast to the cabinetry, Tim points out, "It breaks up the sameness, and gives a different feel to the room."
An informal setting for breakfast and lunch overlooks the lake, and is enhanced by what appears to be a small fireplace.
Tim explains, however, that it is an imitation, "a concoction that we dreamed up. We needed something to dress up the wall, and we found an old mantel in an antique shop in Cameron, which I stripped and refinished. I added the front to an authentic gas fireplace that we discovered on another antiquing excursion, and I used brick facings as fill-ins."
A unique mantel clock made from a hunting horn nicely complements the equestrian theme, contributed by artwork of the likenesses of Sonya's two horses. She stables them at a friend's horse farm on Youngs Road and tries to get in a ride several times each week, an activity she has pursued since she was in school.
A powder room on the main level carries out the equestrian theme, with deep red walls decorated with images of horses. An interesting piece is a vanity with an antique copper sink, made from a single cabinet that Tim and Sonya had when they first started in the kitchen and bath design business.
Also on the main level, the master suite has a definite Southwest flair, to which Sonya added a cedar chest made by her uncle. The piece fits perfectly with the finishes of the bed's headboard and footboard and the matching chests.
The master bath is a "work in process," Tim says. "We will probably leave the shower as is, but eventually we are going to redesign the vanities and some of the other elements."
The interiors of the home are a melding of the talents of Tim and Sonya. He holds membership in the American Society of Interior Designers and she was an active partner in the kitchen and bath design company that they recently sold.
Subsequently they started a new company called ReBath with locations in Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington.
Their two sons manage the business, and Tim says, "I manage the managers." He works out of the house in a lower level office and is on the road a couple of days during the week.
Sonya is the epitome of a multi-tasker, handling the financial side of the firm from her own office off the kitchen, which also contains a sleekly designed washer and dryer tucked under a counter. She smiles as she describes how she can write checks for the business at the same time that she does the laundry.
Lower Level Living
The great room on the lower level also has a dual purpose - it serves as a mini-gym for Tim and his exercise equipment, and for the times when any or all of the couple's six grandchildren visit, there are wide shelves laden with all sorts of toys and games.
The space originally taken up by a bar and second kitchen has been transformed into Tim's office. Tim's penchant for anything to do with Andy Griffith is borne out in a full display of photos of the legendary actor as Sheriff Andy Taylor, complete with the keys to the jail, an old-fashioned typewriter and telephone - models of the ones used by Griffith in his long-running television show. Around a corner stands a vintage wall telephone belonging to Sonya's grandparents, and beside it is a well-preserved gun cabinet built by Tim's father, now housing his father's padlock collection.
On either side of the great room is a separate guest bedroom and bath. One with pale yellow walls has a seashore/lighthouse motif, with mementos of the house that the couple used to own on the Outer Banks.
On the opposite side of the great room, a gaily decorated bedroom reminds one of Key West. Both of the lower level bedrooms open out onto a walkway leading to the well-manicured lawn area, which stretches to the water's edge.
The familiar real estate mantra of "location, location, location" aptly describes the Koehler property, and Tim and Sonya take full advantage of their wonderful waterfront setting with a boat, kayaks and two dogs that patiently wait to take a daily swim along with their owners.
On the day of the tour, Chris Lamers, of the Bone-fish Grill, will be serving -portions of the restaurant's signature corn chowder from the Koehler's kitchen.
Tickets for the tour are available on that day for $20, at The Village Chapel and all homes on the tour, with the exception of the Oleson home at the Country Club of North Carolina.
"You must have an advance ticket in order to enter CCNC," says a spokesman.
Tickets may also be purchased in advance for $15 from The Faded Rose, Daphne's Hallmark, Seagrove Candle Company, Phoenix Fashions, and the Cooperative Extension Office at the Moore County Agricultural Building in Carthage.
For more information, call the Moore County Cooperative Extension Office at (910) 947-3188.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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