Coming Home: Davis house creates retreat filled with memories

Story by Pamela A. Keene  

Long before Lake Lanier came into being, Debbie Lawson Davis’ family owned about 100 acres in Northeast Georgia. Her father had traded it for the installation of an air-conditioning system in the mid-1940s.
Little did the family know that 44 acres of the property would be used to build Lake Lanier within the next decade. That left the Lawsons with 66 acres on Lanier and a small cabin that the family used as a weekend retreat while Debbie was growing up. Two California redwood trees that Debbie and her father purchased as seedlings on a family vacation when she was 8 years old now provide deep shade and fond memories.

“By 1974, my parents had built their final home on the land near Little River and lived there full time,” Debbie says. She and her husband Vince Davis built a home on the compound, but after her mom passed away, they decided they didn’t need two homes on the property. “So we tore down my parents’ home and built a brand new home on its footprint.”
The couple designed the home themselves, and worked with architects Caldwell and Cline of Marietta to finalize blueprints. “We considered the flow of the house and the architects really listened to what we had in mind,” she said. They maximized the lake vistas from many rooms, including a clear view from the kitchen across the breakfast area toward the water.
Debbie and Vince moved into the 14,000-square-foot home, built by Whitmire Custom Homes, in February 2017 and have already begun hosting friends and family there, including members of their Lakewood Baptist Sunday School class.
Her main kitchen — the house has four kitchens when you count the two outdoors — is filled with custom cabinets designed and built by Chris Housley of Housley Enterprises in Suwanee. Finely appointed with rich gray glazed wood and accented with natural black walnut detailing, the cabinets are complimented by a soaring barrel ceiling made from reclaimed brick. “We used local subcontractors as much as possible and they helped us find so many special touches,” Debbie says. “For instance, Mountain Marble and Granite in Cleveland found the brick for the kitchen’s barrel ceiling in an old Chicago warehouse.”
The kitchen has a separate hidden working pantry where Debbie can do all the preparation for entertaining while keeping the main kitchen organized. The pantry even has a dishwasher, full-size refrigerator and a sink. Just off the kitchen, the main floor wine room with its double glass doors and custom wrought iron work lends itself to romantic dinners for her and Vince. In fact, they have many choices for where to enjoy meals together or dining with their two sons, 24-year-old Taylor and 22-year-old Travis, who works in the family business — Lawson Air Conditioning & Plumbing.
The main- loor master suite features a 10- by 12-foot shower with two heated spa tiled loungers. “The loungers were inspired by a Disney Cruise Spa experience,” she says. There’s a generous screened porch off the master suite with lake views, “the perfect place to just enjoy a glass of wine and look at the beauty of the lake.” Two guest suites, one on each floor, provide space for overnight visitors.
“We tried to think of incorporating the kinds of things that would have made my mother’s life easier, including an elevator so that we would be able to live here for a long time.”
Debbie’s touch is evident throughout the five bedroom home that has five full baths and two half-baths. “Vince and I had no idea that we could do design work at this level,” she says. The home fits well on the gentle sloping lake lot. With ample outdoor entertaining space, screened porches and a pool, it’s a retreat from the workday world and a chance to relax surrounded by nature.
“I was so attached to the property where I spent my youth, it just seemed like the right thing to do,” she says. “The lot is so special to us and it’s filled with such great memories. We are so blessed to be able to share this with our family and friends.”

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