Heart and Home: Christopher Architecture & Interiors


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Words by Charlotte Brakmann
Photos provided by
Christopher Architecture & Interiors

If you were to keep driving two hours out of the scenic mountainscapes of Birmingham, Alabama, the hills would turn into plains as the air thickens. Lake Martin is a man-made body of water spanning 41,150 acres. Mainly residential, this lake community beckons a deep breath as soccer schedules, work commitments, and the to-do lists are left behind. From quaint cabins to grand estates- boaters are able to catch a glimpse of the families and laughter dwelling in each home. 

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The idea of a legacy lake home goes beyond being a touchpoint for families from Memorial to Labor Day. It is a representation for individuals, that no matter how far each member of their family scatters, there is a sacred place right where the water kisses the shore, that they will reunite at again and again. 

Spending time understanding how a topography rolls into the water is as important as knowing how many family and guests will be attending the Fourth of July festivities. Before putting pen to paper Joanna, Chris and their team invest in learning what makes a client and their site unique. 

“The location and the clients are the canvas of our creation. Important information is oftentimes gathered from families over a glass of wine and conversations. We listen and pick up on the adjectives they use and the inflections in their speech as they tell the story and vision for “home”. When designing a luxury vacation home, rooms should mimic the family’s personality, interests, and lifestyle, so that it can function in multiple ways for gathering and entertaining,” Founder and President of Christopher Architecture and Interiors Chris Reebals explained. 

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The priority of the design for the lake homes is that it would be a vessel to enhance the view of the water. Outdoor spaces have a direct relationship with the indoor. Hours and weeks are spent by designers ensuring that every room has a view of the water and a dramatic vista, even down to studying sunset angles. From the interior fabrics to the kitchen’s layout- each piece in the home is hand-sketched and picked out, to bring your eyes back outside, so that you never feel like you have gone indoors. 

The practicality of a lake home’s design comes from Chris’s understanding of the activities that his clients enjoy on the water. From sunrise paddleboarding to late afternoon wakeboarding, the spaces are built to accommodate the activities that keep you out on the water long after the sun sets. He creates room to repose the calm feeling at sunset when you are the only boat on the water and the sunset reflects off the water, giving the illusion that you are floating on a sheet of glass. 

The excitement of a legacy home comes from the posture of “come one, come all.” Chris and his team, have found creative ways to fit as many bunk rooms, day beds, and sleeping spaces- so that the hospitable nature of the lake, never turns down a sleepy head. 

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The interiors are intended to be refined without being fussy. The hues, patterns, and materials are inspired by the activities that the owners enjoy and the nature of the lake. From the spanning pine trees to the cerulean blue water- there are countless inspirations to marry what is found outside your home’s grand windows with its inner parts. From wide plank oak flooring, brick flooring, antique limestone, and natural copper- the outside is mirrored on the inside.

“When we design a legacy lake home we not only contemplate what its function is the day it goes into service but also how it will mature and evolve. In other words, we believe that a well-designed home should age well. From the way materials patina to how wall surfaces are treated, we are contemplating what a structure will look like 10, 20, 30 years from today. Legacy in design contemplates the maturing and evolution of a structure,” explained Chris. 

Little pieces in the home are picked out with clients so that they have more than the element of beauty, but also of memory. Legacy homes are the keepers of deep nostalgia and intimate memories spent with loved ones, and the spaces created by Christopher A&I are intended to have that same tangible feeling.