Photography by Sally Kolar
The pull that Clarks Hill Lake has on an Appling family, which lives at the water’s edge year-round, knows no depth.
When Appling resident Chad Harpley was growing up, he used to spend summers at Clarks Hill Lake with his grandmother. Now he spends every day at the lake with his own family.
Chad and his wife, Tara, broke ground on their lakeside home, which they affectionately call Harpley Lagoon, in 2015 and moved in with their two children, Will and Ava, during Masters Week of 2016. However, having the lake in their backyard is not the only reason the property is special to them.
They built their house on the same lot that Chad’s grandparents bought in 1961 for $700. When they first broke ground on the house, his grandmother, Dolores Holsonbake (whom everyone called “Motha”) still lived in a cottage on the property.
“She told us to tear down her cottage and build a new house since we had outgrown our house off Hereford Farm Road,” says Chad.
The Harpleys liked the idea, and they had planned to include a mother-in-law suite for Dolores, who was in declining health. Unfortunately, she died on Christmas Day in 2015 before the house was finished.
The house, however, is full of reminders of “Motha.” For instance, a friend had given the chandelier in the walk-in pantry to Chad’s grandmother for her closet. And there’s a reason decorative owls are perched throughout the house. At the moment she died, Tara says, Chad was driving on Interstate 20 when an owl clipped his antenna. They also found an owl on the stoop one day while the house was under construction.
“The owls are a symbol to us that Motha is OK,” Tara says.
From a baby deer curled up under a tree to baby ducks on the water, wildlife is everywhere on property. The steady singing of birds serves as soothing background music as well. “It’s so peaceful out here,” says Tara.
Design of the house, which was a joint effort, also was a peaceful process. “I was responsible for the main floor. I like my glitz and glamour,” says Tara. “Chad wanted a lake-y feel, so he got to do the basement.”
The Harpleys, who like to spend time enjoying the lake, agreed they wanted a brick house. “I wanted the house to be maintenance-free,” says Chad.
The brick front porch features a herringbone pattern on the flooring as well as white wicker furniture with brightly colored cushions and aqua pillows. The front porch also features a heart pine ceiling.
The Harpleys carried the herringbone flooring pattern into the foyer as well. Heart pine flooring can be found throughout the first and second stories, except for the bonus room, which is carpeted. “I love the scratches and dents in the floor,” Tara says. “Each one tells a story.”
The living room, accented with aqua and sand-colored décor, has a beach-y feel to it, and its large curtain-free picture windows offer a tranquil view of the covered back porch and Keg Creek. “I love the light, bright, open feel,” says Tara.
A vaulted ceiling adds to the openness of the space, which also includes a brick gas fireplace and built-in bookcases. A ceramic Buddha sits on one of the built-in bookcase shelves. “I love my Buddha,” says Tara. “He’s my good luck charm.”
One of Tara’s friends made the coffee table in the living room; a wooden sign in the office, which features a quote from Mother Teresa; and the wooden Harpley Lakehouse sign on the stacked stone landing wall to the basement.
The rock wall offers a preview of the ambiance that Chad created for the basement. “I wanted a place that felt like we were at the lake,” he says.
The island and bar area are shaped like the back of a boat, and boat cleats serve as hardware for the cabinetry. Three pendant lights hang above the island, which also includes a sink.
The luxury vinyl tile flooring is waterproof, and the basement includes a full bath that has easy access to swimmers and boaters without having to track water through the house.
The basement sitting area features a stacked stone, raised-hearth, wood-burning fireplace. “Rocky,” a stuffed raccoon who has his paw in a jar of peanut butter, has staked out a spot on the wood mantel. Built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace sit in front of a stacked stone wall.
Other memorabilia include a matted and framed picture that pays homage to the property’s history. The frame holds the original flier from 1961 when the Keg Creek lots were auctioned off and the original purchase receipt from Georgia Railroad Bank & Trust Company. The basement also features two canvases of photos – a tractor in a field and an old barn side – that Chad took in the Yukon on trips with his friend Dave Turin of the “Gold Rush” reality TV show.
“We have lots of memories here,” Tara says.
The basement also includes two side-by-side bedrooms, and the first room originally was supposed to be a sitting room for Chad’s grandmother. The bedrooms, however, still get plenty of use. The Harpleys move to the basement while they rent the rest of the house during Masters Week, and Chad’s mother, Cindy Harpley, also stays with them sometimes. “This is her home away from home,” he says.
Time to Eat
The master bedroom includes blackout blinds, a ceiling fan, double doors that lead to a covered porch and a view of Keg Creek.
“It’s so nice to wake up in the morning to the lake view,” says Tara. “It’s just a little slice of heaven.”
The covered porch, along with a screened-in porch, is one of two porches on the back of the house. Both porches have stained concrete flooring and heart pine ceilings.
The covered porch also features a vaulted tongue and groove ceiling, gas fireplace, wicker furnishings, ceiling fan, wet bar with an ice maker, Big Green Egg and a covered fire pit.
The dinner bell on the back porch was a housewarming gift from a neighbor. Perhaps it was a gift to the neighbor himself as well.
“My grandmother used to ring a cowbell for me to come home. My neighbor got tired of hearing it, so he gave us the dinner bell,” says Chad. “We’re like Pavlov’s dog. When we hear the bell ringing, we start salivating because it’s time to eat.”
The screened-in porch features wicker furniture, a ceiling fan and a gas fireplace. The fireplace mantel is made of a Civil War-era piece of wood, which a neighbor, who worked for Georgia Pacific, found when he was searching for lumber. “He found a set of three steps that once led to a house,” says Chad, “and there were two big cedar trees on either side of the steps.”
The concrete flooring in the screened-in porch is stained blue on the interior pieces, and the border pieces are stained brown to match the covered porch floor.
Tara and Chad agree that the screened-in porch is their favorite spot in the house.
“We have two infrared heaters, so I can come out here when it’s 30 degrees or 90 degrees,” says Chad. “We use the porch year-round. It’s a good napping place, and the screens keep the bugs away.”
He also likes to cook, and the Harpleys’ kitchen offers plenty of amenities for any chef to enjoy. The kitchen features a farmhouse sink, subway tile, a pot filler, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, a walk-in pantry with a frosted glass door and tall cabinets that reach to the ceiling. Four small cabinets on top have glass front doors, and the position of the sink provides a view of the lake.
“I love Joanna Gaines and her white kitchens,” says Tara. “I did not want a dining room. I knew we wouldn’t ever use it. I like the open flow with no walls into the living room.”
The eating area includes a table with four upholstered chairs and a bench. The Harpleys got the chairs first in the Highlands, North Carolina area, and they found the table and bench at Merry’s Trash & Treasures. “I like not having things match. I don’t like for things to be uniform,” says Tara. “And the bench is great for kids. We can fit a lot of booties on it.”
The Harpleys spend as much time as they can on the lake in their two boats – a center console fishing boat and a ski boat, two kayaks and standup paddle board.
“For the most part after dinner, we take a boat ride,” says Chad. “When we have friends here for dinner, we take a cocktail cruise and watch the sunset.”
They also like to waterski, tube and wakeboard. “We love the lake, and we love to entertain,” Tara says. “The more we can share, the better.”
When they aren’t communing with nature on the lake, the Harpleys can communicate with each other with an intercom system between the rooms throughout the house.
“The house is automated, so we can turn on the lights remotely from our phones,” says Chad, who owns Premier Networx, an IT support company.
An upstairs bonus room is another playground for Will and Ava. The space includes three ceiling fans, a table and chairs, a pool table, a foosball table, a TV, a couch and a sink. “I always wanted a room where the kids could hang out with their friends when they come over,” says Tara.
The bonus room originally was supposed to be 12 feet wide, but they expanded it to 18 feet wide and 40 feet long.
“Once the house was framed, we went through and tried to use all the usable space we could,” Chad says.
And they plan to do so for a long time.
“This is our forever house,” says Tara. “We’ll never be able to sell this property because it means so much to us.”
By Betsy Gilliland