Photography by Sally Kolar
Whether serving as a movie set or a place to showcase local artists’ work, a West Lake home has a leading role in the life of this family
Some houses are so beautiful that they ought to be in the movies. Like the West Lake home of Dagni and John Frederick, for instance. Scenes from the movie, Saving Zoë, which will be released July 12 and stars sisters Laura and Vanessa Marano, were filmed at the Fredericks’ Mediterranean-style house two years ago.
“It was fun to see how a film was made,” says Dagni. “They set up one day and filmed all the next day.”
The master bedroom served as the wardrobe room and a hangout for cast members, and the vanity area in the master bath became hair and makeup central. Other parts of the residence, such as the backyard pool, will appear on screen.
However, the house doesn’t have to have a cameo appearance in a film to look picture perfect. Outside of those two days of movie making, the Fredericks have spent the rest of their nearly three years in the house making it into a home for themselves and their two young sons, Reiter, 4, and Cameron, 3.
Just as their home fit into Hollywood’s vision for the film, the Fredericks, who also lived in West Lake before they moved into this house, had a vision for it as well.
“We drove by the house every day, and we were always intrigued by the house and the property,” says John. “The house was adjacent to a greenspace, and we thought the property had real potential. We had a vision for it. We had talked about it. I don’t know why.”
As it turns out, though, those hypothetical conversations were prescient. Because one day they saw a “for sale” sign in the yard. Needless to say, the house was not on the market for long. (Neither was the Fredericks’ previous house, which is similar in style, but smaller, than their new home. In fact, they “swapped” houses with the prior owner of their new house, who moved into their former residence.)
One of the first orders of business when they moved in was to clear more of the 2.3-acre lot and add landscaping.
“When we looked at the property, we knew what we could do outside. We’re outdoor people, and we wanted to make it as comfortable and as usable as possible,” Dagni says. “We don’t feel like we’re in the city. We’re constantly finding turtles and taking them back to the creek.
They made part of the cleared property into a greenspace, and new landscaping in the backyard included a palm tree and azaleas that were transplanted from the front yard. By removing all of the pine trees except one, the afternoon sun fills the property with light.
“The yard has gotten to be low-maintenance,” says Dagni. “We have to pick up limbs in the greenspace, but it takes us less than an hour.”
In the backyard, they extended the pool area, gutted the previous pool and replaced it with a gunite pool surrounded by salt-pitted concrete decking. The pool includes an umbrella in the water on the steps, waterfalls and two fire bowls on either side of a sunk-in hot tub. Containers full of plants add color to the deck area as well. Dagni also has a hydroponics tower garden where she grows green onions, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce.
“I have a love for plants. I find them very calming,” she says. “I swap plants with my mother in Arkansas.”
They also built a covered outdoor kitchen, which includes a stone base and granite countertops, and a connecting covered sitting area, where two ceiling fans, heaters and a fireplace let the Fredericks use the space year-round.
“We have breakfast out here. We use this space all the time,” Dagni says. “We sit outside and have coffee, enjoy nature and the birds, and grill outside at night.”
Behind the pool house, they added a play area for their sons and built a fire pit out of boulders. “We wanted to use boulders for the fire pit to incorporate the look in the front yard,” says Dagni.
The fire pit is surrounded by cedar Adirondack chairs and a stand-alone porch swing on a flagstone surface.
An open-ended covered porch, which is connected to the house, features columns, natural stone flooring, outdoor furnishings, a fire pit table, three tropical ceiling fans and a rack to hang colorful beach towels.
Neutral Colors, Natural Light
Double doors from the covered porch lead into the living room, where full-length and arched windows offer a view of the pool and bring in natural light.
The Fredericks added a raised-hearth, stone fireplace, which extends to the top of the two-story coffered ceiling, in the living room. Serving as a focal point, the fireplace includes a mantel of reclaimed barn wood. Built-in bookcases, which are painted black and include lighting, sit on each side of the gas fireplace.
An upstairs catwalk overlooks the room, and a wet bar is tucked in the space beneath the stairs. The arched entries from the hallway include four columns.
“Every room had columns,” says Dagni. “We removed 16 columns, and it really opened up the space.”
John and Dagni, a member of the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art board of trustees, love art, and a large colorful painting by Lakota Phillips hangs on the wall across from the fireplace. In fact, their home is full of pieces by local artists such as Lillie Morris, Lucy Weigle, Ann LeMay, Linda Hardy, Lola Streett and Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman.
“We like neutral walls and then bring out color with artwork,” says Dagni.
The foyer features a medallion inlay in the natural stone flooring, which the Fredericks used to replace the original marble floors in the house. They put UV protection on all of the windows to protect the flooring and to make the home more energy efficient.
Unlike their first house in West Lake, their current home includes a formal dining room that has a curved wall, wainscoting, hardwood flooring and arched entryways.
A pair of china cabinets holds pieces of the Fredericks’ china pattern as well as china that belonged to both of Dagni’s great-grandmothers.
Matching decorative bowls of different sizes hang in an irregular pattern on the wall between the china cabinets, and each of the bowls features a pair of LED votive candles.
“I didn’t want a picture on the dining room wall,” Dagni says.
Across the foyer from the dining room, the billiards room also features a curved wall, wainscoting, hardwood flooring and arched entries. The pool table, which belonged to the previous owner, sits beneath a light fixture that John gave to Dagni as an anniversary gift one year.
“John is the pool player, but I can give him a run for his money at darts,” Dagni says. “The boys just roll the balls across the table.”
In the dining room and billiards room, they put up half-rods so the window treatments wouldn’t extend across the walls. “It provides a lot of natural light,” says Dagni.
Making It Their Own
They painted the kitchen a neutral color to make it lighter, and the room also features natural stone flooring, granite countertops, a tile backsplash, a walk-in pantry, lots of drawer space, stainless steel appliances, a TV above the refrigerator and three pendant lights above the island.
Two sides of the island, which has a light-colored granite countertop, are painted black. The perimeter cabinets have an Old World finish and black countertops.
The adjoining breakfast area features a bay window that overlooks the pool.
Another bay window in the sitting area of the master bedroom – one of Dagni’s and John’s favorite spots to relax – adds symmetry to the back of the house. A curved couch is nestled in the window, and a ceiling fan cools the space.
The Fredericks removed built-ins from the master bedroom to open up the space, but arched built-in bookcases featuring white shelves and black walls, occupy either side of the gas fireplace with a natural stone surround.
The room also features hardwood flooring and a trey ceiling.
A restored antique cedar trunk, filled with artwork by the boys and other keepsakes, rests at the foot of the bed. A painting of President John Tyler, which indicates that the trunk was built during his 1841 – 45 presidency, can be found on the inside lid of the trunk.
“The lock is the only thing that has been replaced,” says Dagni.
The trunk, which came from an online company, was another anniversary gift from John to Dagni. “He always thinks outside the box when it comes to gifts,” she says.
When it comes to gift-giving, Dagni does pretty well herself. She gave John a watercolor of Riverwalk by LouAnn Zimmerman, displayed in one of the bookcases, as an anniversary gift one year. Riverwalk is meaningful to them because that’s where they made the decision to move to the area.
The adjoining master bath features natural stone flooring, a walk-in shower with natural stone, a trey ceiling, a jetted tub with natural stone surround, granite countertops, a cushioned built-in seat and a framed mirror. In another personal touch, they also created office space in the walk-in closet off the master bath.
“This is everything that we want,” Dagni says of the house. “I think we finally feel like we’ve made it our own.”
By Betsy Gilliland