Spotlight: Seldom Seen Lake House

Sonia Thompson

Splinter Creek residence 'Seldom Seen' was built in 2015 by Beverly and Bill Painter (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

Situated 35 feet above Splinter Creek’s North Lake is Seldom Seen, the contemporary lake house built in 2015 by homeowners Beverly and Bill Painter. “It’s so absolutely stunningly gorgeous out there,” Bill Painter says. “We walked all around the property and got to the top of that hill and said, ‘this is it.’”

The house sits on a peninsula of land surrounded on three sides by Splinter Creek's North Lake. The hill on which the house sits consists of a substantial amount of hard sandstone. Multi-colored rocks, excavated during construction, form the walls surrounding the house and gardens (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

The lake house is a secluded getaway for the couple, who live full time in Jackson, Mississippi. When they decamp for Splinter Creek to enjoy the house and property, “it’s magnificent. All your cares drop away,” Bill says. “It’s peaceful. We just sit there and stare out into the lake and relax.”

The name “Seldom Seen” pays homage to Beverly Painter's Delta family farm in Silver City, Mississippi (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

The Painters worked with Vermont-based architect Jean Terwilliger, who specializes in the design of sustainable homes using collaborative design methods and cost-effective green building technologies. The result is a house that, in Beverly’s words, “is like being in a treehouse.”

Living room furniture includes contemporary sofa by BoConcept, sofa side tables by Restoration Hardware, original mid-century teak armchairs, two matching contemporary chairs covered in Restoration Hardware fabric, and a custom glass table. Cypress sofa console table and table lamps sourced in New Orleans (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

Custom furniture pieces include the black walnut live-edge dining table that seats eight, by Fletcher Cox in Madison, Mississippi (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

“The house is filled with windows that look out through the trees and down to the lake,” Beverly says. “Whether you are sitting on the deck or screen porch, or even inside the house, the lines between inside and outside are blurred. The constant sounds of wildlife, the wind rustling the trees, the blanket of quiet makes it a place of refuge and peace for us.”

The garden, garden shed, and garden cottage are on another ridge of similar elevation, and are about 400 feet from the house. The raised-bed garden is a year-round garden with both flowers and vegetables. Around the perimeter are fig, crabapple, persimmon, dwarf pear, dwarf plum and dwarf cherry trees as well as blueberry bushes, all interspersed with day lilies. (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

For the couple, that feeling extends beyond the main house and into their extensive raised-bed garden, garden shed, and garden cottage. The 530-square-foot cottage includes a kitchenette, full bath, sleeper sofa, and Bill’s home office.

The garden cottage functions as both a guesthouse and Bill Painter's home office (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

“It’s very cozy,” Bill says. “We love to cook and drink wine. We go for walks. We sit on the screened porch and the deck, eat out in the garden.”

The garden boasts a grill and outdoor dining area with covered gazebo. The custom cypress garden table was built by Oxford-based John Haltom of Roxie Woodworks and seats 10 under the covered gazebo. The garden shed houses a small kitchenette on one side with sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, and two-burner cooktop (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

Although currently hampered by Covid, the couple says their favorite thing to do is share Splinter Creek with friends. “We love to entertain there. People love coming there,” Bill says. “Our friends can’t believe they’re in Mississippi.”

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