This small lakeside vacation home is a reminder never to judge a book by its cover.
There’s an unassuming house situated on the banks of Cheat Lake overlooking Sunset Marina that blends in well with most other homes in the area. It’s covered in gray, weathered siding and utilizes an angled, utilitarian roofline that tops two small buildings surrounding a courtyard. And while the view from the deck is pretty glorious any time of year, it’s what’s inside that will take your breath away.
Esther Dormer, a nationally acclaimed Pittsburgh-based interior designer, purchased a small parcel of property on the lake with her husband more than 10 years ago. The couple sat on it until they developed the perfect vision for the space. Dormer first sketched the build on paper, then partnered with an architect to draw up construction plans for a 1,800-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath respite from the city.
Dormer is celebrated in interior design circles for her ability to bring the outside in, and her Cheat Lake vacation home is proof of how good she is at her job. The interior is eclectic and blends vintage pieces that Dormer has picked up along the way with modern touches. The entryway makes a statement, boasting 17-foot ceilings and providing the first inkling for visitors of the grandeur that lays beyond its threshold.
The kitchen features an oversized island with room to spare, bold black and white checkered floors, and seven vintage chandeliers that Dormer picked up at a Paresian flea market. Lighting is critical in a space, she says, and it’s often where she begins when designing a room. The kitchen area blends seamlessly with the outdoors when the glass garage door is fully opened to a small courtyard. There, guests, cocktail in hand, can gather around a cozy fire pit for marshmallow roasting or easy conversation seated in comfortable Adirondack chairs.
Despite its modest size, the property can accommodate more than 16 people with ingenious design features like the bunk room’s eight queen-size bunk beds. The master bedroom is small and cozy, offering privacy and zen-like tranquility. A metal spiral staircase delivers guests to a lower floor—one of the most popular spaces with visitors—that incorporates a small table for game play, pool, and casual seating.
Dormer says she wanted the space to feel camp-like and ultra glamorous at the same time. The reaction of guests when they walk into the space is proof that she pulled it off brilliantly.