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“The Clouses begin their new home adventure with an inspirational photo, lampshades, and a dream.

An inspiration photo, lampshades, and a dream are all Karen Clouse had when she and her husband, Greg, began to plan their retirement home in The Reserve at Lake Keowee

“We came from Texas to take a look and said we wouldn’t be buying that weekend,” says Karen. “We saw just two properties and knew immediately. It felt like home.”

They purchased seven acres that weekend in 2017.

“Every time we came to town, we would sit on the lot, look at the mountains, and dream about what the house would look like,” Karen says.

The Clouses hired Brad Wright of Wright Design to translate their dreams into architectural drawings, and Ray Foral and Terry Lawler of Ridgeline Construction Group made the drawings a reality. 

“I had an inspiration photo of a dining room in a mountain house in Montana,” says Karen. “The rest of our house was drawn around that dream dining room.”

The Clouses’ dining room is framed by large windows and stone walls. Ashton Acosta of In Site Designs helped Karen with the furnishing and decor for the house. In the dining room, they chose a rustic French Oak antique table at the Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas and a raindrop chandelier from Restoration Hardware.   

“I ended up loving my dining room more than the inspiration room,” she laughs. 

Glimpses of the dining room are visible from the great room and kitchen. These glimpses and hints of spaces keep you wanting to see more.

“The house has a really unconventional floor plan,” says Lawler. “It makes you want to see what magnificent space is down that hallway or beyond that alcove.”

Even though the results are spectacular, it didn’t start out that way. Construction began on July 1, 2020. 

“When the pandemic hit, the market tanked and every project we had hit the brakes,” says Foral. “Karen and Greg were the first that said ‘All right, let’s go.’ It was an adventure.”

Armed with a chisel and a lampshade, they started to build.

“I bought the lampshade before we even broke ground,” says Karen. “I walked into the design meeting and said ‘I want my house to feel like this lampshade—neutral, rustic, and cozy.’”

To achieve this look, Greg and Karen, with the help of Ridgeline’s in-house interior designer Maggie Madarasz, used textured French oak wide-plank hardwood floors from Belgium, Doggett Mountain stone, and circle-sawn reclaimed timber beams throughout the house. 

Each stone was hand-chiseled on-site to create six-inch-thick walls and beautiful archways. Each beam of reclaimed timber was hand-selected and shipped from Tennessee. These natural elements keep the large great room feeling cozy. 

“To us, cozy doesn’t mean small. It is when you walk into a room and you just want to stay in that room,” says Karen.

The Keeping Room at The Reserve at Lake Keowee


In the kitchen, Karen and Greg wanted a keeping room where guests can keep whoever is cooking company. They added lots of places to gather, such as a bar with a mountain lake view, a comfy couch, and a trestle table from the 1800s.

During the design process, Karen was suffering from a back injury, so Madarasz designed the cabinets for accessibility in case Karen’s condition became long-term. Thankfully, Karen recovered and still got all the beautifully organized cabinets.

“We worked through how she was to use each cabinet, what she was going to store in it, and what type of organizational inserts she would need,” says Madarasz.

That attention to detail continues into Karen’s craft room, where special cabinets house stamps, ribbons, and papers. “It is my happy place,” she says. “Every time it rains, I am in this room making greeting cards for friends and family.” 

When the weather is nice, Karen and Greg can be found on their screened porch. Under its vaulted ceiling, the perfect entertaining space boasts a huge fireplace (one of five in the house), an outdoor kitchen with a 48-inch Wolf grill, and a view of the spa area and lake beyond. 

“We feel like it is such a blessing for us to have this home,” says Karen. “It is a home that needs to be shared.” 

Guests have their own spaces: a separate patio, two bedrooms and bathrooms, a separate laundry room, and even their own parking. 

“Our friends love the house so much that it feels like a hotel. I need to ask for five-star ratings online,” Greg jokes. 

Five-star ratings wouldn’t do the house justice. 

“The house is just so cool, and Karen and Greg are awesome. It’s a project we’ll still be talking about in 20 years,” says Foral. 

Long before it was a cool house, it was a big dream for Karen and Greg. With patience, planning, and the right team, the house exceeded their wildest dreams. And so the adventure continues as they welcome people into their forever home.”

Author: Jess Yun

We know that designing a home or office, whether remodeling or building from the ground up, can be a daunting task if you do not have the right team in place. We are excited to learn more about you and your story to help realize your design dreams.

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