Something about growing up on the lake shapes a person — the way the sun tans the skin and the scent of lake water lingers long after the droplets have dried. Nothing compares to eating potato chips while listening to boats buzzing by. Waves slapping the sides of a floating dock rock waterlogged children into deep relaxation. This nostalgia called to Mayes McEntire long after he left the lake as a child.
So, when Mayes stepped onto a cedar-studded property, heard the waves, and saw the big lake view, he knew he was home. The property, entirely overgrown, hid a tiny green cabin covered in vines. It didn’t look like much from the road or water, but Mayes and Amy, his wife, could see the seed of a dream.
A Hidden Gem
The McEntires purchased the unlisted property off Highway 6 in 2013. “We got really lucky with this place,” says Mayes as he recalls searching for the perfect spot for years along Lake Murray’s perimeter. The property owner had not considered selling land he had inherited until he was approached by the McEntires’ Realtor one afternoon. It had been in his family since the lake was built in 1927.
“It was definitely a hidden gem,” says Amy.
The McEntires quickly cleared the vines from the 800-square-foot cabin and ensured the bathroom was in working order. Inside, a map of Lake Murray hung haphazardly on a shiplap wall with a pin marking the spot where their property stood — the precise place where friends and family would make memories for the next six years. Every weekend, Amy and Mayes would pile the kids in the car, pump up air mattresses, and pack their family into the tiny green cabin by the water. “We squeezed in, and we made it work,” says Amy with a smile. Mayes would grill, Amy would read, and their girls would splash and squeal by the shoreline, sending water showering across the ground.
In 2015, Amy and Mayes hired architect Tim Hance to design a home that could contain their growing girls and reflect their love for the lake. They knew they wanted the exterior modeled after the houses at one of their favorite South Carolina destinations — Kiawah Island. They also knew they wanted their space to be practical — designed for living and playing. So, each month for the next two years, they met with Tim to trade dreams, designs, and drawings. “We showed him what we wanted, and he took it from there,” says Amy.
Mayes agrees and recalls Tim’s impeccable attention to detail. “It was amazing what he did. I would never build another house without an architect,” says Mayes.
Once the drawings were finalized, the McEntires selected Kaufman Builders to begin the project. They worked in perfect harmony with Tim, carefully attending to every element of design. Although the build took two years, the McEntires remember the process with Phillip Kaufman and his crew as a joy. “We heard so many horror stories about building but never had any of those. They were very detailed and made sure everything was perfect. It was a great experience.” The McEntires still keep in touch with the Kaufmans and enlist Phillip’s help on the house from time to time.
In 2019, when the house was nearly complete, the McEntires hired Karen Menge with Pulliam Morris Interiors to select paint colors, draperies, and everything they would need to settle into their new home. She made intentional choices for the McEntire family that made their space livable, comfortable, and inspiring. Amy adopted pieces that were practical and durable — perfect for a growing family with little girls.
In May 2019, the McEntires hung the same vintage map from their beloved cabin in their new home where more lake memories would be made soon.
A Welcoming Home
Gas lanterns greet guests on the front porch of the McEntires’ cedar shake home. Ferns perch in pots above bluestone, and a mahogany door bids guests to come and make themselves comfortable. The style suggests that Lake Murray has married the Lowcountry, and everyone is welcome.
The front door opens into an expansive living room with white shiplap walls, reminiscent of the original cabin that once sat by the lake. This is their favorite room in the house. Any given day finds Amy in the center of the room folding piles of laundry while her girls dance across dark walnut floors. The room is bright and airy, with built-in bookshelves, a brown brick fireplace, and remarkable lake views.
Each room, in fact, boasts stunning vistas of the lake — including the laundry room. The house was intentionally positioned on the point so that no matter where a person stands, he or she can enjoy a sunrise or a sunset, even if just doing laundry.
Adjacent to the living room are the kitchen and dining room. Although the living room is the McEntires’ favorite space in the house, the kitchen is where most of their time is spent. Family and friends gather around an oversized quartzite island to swap stories and share snacks. “We took a practical approach to building because we have little kids,” says Amy. She insisted on durable kitchen surfaces that could withstand years of tough love from her growing girls.
Behind the island a long dining room table stretches in front of floor-to-ceiling windows with more impeccable views of Lake Murray. Although the McEntires considered including a formal dining room in their floor plan, they chose one large dining area to serve every meal and purpose. A brick wall with hanging baskets accents the room as long wooden beams stretch across the ceiling.
Just behind the dining table, French doors open to a generous back porch, a giant pool, and a perfect patio for grilling and watching football games. It is a lake lover’s paradise. It is where they take family pictures and craft beloved summer memories.
Beyond the pool, the McEntire girls still like to play along the shoreline, just as they did when they called the little cabin their weekend home. And although some of the scenery has changed, many pastimes remain the same. After a long day of playing on the lake, Mayes still pulls out blow-up mattresses in the upstairs playroom to accommodate his daughters’ slumber parties and sleepovers. A coral, teal, and lime green theme ties together each daughter’s room and represents their bright and playful personalities. Little girls pick between Barbies and blocks in a paradise built just for them.
The upstairs may be a paradise for playing children, but the primary bedroom is a sanctuary for Amy and Mayes. Wide white beams arc and stretch across the ceiling like a Lowcountry chapel. This room is their saving grace at the end of a busy day. The decor in this space is simple so as not to distract from the view outside their bedroom windows. Amy even refuses to install curtains in this room, knowing she would never draw them closed. Curtains are unnecessary when the sunset and sunrise can be enjoyed from this sacred space.
A white porcelain pedestal tub, the star of the primary bath, is placed between twin vanities. A double shower is encased in glass. Just around the corner is an immaculately organized walk-in closet with cedar boards lining the walls. In fact, each downstairs closet contains cedar hewn from the trees that studded the property before the building began. This intentional design choice again pays homage to the weekend cabin.
A Growing Dream
Amy and Mayes did their best to preserve the little cabin on their property, but eventually it had to come down to make room for their growing dreams. Undoubtedly lake life is shaping the McEntire children just as it did Mayes. Their skin glows tan, and their hair is streaked by the sun. The sounds of waves and boats are the soundtrack to these sisters’ lives. And they have learned never to underappreciate a good air mattress after a long day of play on the lake.
As her daughters grow, so do Amy’s visions for their future. One day, she hopes to host a prom dinner and pictures on their back porch at sunset. Then eventually, perhaps wedding and baby showers for her precious girls. Her heart’s desire is that their home continues to contain all the memories their children make for many years to come.
And as for Mayes, he is clearly content at home. His perfect afternoon is spent grilling on his back porch surrounded by the sights and sounds of his family making their own memories by the water. As Mayes soaks in his big water view, he continues to be shaped by the same lake he loved when he was little.