From an 1,100-square-foot fixer-upper to a 5,000-square-foot luxury lake house, Kent and Linda Carlston moved from summer weekends to full-time lake life in November of 2016. Both hail from the West Coast, but once they settled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1995, there was no turning back.
In 2002, when gas was $1.61 per gallon and Kelly Clarkson won the first American Idol contest, the Carlstons purchased this lake property, just under an acre. “The little house was in terrible disrepair,” says Linda. “We fixed it up, added a deck and sunroom on the lake side and built a dock.” The family used it as a summer place until their youngest graduated from high school in 2013. “We decided then that we would like to live at the lake full-time,” Kent relates. “We thought about building on the existing structure, but once an engineer and architect explained all the issues that created, we decided to demolish it in 2014.”
Peter Ozolins was a premier architect in the region, perfect for the job. Sadly, he lost his life in a tractor-trailer accident four years ago. He was hailed as a humble man with boundless curiosity and an irrepressible sense of humor. “We wanted further assistance with interior design, and he recommended Teresa Ko in Blacksburg,” Kent states. “Richard Caldwell built a lot of houses in our Christiansburg neighborhood, and everyone was impressed with the quality of his work, so we tapped him as builder.”
The design of the house focuses on a lot of natural light inside with as many views of the lake as possible.
The kitchen was designed to be open to the dining room and living room as well as have a view to the lake. Kent explains: “Peter said that the kitchen was like the helm of a ship where you can view the water ahead of you and to both sides. So even doing dishes isn’t bad when you have a beautiful view.” All the bedrooms offer lake views, and a couple powder rooms have a special chair from which one can look out over the water.
The open staircase in the center was custom-designed and constructed by Richard Caldwell. Teresa Ko then created a custom light fixture which cascades above it down the center. It is a striking focal point and often the first thing someone notices when walking in.

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“People always say that building a house, or having one built, is one of the most stressful processes there is,” Kent declares. “We joked about having a house built just in time for us to get a stress-related divorce.” But that did not happen.
“We had a very enjoyable experience with the team,” Linda adds, “and we are very pleased with our lake home. Peter, Richard and Teresa worked closely to bring everything together.”
“Early in the planning process,” Kent continues, “we were invited to dinner at the Ozolins home to get to know each other. It was a delightful evening, and we were so taken by their natural landscaping that we asked Mary Bakken, Peter’s wife, to help us with our landscaping. She and her friend, Lori Jones from Crow’s Nest, stepped in to landscape the property.

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The top floor office offers a balcony and west-facing water views, so one might wonder how much work gets done between peacefully gazing out and reading in a warm breeze. The main floor houses the kitchen, dining room, living room and master bedroom and bath and connects with the garage for aging in place and single floor living. They also have an exercise room, hot tub, large storage under the garage to store jet skis and water gear. They have always had a ski boat, and now enjoy kayaks and paddleboards.
The overall design goal for the retirement home was for it to be comfortable, relaxed and open with large rooms and deck spaces for entertaining. Beautiful hardwood floors, doors and trim offer natural warmth, along with two stone fireplaces. Several energy-saving materials complement 27 solar panels which provide electricity.
“One thing we enjoy the most is sitting on the deck with a glass of wine and watching the sunset and stargazing,” Linda shares. There are so many memories being made, interesting lake stories and terrific times with friends, family and neighbors.

Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Tom and Christy Wallace