A Sense of Place

Jeff Roberts’ Smith Lake home, where entertaining is an art

Story by Barry Wise Smith and Photos by Laurey Glenn and David Warren
Flowers by RD Designs/Rita Weller Daffinson

Jeff Roberts always knew he wanted a lake house. Growing up in Tennessee, he spent time on the water with his family vacationing on the Atlantic coast and at local lakes and rivers. “Having a place on the lake has been my dream for as long as I can remember,” Roberts says.

As a financial planner, Roberts made a plan and saved for 15 years to buy a piece of property on Smith Lake. Roberts fell in love with the lake  during a college visit with friends. Its proximity to Birmingham (where Roberts lives) and crystal-clear water made it the ideal place for Roberts’ dream lake house.

Roberts found a lot on a lovely point in the Bear Pen development—with 1,000 square feet of water frontage—that had exactly what he was looking for, “a deep water lot on the main channel, with different entrances into the water…sandy beach, natural stone stairs, and a cliff face.” Unfortunately, “the timing of my savings and subsequent property purchase in 2007 was horrible,” he says of buying at the top of the market. But when the real estate market dipped, Roberts snapped up two adjoining lots in 2013 and 2015. “The three properties together gave me the footprint needed to build something  special,” he says.

After purchasing the land, Roberts set about assembling a design-build team to turn his lake house vision into reality. He engaged Chris Reebals and his team at Christopher Architecture & Interiors for the design and interiors. After coming up with a design and talking to several builders, Roberts selected Trey Goldstein and his company, Cotton Construction, to tackle the project. Cotton completed the project in an unbelievable nine months. Fletcher Smith of Curb Appeal did the landscaping.

In a nod to Roberts’ Tennessee roots, Tennessee River rock was used on the exterior and interior of the house, along with cedar shingles, timber framing, and a dark metal roof. The finished house is 5,000 square feet, with additional under-roof space on the home’s six gracious porches and three-car garage.

Close to his family, Roberts designed the house with visitors in mind. The house is named Bebbie’s Pointe for Roberts’ mom Betsy’s nickname (the grandchildren’s attempt at saying Betsy). It features five bedrooms (plus extra bunk space) and five-and-a-half bathrooms. “My mom taught me to swim, water ski, and drive a boat,” Roberts says. “My love of water really came from her, so it seemed fitting to name the house in her honor.”

The gracious kitchen is meant for gathering guests at the center of the home. A 12-foot center island with its solid slab Alabama white marble countertop anchors the kitchen, with seating for five, a prep sink, and storage all around. Large windows flood the kitchen with natural light, and the herringbone-pattern brick backsplash, copper vent hood, and large farmhouse sink add warmth to the space. High-end stainless steel appliances, custom cabinetry, and a stylish banquette seating area complete the space.

The adjacent family room, with its 30-foot vaulted ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows, and soaring stone fireplace beckons visitors to curl up on a comfy couch and relax. French doors open to a spectacular covered porch with a built-in grill and luxurious outdoor furnishings. An open walk-across on the second floor looks over onto the family room below.

The only main-level bedroom is the master suite, with a sitting area, large master bath, walk-in closet, and private porch. A private staircase leads to the top of the first of the house’s two towers, which is home to an office. Perched at the top of the tower, the office features panoramic views of the lake, perhaps the home’s most impressive.

Upstairs, Roberts’ mom and the house’s namesake, has her own private suite with a private bath and balcony. Two other bedrooms and bathrooms and two hallway bunk beds round out the second level. Another staircase leads to the home’s bunk tower, created especially for Roberts’ four nephews and nieces. Four bunks are built into one wall with a set of steps for access. A full window wall with window seat and a flat-screen TV add entertainment on rainy lake days.

When forced to pick his favorite place in the house, Roberts narrows it to two. “As strange as it sounds, my favorite spot is my dock,” Roberts says. “I would rather be there than anywhere during the day. I love to lounge in the sun, but I’m also a big child at heart. So I’m always jumping off the top deck, swinging like Spider-Man from the dock’s rope swing, paddling around in a kayak or paddle board, riding on a SeaDoo, or pulling someone behind the boat on any number of boards, tubes, and skis. Closer to the house, “I would definitely say the porch that overlooks the water,” he says. “Each day begins and ends with exactly the same thing… relaxing on the open-air porch that overlooks the lake. I would rather be sitting there around 7 p.m. during the warm weather season than any place on Earth. The view is just magical.”

From May to October, Roberts spends as much time as possible at the lake, often with his family and a rotating guest list. “In the four years since the construction on my house has been completed, there has not been one warm season weekend when I did not have company at the lake,” he says.

And for Roberts, that’s the point of Bebbie’s Pointe. “Building a house has always been in my heart,” he says. “I didn’t really understand why until this project was completed, and I put the house to use. That’s when I found its purpose. The house was not built for me to live in, use, or experience. It was built for me to share. That is its purpose. This house has been a blessing for me and a blessing for others.”

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