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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Joint Effort

A look inside the Compass Cove retreat of Mike and Terry Lynn Toalson

When Mike and Mary Lynn Toalson moved from the Midwest to Richmond in 1991, they pursued boating “on the riv-ah,” – the James, York and Rappahannock rivers, all within an hour’s drive of Virginia’s capital. But what the couple really yearned for was a body of water similar to Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, which they had enjoyed while growing up.

“We searched out lakes, and let me tell you, Smith Mountain Lake had it all over any other lake we saw,” said Mike. “We bought a house in Penhook, a half a mile from Vista Point, in 1994.”

By then, the family included two children, and they all enjoyed the lake house on weekends and during vacations for 18 years. Throughout the years, the Toalsons made several additions to the home to better accommodate their evolving lake lifestyle. However, they ultimately decided to build a new home on a lot in Compass Cove they discovered one day while out for a boat ride.

“We love the view at Compass Cove, and one of our priorities was to be just a 15-minute drive from Westlake,” said Mike.

Since the Toalsons were living in Richmond during the building process, the project presented some challenges. But Mike had professional experience that helped: As chief executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV), he works closely with home builders on a daily basis and heads up a lobbying team that works with state lawmakers and regulators on home-construction regulations and legislation.

“You’ve got to find a builder you can trust,” advised Mike, who chose Scott Zechini, an HBAV member whose work on other homes at Smith Mountain Lake impressed him.

The two started with a house plan Zechini had used previously and modified it accommodate the Toalsons’ wants and needs.

“We really knew what we wanted in a house; we had had 18 years of experience at a home on the lake,” said Mike. “Not only do our children visit, we have a large extended family, so we needed room for lots of guests. We bumped out the plan’s eating area and great room, and we made the deck 12 feet wide, four feet wider than at the old house. We took some of the space from the master bedroom – all you do there is sleep, why have it be so big? – and added that space to the great room. We liked the open-concept floor plan, and we vaulted the ceiling to make the space more bright and airy.

“Also, it was important to make the house as maintenance-free as possible,” Mike said.

For the deck, the Toalsons chose low-maintenance boarding material from Azek and powder-coated aluminum railings. The lower level has tile flooring for easy maintenance; the main level has oak underfoot.

Mary Lynn enlisted the help of Miranda Shotwell of Designer Solutions for many of the home’s interior design elements, including lighting, cabinetry, countertops, flooring, shower-tile design and paint colors.

“Mary Lynn liked what I call ‘spa colors,’ that are very light,” Shotwell said. “In the bathrooms adjoining each of the four bedrooms, we used a coordinating color that was a few shades darker.”

Even though Zechini sent photos throughout the construction process, the Toalsons visited the lake monthly to check on the home’s progress. But they took comfort in knowing the builder had their best interests at heart.

“Scott rebuilt the lakeside stone columns three times – not because of our comments, but because he didn’t like the look of them, and he wanted to get it right,” Mary Lynn said. “After much searching, he found the Arts and Crafts-style front door for us. My tastes were higher than our budget, but he was a good shopper.

Mike said his daily job duties definitely came in handy when building the couple’s lake retreat.

“My position requires me to visit many home building sites every year,” he said, “and often my discussions with industry leaders surround such issues as the Uniform Statewide Building Code, and the latest news and information about new building methodologies and materials.”