The Wunderlich family’s spacious and secluded second home in Mississippi
In the summer, countless Washingtonians have made their second home on Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons or Nantucket. But Georgetown resident and fine art insurer Blair Wunderlich had a different idea.
Far from the tried and true sandy beaches of the Cape, the hamlets of Long Island, or the rolling fairways of Florida, Wunderlich, with husband Ben, a director of the Healthcare Industry Group at Alvarez & Marsal, wanted a place to unwind or “pump the breaks” with her young, four-person family, just as she had as a child.
Embracing that nostalgia, Wunderlich not only worked to set down seasonal roots in her home state of Mississippi on the lakefront of Splinter Creek outside of Oxford, she worked with her mother, Ellen Leake, and sister, Elizabeth Keckler, to develop a 26 lot, 650-acre community there.
Purchased originally by Leake in the 1990s with the intention of turning it into a timber investment, today, Splinter Creek is not only a family gathering place but a community that blends a love of the natural landscape, with a regard for modern design. It was created in collaboration with Lang Architecture of New York and Texas-based Lake Flato Architecture, a firm specializing in sustainable design.
Wunderlich’s one-level, open floor plan property she calls East Cove Home is a far cry from the Queen Anne or Gothic Revival style residences typical of the region. Its mid-century design cantilevers over grassy banks to create a hovering effect and “minimize the touch of man on the earth,”Wunderlich says.Perched on piers, its tree house-like quality allows for 80-degree views of the water. Indeed, the hallmark of the three bedroom 2.5-bath house is its expansive lake view, where the dining room’s large floor-to-ceiling windows frame the outdoors “like artwork,” Wunderlich says.
Most days, the doors are left open, allowing for airflow and a truly indoor/outdoor living atmosphere. Architect Drew Lang of Lang Architecture describes the house as an “updated dogtrot”—an open-ended passage that runs through the center of a house, flanked by two enclosed living spaces—with doors that open along each end of a hall to create a classic breezeway effect.
When it cools down at the end of the summer work day, wine is sipped lakeside by the fire, while her toddler girls play. “Our proximity to the water informs everything we do,” she says.
Inside, the home is punctuated with work by regional Mississippi artists including Dan Tague, Masey Craddock, Carlylee Wolfe Lee and Kit Reuther. All the floors, with the exception of utility areas and bathrooms, are quarter sawn white oak.
Aside from the freedom a lake house provides, Wunderlich’s East Cove home holds even more value for her extended family, including her sister and mother (the true mastermind of the development project).
“We work in such different professional careers so to collaborate on a passion project that we love so much and to create a legacy has been truly rewarding, especially now that I have daughters,”Wunderlich says.“My hope is that we are creating something lasting that shapes their experience and relationship with Mississippi.”