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Lake Living: Becky and Billy Bale enjoy family time at their lake house

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Story by Gay Lyons | Photography by Ben Finch

When Becky and Billy Bale attended an estate sale at a home on Norris Lake in 2017, they thought they might buy some furniture, maybe some art. “They had beautiful antique furniture and paintings,” Becky recalled. “I had my eyes on these blue vases.”

Becky and Billy, who’s retired from the coal industry and serves on the board of a community bank, were familiar with the house. They knew the original owner, who built the house in 1975, and the second one and had visited both. Still, they surprised themselves at the auction.

They bought the house!

“We got up there and the nostalgia, the years of coming up here, I just got involved with the auction and ended up buying it,” said Billy. “We had second thoughts that night. ‘What have we done?’”

The home on Norris Lake, just 25 minutes from their full-time home, drew them in--even as they realized what needed to be done to make the house their home.

“It was in desperate need of repair,” said Billy. “At first I wasn’t going to do a total tear-out. But we decided to tear out the galley kitchen so we could see the view. And then we ended up tearing everything out and replacing everything, plumbing and electrical.”

For the work, Billy called on Mark Mills, a contractor he knew from his days in the coal business, who worked closely with Todd Richesin, Todd Richesin Interiors, to repair, renovate and reinvigorate the home.

“We met Todd in 2015 when he helped redo our living room and kitchen,” said Becky. “We love his work and became friends, so we invited him out to the lake house pretty quickly.”

“My background’s in electrical engineering,” said Billy, “so I did a lot of drafting. We worked with architect Duane Grieve. The painters from Dan Border were great. I worked with Mark and Todd, and Mark and Todd worked together. Todd figured out how to add the elevator. He’s just brilliant.”

The Bales trusted Todd and gave him “full reign,” they said. “We would go to his office, and he would show us color schemes,” said Becky. “We’d pick out furniture. I wanted everything to be comfortable and not show dirt.”

The Bales bought the home in June 2017; work began in August 2017; and they spent their first night there in May 2019. They loved the home so much they did not return to their other home until October 2019.

“We love the colors Todd chose,” Becky continued. “They bring the outside in. It’s so easy to take care of. It’s not cluttered. It’s relaxing and peaceful.”

Becky likes the pops of color, especially the hot pink used in one of the guest rooms, where Todd sawed a king size headboard in two to make two twin headboards.

At approximately 5400 square feet and situated on 20 acres, the three-story five-bedroom weeping mortar home holds a lot of people: the Bales’ kids and their friends, their grandkids and their friends. “We’ve had a houseful this summer, and we love it,” said Becky. “The grandkids like to go four-wheeling and tubing. We have the family here a lot.”

The couple enjoys the wildlife and the different views of nature they can see from the home. Becky loves the wisteria, planted in 1975, that covers the trellis on the back porch. “It makes the porch the coolest area in the summer,” she said, “and it’s a focal point from the lake. We just love it here. When you come out here, you don’t want to go back home.”

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