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Summer Reverie: Hope and Mark Ingram's Lakeside Retreat Taps and Creates Memories



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STORY BY GAY LYONS | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BEN FINCH

Camp Fish Lips looks as though it might have been lifted from a lake in the Adirondacks and placed on its rock bluff overlooking a quiet inlet on Norris Lake. And that’s what Hope and Mark Ingram had in mind.

“We wanted a ‘summer camp,’” said Hope. “I was inspired by old, rustic Adirondack camps and the memories I had of summers spent at Elkmont.”

A house featured in an article in “Southern Living,” spotted by Hope’s sister-in-law, Kreis Beall, further helped bring the Ingrams’ vision to life. Using photos of that home, the couple worked with architect Daryl Johnson of Johnson Architecture to come up with their own concept.

The result: a dog trot, the home’s central area, connecting three bedrooms with the great room; a rustic sleeping porch, Fort Fish Lip, connected by a pedestrian bridge; and a second story nook accessed by open stairs in the dog trot. You can exit the nook via the same stairs--or by sliding down a fire fighters’ style pole.

“We thought [the second story nook] would be a reading room, a place to get away,” said Hope, “but there are so many others, it ends up not being used. There might be a dead animal up there . I clean up there about once a year.” [Note: No dead animals were found.]

The sleeping porch--a fort-style tree house--was a hit with the Ingrams’ children and their friends. The walkway, swing and zip lines have guaranteed kid appeal; hammocks, chairs and cots provide kid-friendly sleeping accommodations.

“Now it mostly collects dust,” said Hope. “When my nieces want to go out there, I have to go sweep it out. It’d be easier to hose it down.”

The reading room and sleeping porch are the only areas receiving scant use. Bedroom occupancy varies on the number of guests. In addition to the master bedroom, there’s a bunk room and a guest room--both formerly occupied by the Ingram children.

“We spend 95 percent of our time in the great room,” said Mark. “Or the screened porch or decks.”

“We go down to the dock,” said Hope. “It’s a hike.”

“It’s a pretty steep hike,” agreed Mark, “especially the hike up from the dock.”

The 3,000 square feet home seems larger than it is because of the high beamed ceilings, the additional 1500 square feet of screened porches and decks and the unique mahogany “pulley” windows.

There are 54 windows and 11 screen doors in the home. The windows and doors provide light and air; in addition, the screen doors’ closings emit the distinctive “thwack” that evokes summers during pre-air conditioned eras.

“Essentially every room becomes a screened porch,” said Hope. “It’s exactly what we envisioned.”

Items in the home are a combination of family pieces-- such as baskets belonging to Hope’s mother and great grandfather--and pieces the couple selected specifically to complement the home.

“Mark and I shopped in Highlands and Cashiers, North Carolina, and had a lot of fun doing it,” said Hope.

Among the pieces are quilts collected over the years, a Carl Sublett painting that hangs over the fireplace, a large tin fish, an old canoe, sand masks created during family trips to Pawley’s Island, balsam sacks from the Adirondacks, turtle shells, hunting trophies, birds’ nests and rocks.

“We’ve collected rocks from South Africa, Alaska, places we’ve gone fly fishing and hunting,” said Hope. “I collect heart-shaped rocks. We came across the caribou antlers when we were hunting and fishing in Alaska. The fishing lodge packed and shipped them. We weren’t sure they’d survive the trip, but they did.”

When the Ingrams built the home in 2001, their children were eight and six years old.

“We didn’t have a television here for eight years,” said Hope. “We played games and worked puzzles. It was fun for the kids growing up.”

Son Max, age 25, lives in Miami; the Ingrams’ twin daughters are 23 years old. Madeline lives in Washington, DC; Kenzie is serving in the Peace Corps in Peru.

The children and their friends still enjoy visiting. So do other family members and friends.

“Every summer all my sisters come with their daughters,” said Hope. “I love having a houseful of people.”

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