On a recent afternoon, Lillie Morris looked out her kitchen window and watched the rain softly dimple Mirror Lake, the 3 1/2 -acre pond behind her house in Columbia County.
The pond persuaded her and her outdoorsman-husband, Bill Morris, to buy the property about 16 years ago, she said. "This house had a pond out back, and we thought it might just be the place for us."
Their white clapboard house, which was about 2 years old when they bought it, is based on an original New England Cape Cod floor plan. The front door is painted red. There are no shutters.
There are several styles of Cape Cod, but "the defining thing is how austere they are," said Mrs. Morris, an artist, musician and nurse.
She and her husband admire Americana. They collect books by Eric Sloane, a 19th-century writer and illustrator who had a passion for Early American tools and architecture. A Sloane print hangs over the fireplace in their traditional living room, a memento from a trip through New England.
From the living room, the muffled sound of wind and rain brushing the windows made the storm seem vaguely distant. "We love it here," Mrs. Morris said.
The two-bedroom, two-bath house sits on a woodsy lot that covers more than an acre.
In 1989, the couple converted a sunporch into an informal eating area. The addition added about 200 square feet to the house's original 2,400 square feet.
The grounds gave their two sons, Hardy and Dawson, plenty of room to roam while they were young, but the house seemed cramped until the boys grew up and left home on their own, said Mrs. Morris, who is glad now the family resisted moving during the early years.
Mr. Morris, the principal of Lakeside Middle School for six years, looks forward to coming home after running a school all day, his wife said. Home "is a real sanctuary to Bill." This fall he begins a new job as an assistant superintendent for Columbia County schools.
While she favored vibrant colors such as navy, salmon, gold, red and coffee in decorating most areas of the house, she used warm neutrals for her husband's study.
A couch and side chair have tan upholstery. A collection of railroad memorabilia that belonged to her father is displayed in the room.
In the kitchen, shelves above a window are lined with glass bottles and jars in various tints, shapes and sizes. Mr. Morris brought some of them back from his fishing trips.
Wallpaper in navy-and-white windowpane check covers the walls. Window sash, trim and cabinets are white. Flooring is oak in a natural finish.
One of her favorite features of the house was a birthday gift from Mr. Morris last year.
As a surprise, he dug out a creek bed along a side yard and lined it with stones he had salvaged from an old chimney. A pump circulates water from the pond through the creek.
This season she planted the banks with clumps of Queen Anne's Lace, Lamb's ear, rose campion, ornamental grasses and other green things.
Mrs. Morris trained morning glory vines up a rustic-looking frame that was crafted from copper tubing and slender wooden poles. "People say it looks like a still," said Mrs. Morris, who made the frame.
The poles, stripped of their bark, were the work of a beaver colony.
Her husband "picked up a whole bunch of (sticks), thinking there's got to be something we can do with them," said Mrs. Morris.
A deck sweeps around the back of the house, overlooking the creek and the lake.
"The running water out here is just so pleasant. When you are sitting out here you realize a lot of people would pay to go somewhere to have this, and we live right here," she said.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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