Third-generation Lotawana residents preserve family history in their home remodel.
When Perry and Kathy Atha gather with family and friends at their Lake Lotawana home, they meet with memories around the dining room table that belonged to Perry’s grandparents, Russel Sr. and Helen. Perry remembers his grandmother always kept a lollipop box and Eskimo Pies to treat her 16 grandchildren when they visited. Today, the Athas treasure the history that comes along with the vacation home that’s been in the family since 1938.
“It’s really nice being able to have coffee or cocktails and look out the window, knowing you’re enjoying the same view as two generations before you,” says Perry. “Some things at the lake don’t ever change, which is wonderful.”
The Athas’ Union Cove home, built in 1929 by Leo Kohler, truly represents a family retreat. Perry grew up in the home directly behind it, and now his son’s family stays there. His brother’s home is next door, and his cousin is two doors down. While it’s primarily a summer residence, the Athas enjoy all the lake has to offer year-round, from boating in the summer to ice boating and skating in the winter.
“Some of our favorite time out here is in the fall when the lake gets a little quieter and the trees are changing,” they say.
When the Athas sought to remodel the home in 2015, they wanted the updates to result in a sense of place that still felt familiar, keeping with the traditional style and feel. They worked with NSPJ architects Tim Homburg and Rick Jones and contractor Greg Smetanka to complete functional and aesthetic updates within the home’s original footprint. Kathy Atha was heavily involved in design decisions.
Contractors replaced the home’s original electrical, plumbing, windows and roof. In addition, they changed the configuration of the kitchen and the second floor of the home to fit with the conveniences of modern life. Previously, guests had to walk outside to get to a downstairs bedroom, but the remodel provided a stairway inside the house to access the room from indoors. The guest cabin, built for Athas’ aunt in 1941, was connected to the main water and sewer line of the house.
Even though the home’s floor plan was reconfigured, it was important to the homeowners to retain many original components and incorporate them into the new design.
For example, metal cabinets and stainless countertops were salvaged and used in the new kitchen. The playful fish-patterned navy wallpaper in the first-floor bath evokes a memory of the fish on the wall in the bathroom when the home was inhabited by his grandparents.
“It has the same feel as it did back then – bookcases on either end of the fireplace, photographs and sailboats from the 1930s – I’m probably too much of a sentimentalist,” Perry says. “There are lots of artifacts and things we wanted to retain and keep original.”
The Atha home and six others can be viewed during the Lake Lotawana Homes Tour, October 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour is sponsored by the Lake Lotawana Community Club. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling Carol Keller at (913) 909-6376 or via the 2018 Lake Lotawana Homes Tour Facebook page.