…and another room with a view, and another, and another…
By Julianne Winkler Smith | Photography by Woody G. Watts
Bill and Marianne Pecoraro may not be full-time residents on Smith Mountain Lake, but for 35 years this community has been their home away from home. Listen carefully as you proceed up the unpaved road leading to the house, and the crunching gravel under the car tires creates a gentle drumroll of expectancy. Pulling up, the lake can be seen on either side of the modern structure like an embrace. And, when the majestic front doors open to welcome you in, the word “breathtaking” finds new definition. With stunning views of clear lake water and mountain peaks from nearly every room, it’s easy to miss the simple elegance of the home itself.
While living in Connecticut, Marianne’s family may not have discovered the gem of Smith Mountain Lake were it not for her brother. An avid fisherman, he had visited a few times for guided fishing excursions. Once her parents were able to vacation on the lake—all eight kids in tow—Marianne’s mom knew they had to own a piece of this little paradise. “Once they bought their Dixie Acres house in 1984, my parents moved to Charlottesville to be closer to the lake,” Marianne says. All the siblings (along with their various friends and significant others tagging along) visited frequently. “Because the house had only two bedrooms, we always fought for who got to sleep inside,” she recalls. “But even if you relegated to sleeping in a tent outside or on the garage floor, it was still a great time.”
It wasn’t long after Marianne’s parents purchased their cabin that her boyfriend Bill became one of its frequent visitors. College students at the time, but certain of a future together, the couple became more enamored with the area with each visit and talked of having their own place someday. Seventeen years later, in 2002, that youthful dream became reality. “We were able to find a house across the lake from Marianne’s parents,” Bill says, “so we got to enjoy the family fun, and we never had to sleep on the garage floor again!”
Bill and Marianne reside just outside of Richmond in Moseley. Bill has a veterinarian practice and Marianne is an occupational therapist. They are a vibrant, outgoing pair, and the 15 years of weekly summer trips to the lake with their three kids were filled with bustling lake activity and boisterous laughter. But through the years, as their boat glided away from their quiet cove to circle the lake, Bill’s eyes would stop on a nearby disheveled property that sat on a prominent point down the creek.
“There was this older red A-frame house,” Bill recalls, “and every year I watched it go into greater disrepair. But the view of the ‘V’—a well-known mountain feature—was phenomenal.”
After more than a decade of witnessing further decline and eventually thinking the owner may be overwhelmed by the property, the Pecoraros asked a local realtor friend to approach the owner about selling. At that time, however, he told her he wasn’t interested.
About three weeks later, they received a call from their realtor friend, saying, “You’ll never believe who just walked into the office and wants to sell.”
“We literally went in the house just once after we bought it in 2018—it was moldy and dilapidated,” Marianne says. “But you could still see how nice it was in its heyday—and, of course, the view was gorgeous. But we were so excited to build our own unique dream house.”
To design their vision, the couple hired resident architect Eric Buck. And when it was time to bring those plans to fruition, local builder Phil Floyd (Floyd Enterprises) was tasked with the project, which lasted a year and a half. According to Bill, “We thought carefully about making every space purposeful, knowing this would be our empty-nest haven, as well as a place for our kids to start their own traditions with our future grandchildren.”
The Craftsman-style home has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. On the main level, a large combined great room and kitchen space visually open onto the lake, as the back-facing wall is almost completely glass. Upstairs, another bedroom over the garage with three full-size beds awaits friends and extended family. The couple created a spacious downstairs area with their adult kids in mind. “The large rec room and bar are perfect for our kids to hang out long after we go to bed,” Marianne says. “The most important thing for us was to have plenty of outdoor living space, because we’re typically outside from our morning cup of coffee to when we go to sleep.”
The home’s main level features a huge screened porch with a dining table, seating area, and fireplace, which serves as a three-season living area. Adjacent to the screened area and attached to the master bedroom, another covered porch makes for a picture-perfect area for the couple’s quiet morning coffee talk—rain or shine. Downstairs, a spacious patio for additional dining and lounging leads to a propane firepit to gather with friends and family. A hot tub is tucked against the house nearby, adding another water element to lake living.
Every room in the home is beautifully designed—clean and unpretentious, with thoughtfully placed lake-house décor for a laidback feel. “We were very intentional about the placement of every room and window,” Bill says, “because the whole house is really all about the views.”
Now empty nesters (their kids are 27, 22, and 18), Marianne and Bill are more often alone in their lakeside sanctuary than with their children, but they’re definitely enjoying this new season of life on Smith Mountain Lake.
Bill describes their love for this community. “After 35 years, this place continues to be my heaven on earth. Hearing the birds, watching the water change color and texture—it’s so peaceful.” Marianne adds that being at the lake grounds her. “We slow down here,” she says. “And, because we’ve been coming for so long, we have so many amazing memories.”
Now, with their new dream home complete and new memories to be made, they can start writing their next chapter of life on Smith Mountain Lake.