Our oceanfront Idea House, located on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, mixes nostalgic beach-home style with modern building technology.

By Cathy Still Johnson
October 10, 2002
North Carolinian Sara Switzer painted much of the artwork specifically for this house. She worked with decorator Linda Woodrum on themes, colors, and sizes. "Some artists would snort at painting for a house," says Sara. "But to think about all the element
Deborah Whitlaw

Architect George Graves is accustomed to the challenges of buildingnear the sea. With years of experience--seven dedicated solely toBald Head Island--he has a pretty good idea of what will work andwhat won't. George tailored the plan for this house, the first onCape Fear Station's beachfront, to maximize ocean views andpreserve Bald Head's natural beauty.

The entry hall immediately establishes the plan's sense ofairiness. An open staircase bends and climbs toward thesecond-floor landing and 20-foot ceiling. Built-in shelves house acollection of locally made Nantucket lightship baskets, seashells,and beach reads.

The palette is so succinct that colors flow seamlesslythroughout the great room's three areas: living, dining, andsitting. On the room's two sofas, a tawny silk weave is visuallyreminiscent of burlap--but surprises the touch with smoothsoftness. Abundant rattan tables stand ready to hold cocktails oran interrupted book.

The expansive kitchen, separated from the great room by acounter bar, mixes the latest conveniences with contemporarydesign. For cabinetry, the design team chose dove-tailed maple withQuaker styling and bronze knobs to stay true to the simpleaesthetic. Stainless steel appliances and chrome fixtures addreflective accents.

George designed four bedrooms in the main house with a family inmind. In the dormerlike space upstairs, a large bedroom isdecorated in marsh browns and greens. Adding a touch of thetropics, carved pineapple--a symbol of welcome used throughout thehome--cap a king-size leather and raffia bed. A duneside bedroom isdressed in rich tones defined by dark wood blinds. For impact,designer Linda Woodrum placed the bed against the three windows. Inthe oceanside bedroom, a palm motif reigns. The accent crops up onneutral bedding, lamps, the rug, even the finials on the canopybed. Silky to the touch, cotton linens layered in complementarytones whisper of island breezes and lazy afternoons.

The upstairs centers on the study/media area. Just off thestaircase and accessed by French doors, this "away room," as Georgecalls it, offers a handsome retreat.

Room for outdoor living at a beach house is essential. Ideally,you need spaces for entertaining, a lounge area to catch rays,shady porches, and quiet corners for naps. George gave the houseall these functions with plenty of decking and porches. A deepporch stretches across the front and to a side, screened porch thatopens onto the back porch and deck.

The attached guesthouse serves several purposes. Besides privacyfor visitors, it gives family members a getaway from the mainhouse. Outfitted with a full bath, galley kitchen, outdoor shower,pullout sofa, skirted dining table, and TV armoire, this cozy spacefills all the needs of a complete house.

Take a virtualtour of this house.