Welcome to the Coastal Living 2004 Cottage of the Year. Step inside for inspiring ideas from our talented design team.

By Sarah Brueggemann
September 01, 2004

Living Room
The cottage's front door opens onto a welcoming great room swathed in warm, earthy tones. "This place was historically a hunting camp," says interior designer Linda Woodrum, "and I wanted the house to have a natural, masculine feel."

Accessories reflect the home's embrace of the outdoors. Faux bois (fake wood) urns on burlap-covered pedestals flank the entry. Fanciful birds prepare to take flight from throw pillows. A woven sea-grass basket, endemic to the Lowcountry, rests on a coffee table with barley-twist legs.

Architectural elements contribute to the richly textured space. The walls' horizontal boards and simple molding give the room depth. "I love the detailing," says Linda. "We painted the ceilings because it shows off the fantastic trimwork." She adds, "Some people feel that painting the ceiling makes the room feel lower, but it's not true."

Linda also bends the rules by combining different wood finishes. "I believe you can mix all types of wood together," she says. "They have an inherent connection that always works." A tight-back, leather, West Indies-style sofa boasts ratcheted arms that fold down, turning the couch into an extra sleeper. Two heavily distressed ebony dressers and mirrors border the kitchen's center entrance. Dark-chocolate-stained antique heart-pine flooring extends throughout the house, allowing the rooms to melt into one another.

Distinctive artwork, including sepia photographs of farmland displayed in relief on acid-washed metal, adds a dash of personality. A South Carolina landscape by artist West Fraser hangs above the fireplace's antique heart-pine mantel. To unite all of the hues, Linda chose woven rugs with slashes of russet, sage, and pumpkin.

But, she says, "It's not just about the fabrics and furniture; it's about the environment you create."

Kitchen/Dining Area
"The kitchen holds little clues about how we tried to reinvent the past," says Linda. A soft gray color on the walls and ceiling mimics decades-old whitewashed limestone. Seeded-glass cabinetry, thick with bubbles, lends character. "This room could have been here 100 years ago, but we did add plumbing," Linda says, laughing.

Despite its old-world charm, the kitchen delivers modern conveniences. A stainless-steel refrigerator uses a multichannel airflow system to remove odor and excess humidity?a must in this seaside environment. The frost-free freezer is located at the bottom of the unit. A wine refrigerator stores up to 54 bottles. A 36-inch stove features high-performance burners and contoured controls.

Other appliances hide in an oversize island with a deep stainless sink and shelved storage under an African Iroko hardwood countertop. In the dining area, leather-covered seating with nail-head trim surrounds a trestle table. At the ends, two cushy wing chairs ensure the space will be used well past mealtime.

"An entryway should tell you about the entire house," says Linda. This side entrance evidences the warm color palette and strong symmetry that recur in each room. Sunflowers peer out of a salvaged smoke-charred chimney at the bottom of the staircase. Black spool lamps and a metal sculpture of pears rest on the credenza. "The pears on a pedestal are a little off balance," Linda says. "It lets visitors know that there are going to be some surprises in this home."

Two bold abstract paintings enliven the cream-colored master bedroom. "I love that everything in this room is so traditional, and then the modern art adds just a punch of color," says Linda. "The painting's browns and coppery golds relate well to the wicker and wood tones," she explains. 

Master Bedroom
A stately four-poster bed, topped with layers of plush white linens, anchors the room. The hand embroidery, scalloped edges, and fringed detailing on the pillows have an antique feel. "It's a quiet way to add depth," Linda says.

Other design choices overlay patterns. A pillow with graphic pineapples rests against a beige-and-white-checked club chair. The lines repeat in a large-checked throw and striped rug. The wallpaper's subtle texture draws the eye upward to the vaulted ceiling. Linda says, "When your focus is texture, it's all about the little details."

Twin Bedroom
The greenish-gray bedroom upstairs is a botanist's dream. "Its wall color has a wonderful relationship with the Spanish moss draped from the live oaks outside," says Linda. Natural linen sheers flow from the windows in a similarly wispy way.

Pineapples cap the headboards of both twin beds. Two upholstered club chairs with embroidered fern pillows nestle up to a dresser. "The scale of this room is cozier and more inviting, perfect for children," says Linda.

Architect Joel Newman added details such as crisp trimwork and dormers to impart a cottage feel. "The dormer creates great angles," Linda says. "This room had its own personality before I even put anything in."

Guest Bedroom
"There's a wonderful serenity in all the bedrooms, but especially this one," says Linda. Satiny linens with bamboo brocade and a simple, snowy quilt dress the queen-size whitewashed rattan and wood sleigh bed. Above it hangs a large distressed mirror, which reflects the opposing bank of three windows. "It casts light," she says, "and gives the room another view outside."

In an alcove, a tufted chaise longue and cashmere throw offer the perfect spot to peruse the morning newspaper. "This room is about relaxation," says Linda. "There's nothing here to distract the eye." The only decorations are plucked from the garden and the sea. Coral and puffy sand dollars called sea biscuits fill trays. Dainty white shells trim the draperies.

Linda's subdued palette extends to the smallest particular. A nubby beige rug has light-green threads woven into it that mimic the hue of the walls and ceiling. "I kept finding different ways to repeat color," she says. "Even the room's shiny brass lamp bases pick up on the pale gold in the chaise's pillows."

At the top of the stairs, where there could have been wasted space, the architect chose to build a cozy sitting area. Linda added a bedroom size desk to use the spot as an impromptu office. "We carved out a small room that's functional, perfect for paperwork, daydreaming, reading," she says. "It's a little escape loft."

The daring red wall color and such exotic elements as a faux tortoise-and-rattan lamp prove that business doesn't have to be boring, even when it's dragging you away from the water. The East Indies-style desk with a distressed oak top supplies a stylish laptop surface.

Large, plush pillows rest along the window seat and on the tailored club chair. Rich brown and gold tones unite the varying fabrics. An embroidered coral design on one prominent pillow subtly references other coastal locales. Above, the shade features funky beaded fringe. These small details give the room warmth and depth.

Floor plan
Joel Newman designed this house with expansive sections as well as small, intimate spaces. "The principal places for daytime activity?the kitchen, dining area, and great room?have to flow into one another," says the architect. "You want them to have continuity." But the upstairs den and bedrooms offer "places to tuck in and have privacy," he says. This makes the layout perfect for families with children or rotating groups of visitors.

Outdoor Spaces
"Each outdoor living area has a different character because of its location and amenities," says Joel. But all of the exterior spaces encourage homeowners to interact with the environment. "You might not go sit under a tree," says Joel, "but you would definitely sit out on the porch or patio and enjoy the view."

The side porch's wicker furnishings, arranged in two groupings, wear light charcoal cushions and gray-and-white striped pillows. "I love this whole palette; it's really soft and muted," says Linda. The designer aimed to kindle a sophisticated, understated mood. Silvery dried palmetto leaves sprout from a centerpiece. Gas lanterns flicker romantically at dusk. "It's my urban interpretation of a Southern porch," she says.

But because of the durable materials, adults will still feel comfortable with children romping around the room. The fabrics are rain resistant and pillow-fight proof. A retractable screen opens for a clear view, or closes to protect against insects. "This has the look of a bygone porch, but the ease of maintenance with modern products," says Linda. "People want the look, but not the worry."

With a backdrop of awe-inspiring oaks, the landscape architects chose plantings that would fit seamlessly into the environment. "The scale of the plants is low because the trees are so large and magnificent," says Shannon Lindsay of The Greenery, Inc. "We didn't want to compete with them."

lan Jackson adds, "We also used low plantings in the front to show off the building's attractive foundation." The effect is both welcoming and trim. Taller bushes grow behind the house for privacy, but many species appear all around the property. "We found plants that would grow in both shade and sun, to give consistency to the back and front yards," says Alan.

The landscapers selected varieties based on the area's high temperatures and specific soil quality. Azaleas and camellias flourish here. "You'll only see six or seven types of plants," says Alan. "In a small lot like this, if you use too many things it gets busy." But, he adds, "We included enough diversity so there'd be blooms and fragrances at alternating times of the year."

Builder Notes
"The biggest challenges in our area are the building requirements," says Joel. Seaside homes must adhere to stringent hurricane codes. The design team used 2- by 6-inch exterior walls, impact-rated windows, and cellulose insulation to create an extremely solid home.

"In the event of a hurricane, I know this house wouldn't just blow away," says builder Richard Young of J.T. Turner Construction. The tie-down system's threaded rods start from the foundation, go through the walls, and attach to the roof. Richard's also sure the banks of glass won't shatter. "These windows go through a testing process where a cannon shoots 2-by-4s at them at 130 miles per hour," he says.

Other materials were chosen to emulate the Lowcountry aesthetic. "When you think of a beach house from the '30s and '40s, you think of exposed studs and boarding," says Joel. "This cottage is evocative of a much simpler style." Contemporary builders must use insulation, but the spare trimwork recalls that era. Both outside and in, the team used manufactured brick that has an older, hand-molded character. Smears of mortar add to the aged look. And with time, the exterior copper flashing will verdigris beautifully.

Metal roofs crown a number of homes in the village. Manufactured in a spectrum of colors, they create an interesting streetscape. "It helps the town look like it evolved over time, since people might prefer different styles through the years," Joel says. And the roofs have the added benefit of being durable and practically maintenance-free.

"Building in the coastal environment takes extra work," admits Richard. "But the results are bulletproof."

Special Thanks
Coastal Living would like to extend our appreciation to Boral Brick, Farrow & Ball, West Fraser, Louis Sterling, McElroy Metal, NDI, Lynn Parrott, Phantom Screens, Samuel & Sons, Seasons South, and Vermilion. Your products and talents add a distinctive touch to our project.