The sitting room hosts the Travis sofa covered in a C&C Milano linen from Paul with taping on the bottom from Samuel & Sons accompanied by curtains by Cowtan & Tout and vintage bamboo chairs. The custom little chair is covered in a Cowtan & Tout weave designed by Dina Varner’s workroom. PHOTOGRAPHED BY READ MCKENDREE
When Dina Varner and the VPI Design team were enlisted to revamp a 1980s classic Sea Island estate, they transformed it into much more than just a vacation home.
Sitting on the Georgia coast, in Sea Island, rests a grand yet quaint estate shrouded in traditional Southern coastal architecture. Surrounded by greenery and peppered with mossy oaks and palm trees whose fronds rustle in the salty air, the island serves as a peaceful backdrop for the estate, which has been beautifully redesigned as a holiday home meant to act as a retreat for wistful travelers for years to come. ‘Beach cottage’ is used to classify this Sea Island estate, but while the home may have all the welcoming air of a quaint retreat by the sea, it is not for its lack of grandeur. Standing around 8,000 square feet with its six bedrooms, 7 ½ bathrooms and accompanying guesthouse, the Beach Cottage serves as the quintessential family getaway home for its owners, an Atlanta-based family whose patriarch has been vacationing on the island since childhood. And what better way to further a legacy of salty-aired summers than to carry it on to the next generation in the form of a fully tailored home in that very same place?
The couch from Travis and Company is covered in a ROMO linen fabric with custom pillows designed by VPI and chairs from Baker Furniture, and the painting over the mantel is a Tommye Easterlin original. PHOTOGRAPHED BY READ MCKENDREE
The early 1980s Mediterranean-style home, while charming in its own right, was in need of a bit of TLC to truly allow the estate to shine as it was intended. A bit of soul needed to be added to the cottage’s bones, and that’s precisely what Dina Varner of VPI Design and her team—Tommye Easterlin, Amber Gates, Suci Jackson and Chandler Quirk—accomplished when they were elected to revamp the space. What followed was a complete renovation of the property’s interiors, including both the main and guesthouse. The result was an easygoing, beachy property whose classical exterior gives way to a brightly colored, intentionally designed space perfect for a coastal getaway. Varner and her team hoped to incorporate the clients’ bubbly personalities into the property, exemplified by the swaths of varying color palettes, prints and textures galore. “The home and architecture are very traditional, but the client likes a lot of color and modern accents, so our challenge was to combine the traditional feel of the architecture with modern and colorful interiors,” says Varner. “We used lots of bright fabrics and drapes and mixed some antiques with modern or midcentury furniture and lighting to integrate the personality of our client with the conservative style of the house.” The design team incorporated this juxtaposition of styles, colors and textures with the home’s architecture to create a contrasting effect that melds seamlessly not only in decor but with the owners’ vision for their second home.
Kitchen countertops are Plumeria from Waterworks with sleek cabinets built by Merritt Cabinetry. The gold wall lights are the AERIN Charlton lights from Circa Lighting. The fridges are Sub-Zero with Waterworks plumbing, dishwashers are Miele, and ovens, stove and warming drawers are Wolf. PHOTOGRAPHED BY READ MCKENDREE
One detail of the home’s design plan was that it would be made a space ideal for easy entertaining. The cottage’s owners wanted a space that would be able to host all their family and friends—a second home to be shared and cherished among many more than the original subjects. Because when a holiday home is filled with warmth and life and laughter, it should not be deemed as second, but rather just another home. A design that facilitates this sort of affectionate hospitality is certainly found in the Beach Cottage. The pool area has plenty of space and seating for late-summer barbecues and Fourth of July celebrations. And dotted throughout the property, we continue to see guests at the forefront of its design. The kitchen is one of these spaces. The light- filled cooking area has not only one island, but two—one for preparing scrumptious fare and one for hungry patrons to keep the chef (or chefs) company while they sit eagerly by, chatting and snacking on sumptuous hors d’oeuvres. The islands are fitted with Waterworks Plumeria marble on the countertops, accented with a richly dark paint and gold hardware, fitted by Matthew Quinn and Circa Lighting, that contrasts the airiness of the rest of the space’s eggshell palette and light walnut accents. In the kitchen and throughout the rest of the home, Waterworks plumbing is featured. And in the pantry, life-size crab pulls by Matthew Quinn complement the coastal feel of the home—adding to the whimsical feel the design manages to achieve while remaining sophisticated and classic.
Pecky cypress doors are indigenous to the soils in the coastal area of Georgia and are designed by Dina Varner paired with Circa Lighting’s Turenne medium globe pendant. PHOTOGRAPHED BY READ MCKENDREE
Wandering into the formal dining room puts you face-to-face with a sweeping art deco chandelier that complements the soft geometric accents throughout the space. Cheerful floral drapery by Cowtan & Tout peppered throughout the home brightens the room, and complements the colorful art featured both in the dining room as well as throughout the rest of the interior, including a painting in the family room by artist Kim Schuessler. Each of these elements serves to create the picture the Beach Cottages’ owners hoped to achieve by integrating loads of brightness and lively design into the home’s conventional structure The details in this home are what truly make it shine, and native woods local to the Sea Island vicinity are showcased frequently throughout the Beach Cottage. The heart pine floors throughout the interior add a sense of richness and a rustic feel that remains authentic to the property. Native pecky cypress beamed ceilings further connect this home to its local landscape—a true representation of coastal Georgia. Pecky cypress is also featured in the grand double doors leading to the private home office, which also has a custom hide rug from Stark Carpets, whose geometric patterns are reminiscent of mod styles from the 1960s and ’70s. These minutiae— details that create a whole greater than their individual parts—contribute to the homey yet sophisticated atmosphere that is palpable throughout the estate.
Behind the study desk from Century Furniture is a bookshelf made from cypress wood, designed by Dina Varner and built by Satilla Creek. PHOTOGRAPHED BY READ MCKENDREE
It is clear the Beach Cottage estate’s renovation has not only brought the 1980s home into the light of the modern day, but made the home into something entirely its own. Varner and her entire design team were able to realize the owners’ visions for their second home, bringing merry, polished design to the Georgia coast.
The primary bedroom hosts custom chairs covered in a ROMO fabric, a custom bed and headboard covered in Cowtan & Tout’s Palma Bottle Green velvet, drapes from Cowtan & Tout in Haywood Leaf, pillow fabric by ROMO, as well as antique vintage art deco bedside lamps found by the designer. PHOTOGRAPHED BY READ MCKENDREE
The front of the home features a spacious yard and lush greenery. PHOTOGRAPHED BY READ MCKENDREE
Location: Sea Island
Type: Single-family home
Interior Design: Dina Varner, Tommye Easterlin, Amber Gates, Suci Jackson and Chandler Quirk, VPI Design by Dina Varner, vpi-design.com
Casamance | Ainsworth Noah
Hallway pendant lighting
Cowtan & Tout
Office bookshelf, kitchen cabinets
Powder room wallpaper
Kitchen and bar marble countertops