Coastal Calm

A lavishly layered Rosemary Beach retreat reads more like a primary residence at the hands of Melanie Turner

Renee and russ Plumb are no strangers to working with Melanie Turner; the interior designer has worked with the couple on a total of four projects, which include a family dwelling in East Cobb and an in-town condominium at the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Buckhead. With their two sons grown, the Plumbs decided it was time to trade in their suburban house for a beach retreat that could double as a seaside escape and primary residence. When Russ wanted to surprise his wife with a Rosemary Beach home that fit the bill, calling upon Turner—who has completed more than 15 projects in the area and is in the process of building a Rosemary Beach design studio and store—to bring his vision to life once again was a no-brainer.

Along with architect Lew Oliver and builder Stan Benecki, Turner wasted no time in cultivating a relaxed yet sophisticated abode that had the ease of a beach house, as well as all the comforts of a full-time home. To achieve this balance, the designer kept the interiors light and airy, carefully layering touches that wouldn’t normally be included in a vacation home—high-quality artwork, an abundance of accessories, thoughtfully selected draperies and high-end furniture.

“It’s traditional in that it lives like a primary residence instead of a secondary residence because it has more layers.”  Turner says. “Rosemary has changed from being small little beach cottages to people now in their 50s wanting to be there full-time.”

Though the home’s color palette is largely composed of calming neutrals, Turner also peppered pops of plum throughout, as a hint of color and a nod to her clients’ name. “It’s the common thread throughout,” Turner says. “Their last name is Plumb, and Renee looks great in it. It just made sense.” Casual linen fabrics, stripes and organic materials embrace the beachside setting, while clever solutions keep the home from feeling over-decorated. In the living room, for instance, Turner concealed the televisions behind a pair of landscape paintings by Nashville artist Charlotte Terrell. Similarly, brass mesh doors in the kitchen create a seamless effect while minimizing clutter.

“It’s the key pieces that you put in a space,” says Turner. “The whole house is very light; you walk in and the nice thing about it is it’s not all in your face, but at the same time it’s really open.” To complement this openness, Turner paid close attention to scale, selectively incorporating larger furnishings to create balance and using dark hues to anchor rooms. In the dining area, which is open to the front door, Turner incorporated a large yet unadorned chandelier to fill space without appearing busy. A moody Todd Murphy painting creates contrast against light floors, fabrics and sideboard, while an antique cowhide rug adds a touch of texture.

This careful balance allows the house to serve as a fully functioning home, where the Plumbs can enjoy their empty nester years. “Everybody’s lifestyles change; you go from small when you start out, to big when you have the kids, back down to small,” says Turner. “That’s the beauty of it, it’s wonderful to see the change.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Melanie Turner, Melanie Turner Interiors (404) 250-0134; BUILDER Stan Benecki, Benecki Homes (404) 250-0999; ARCHITECT Lew Oliver