Serene Retreat

Melanie Turner and Stan Benecki fashion a light and bright rosemary beach beauty.

Walking into this recently completed Rosemary Beach house designed by Melanie Turner is a bit like stepping into an intoxicating dream cushioned with bright sunshine. The all-white scheme dazzles, blurring distinctions between walls, floors, surfaces and textiles.

As your eyes adjust to take in the details, you notice touches such as the luster of the Venetian plaster walls, the veining of stone and marble and the textures of coral and agate. The three-story house, designed by Lew Oliver and built by Turner’s husband, Stan Benecki, is one of many houses the duo has designed, built and furnished together.

Benecki calls on top-notch architects for the plans and employs craftspeople he flies in for each project—masons, plasterers and roofers whose collective expertise shows in the precise fitting of each molding and eave. “We build each house as if it was for us,” says Turner. “And we include everything we love, because we build houses we’d want to live in.”

When the new owners arrive for the first time, they find the house complete right down to artwork and accessories. The baths are stocked with towels and toothbrushes, the beds crisply made. It’s a turnkey operation that has resulted in a series of luxury properties bearing witness to the couple’s exacting standards and impeccable taste.

This most recent example, bought by Atlantans Bert Sanders and Laura Koch, comfortably accommodates 16 for hosting their blended family, but is intimate enough for just the two of them. For an all-white scheme, it’s also incredibly easy to maintain. “I covered much of the furniture in white pleather,” says Turner of the dining area and living room, which extend across the back of the house. In the adjacent kitchen area, all of the inner workings are concealed behind flush cabinetry with inset hardware. The effect is calming, with even the island clad entirely in marble, its waterfall edge extending to the floor. Speakers are built into the plaster walls so that music seems to emanate from an invisible source.

Benecki points out that, as people spend more time in their second homes, they’re more in need of the requisite amenities of a primary residence. “So we put in large closets and laundry rooms,” he says,  “as well as an area for kids to hang out away from the adults.” The top floor serves just such a need, with six bunks lining the walls and an open expanse of floor for playing with toys and games. Turner opted to swath the walls in a bird-print Schumacher wallpaper, which introduces a youthful dose of color and softens the angles of the room’s dormers.

The indoor living area connects seamlessly with the pool deck, thanks to wide French doors and broad steps leading outdoors. On a recent afternoon, Sanders and Koch carried on a conversation, she standing at the kitchen island and he responding from a chaise by the water. The couple joked that the high-tech control system was cool indeed, but that they had no idea how to use it. No doubt they’ll figure it out. And if they don’t, Benecki is right down the street, starting on his next dream house.


ARCHITECTURE Lew Oliver, Whole Town Solutions. 880 Marietta Hwy., Ste. 630-342. Roswell 30075. (770) 643-3938;
INTERIOR DESIGN Melanie Turner, Melanie Turner Interiors, 30 West Wieuca Rd. NE, Suite 209, Atlanta 30342. (404) 250-0134;
BUILDER Stan Benecki, Benecki Fine Homes, 130 West Wieuca Rd. NE, Suite 209, Atlanta 30342. (404) 250-0999;