Tour a Modern Mediterranean Home on Sea Island

Bursting with color, texture, beautiful accents, and stunning architectural details, a coastal retreat exudes a laid-back sophistication that is just right for the Golden Isles

For the owners of a marsh-front home on Sea Island, this is a meeting place. It’s a place to gather with their beloved family, to commune with the natural bounty of the barrier island, and to reconnect with favorite pastimes. It’s a place where sophistication and relaxation meet too—where joy can be sparked by the patina of a treasured Parisian antique or the sight of children running free.

This motif of confluence and balance is also evident in the home’s architecture, grounds, and interior style. Architect Thad Truett drew on Sea Island’s Mediterranean Revival vernacular to create a home that sports a formal facade that marries pleasingly with its laid-back rear and pool cabana.

Atlanta-based landscape designer Alex Smith drew on these themes to craft grounds that reflect Truett’s vision. A parterre garden of Grace Hendrick Phillips’ boxwoods, dwarf mondo grass, and crushed limestone reinforces the facade’s classical entry of engaged columns and entablature pediment.

On the marsh side, a sweeping loggia and soaring windows overlook the river and wetlands beyond. The landscape here is strong and simple, says Smith, who placed a live oak and native grasses along the seawall to create an infinity-edge pool effect, with the plantings respecting and relating to marsh grasses.

“Above all, we aimed to create a timeless home that you wouldn’t want to change in 20, 30 years,” says Truett. In a twist on tradition, Truett and interior designers Adrian Cate and Bethany Vann of Johnson Vann Interiors painted exterior accents a cheerful blue that pays homage to the home’s coastal station.

Inside, the hue is a strong but balanced force too. “The very first time we met with the homeowner, she brought a Delft blue-and-white paperweight in and said, ‘I want my house to feel like this,’” says Cate. “She loved its beauty and simplicity, and the house really feels like that.”

In the kitchen, a box of antique blue tile discovered by the homeowner in a favorite antique shop was sunk right into the plaster of the backsplash. Instead of double islands, which would have felt heavy, Cate and Vann installed a counter-height grasscloth table swathed in blue lacquer, which has become not only a visual focal point but a hub of activity, where adults can perch with coffee and laptops and kids can fuel up for beach adventures.

Blue-and-white chinoiserie wallpaper peeks through the dual archways that frame the range and open to the mud hall. Beyond, a glossy blue butler’s pantry hosts the homeowner’s collection of serveware found in a St. Simons antiques store.

In the sunroom, the palette and furnishings play off the outdoors. “We made a point not to put any window treatments in the sunroom to maximize the view,” says Cate. Natural textures—whimsical wicker palms and large-scale rattan pendants—mimic the tawny marsh grasses, and the continuation of blue feels like it was pulled straight from the river and sky.

And though the space is grand, it feels cozy. “Whether it’s a quiet dinner party or a full house, this home really lives well,” says Vann. “The terracotta floor brings a warmth to the space and makes it feel like it might have been an old porch at one point.”

The formality is dialed up in the living room, but not overly so. Cate and Vann began with a pair of Zuber panels, which serendipitously framed the fireplace perfectly. From there, the palette was informed by the hues in the Oushak rug. A pair of tuxedo sofas upholstered in chenille invite repose and animal-print chairs add energy. “We kept a careful eye to balance out our selections so it didn’t feel stiff,” says Cate.

The serene primary bedroom leans traditional, but “the gray colorway in the floral Schumacher chintz is a little bit edgy,” says Cate. The homeowner’s dressing room, wrapped in a scenic Iksel panel and outfitted with jib doors, feels like a chinoiserie jewel box garden room, says Vann.

Upstairs, the homeowners paid special attention to hosting their ever-growing brood of grandchildren, whose number doubled from six to 12 during the construction of their beach retreat. Two bunkrooms and a kid-friendly living room, plus a newer hangout above the garage dubbed “the nest,” are primed to host the young clan for what the homeowners lovingly call “cousin camp.” These days are helmed by the grandparents and filled with the bounty of the Golden Isles and the wonder of each other—swimming, sand dollar hunts, beach walks, biking, and shaving cream fights. It’s a meeting place that will make memories they will treasure for a lifetime.

INTERIOR DESIGN Adrian Cate and Bethany Vann, Johnson Vann Interiors, (912) 638-4733; ARCHITECT Thad Truett, Thomas Thaddeous Truett Architect, P.C.; landscape DESIGN Alex Smith, Alex Smith Garden Design Ltd., (770) 455-8878; BUILDER Russell White Construction, (912) 638-5953