OME GRAND SPACES
call for prim, pinkieraised etiquette. Others, though equally magnificent, exude a sense of kick-offyour-shoes mischief. For a recent project on Sea Island, Georgia, interior designer Sara Gilbane knew exactly which spirit to channel: a language of romance, fantasy, and play widely circulated in the 1920s and ’30s by architect Addison Mizner in legacy-making projects like the Cloister (Sea Island’s legendary hotel) and Palm Beach’s now iconic Mediterranean-revival vernacular (a style he helped author).
It was a language Gilbane found ripe for adaptation for her clients, a gregarious family of six (plus three pets). They’d acquired a shingled pink cottage right on the ocean that they hoped to revive and reform into a lively second home. But however romantic their plans, they weren’t practical. Sea Island, a slim, five-mile-long barrier island halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, sees its share of hurricanes as well as ongoing corrosion from damp, salty air. “Once they’d accepted that it was a teardown, the clients opted to build something that could fit them and their family and friends forever,” says Gilbane.
Local architect Thad Truett was tapped to design the new residence. His goal was “to carry on the spirit of the original Mediterranean-style house, while making it as high-tech and sturdy as possible,” he says. To ensure the structure could withstand the next 150 years’ worth of tempests, Truett sunk 65-foot pilings into the earth to anchor the 8,900-square-foot house, then gave it 16-inch-thick exterior walls fitted with steel-casement windows and doors. As for that early-20th-century enchantment? There was plenty of that, too, with sweeping balconies, graceful arches, and grand fireplaces throughout, not to mention ceilings clad in dramatic,
Jewel-like teals, greens, and saffrons suit
the hues of the sea, which is “not a tropical turquoise but a deep, murky blue-green.”
—INTERIOR DESIGNER SARA GILBANE