Love and art meet in this waterfront Southport home.
photographs by stacy bass
The first thing you’ll notice when stepping into this home, located in Southport’s historic district, is the white space. The white walls are a breather from the cacophony of colors and sounds in the outside world. The second thing you’ll notice, if you’re lucky enough to visit during the day, is the light.
An abundance of light floods in through the first floor windows, which offer sweeping views of the water and a nearby golf course. Coupled with the golden hue of the hardwood floors, the home fills with a welcoming warmth. The light and these stunning views are a large part of what led the family to purchase this Colonial Revival home.
“It’s an ever-changing landscape,” the homeowner says. “You see the seasons, you see the wildlife, it’s exciting when there’s a storm. It’s beautiful at sunset. You don’t really tire of looking at the beauty.”
But why spend all of your time gazing out of the windows when there’s plenty of beauty to admire inside? When the family (husband, wife, and their three children) purchased the house in 2007, they could have hired a decorator to whip out the paint swatches and cover the whiteness. Instead, they saw the walls as a blank canvas. What better way for their eclectic art collection to really pop?
“We wanted there to be a lightness,” she continues, referring to the art. “We definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously.” Not convinced? By the door is a painting by Donald Roller Wilson of a monkey named Cookie, decked out in an elegant yellow dress. Laughing, the homeowner shares how Cookie tickled the family’s funnybone. This space’s inspiration is far from a stuffy art gallery.
From the doorway, the first floor of the home gracefully unfolds. “The vision for the interiors was to make full use of the view and elevation,” Jack Franzen, the architect who designed the house in 2003, says. “The main floor is one continuous room from end to end.” The open floor plan imparts a light, airy feel, especially in the living room.
“It’s the perfect party space,” the homeowner says. “It can hold a ton of people and you won’t feel like you’re squashed in.”
The living room is separated into two distinct seating areas. The white upholstered couches (plus one, in a cool burst of blue) invite you to sink in and enjoy the view out the sprawling windows.
Something about the living room makes you feel a sense of shelter and peace. “The house is so solid and so well built,” the homeowner says. “It feels very quiet and sturdy, very sturdy. You don’t see neighbors, you don’t hear them, even though it’s a busy street.”
It’s easy to think that you’re in a ship safely docked in a quiet harbor. A thought that feels right, once you notice the nautical-inspired details scattered around the home. Colorful antique Japanese fishing floats on shelves and in bowls seem buoyant enough to drift away. A custom table of reclaimed wood calls to mind the worn beams of a ship. The millwork walls of the library, elsewhere on the first floor, makes you feel like you’re in a ship captain’s quarters.
The cozy dining room is just off the living room. The space is home to two unique pieces. The newest piece in the house is a grid of mirrored tiles, placed on the wall opposite the dining room windows (“So that the people not facing the water can have a nice view, too,” the homeowner explains). A piece by the artist Jamali dominates another wall. “It’s super tactile,” she says. “I think he did part of it with his feet. You can actually see footprints in it. It’s such a big space and a big piece that it fills the room really nicely.”
Nearby is the kitchen, a hub for this foodie family. The space is smaller than the homeowner would like, since the previous owner wasn’t much of a cook. Because of the scale, you’d think that the black matte marble countertop and backsplash would make you feel claustrophobic. Instead, the depth is a welcome contrast to the white cabinetry and the brushed steel finishes. A powder room sits a few paces away, while the wine cellar and gym (a daily destination for husband and wife) wait downstairs.
“It’s a quirky house,” says the homeowner, leading the way up the gently curving staircase. “It’s really quite small in the number of people it can serve, but it’s large in size.” The second floor is home only to the master suite, while the kids share the third floor. Once you hit that second floor landing, it’s impossible not to notice the framed art by Robert Indiana: a series of six pieces bearing the word love. “We’re definitely very romantic and in love after twenty-five years,” says the homeowner.
Looking at the couple’s suite, that love is easy to see. Their space is an oasis of white linen and dreamy textures. Family photos line a table in the sitting area, among inviting chairs and low end tables. Two paintings by the homeowner’s grandmother hold places of honor on the bedroom walls (art appreciation runs in the family). The master bath, with its tub tucked beneath a port window, is perfect for an end-of-day unwind or a romantic candlelight soak.
Over the bed, the Robert Goodnough painting evokes the colors of the water strewn with autumn leaves. A peek out of the bedroom windows brings with it a soothing sigh. Surrounded by light, art, and loved ones, from here on out it’s smooth sailing.