A man cruises past in a top-down, vintage blue convertible—speedy enough to catch a breeze but not so fast that he can't give a friendly wave. "That's what it's all about right there," says Ed Mitchell, the president and a founding developer of River Dunes , a community just outside the fishing village of Oriental, North Carolina . Positioned where the Neuse River flows into the Pamlico Sound, this is a place where rest and relaxation come easily. It was a no-brainer for the location of our 2022 Idea House —a winsome and unfussy retreat where there's plenty of room for the whole family (and the occasional surprise guest) to stretch out and settle into an unhurried rhythm of leisure.
We engaged a talented team from across the Carolinas to craft our coastal getaway : interior designer Charlotte Harris Lucas of Charlotte Lucas Interior Design , builder Jordan Maroules of SLD Custom Homes , architect William Court of Court Atkins Group , and landscape architect Daniel Keefer of Witmer Jones Keefer, Ltd. "For me, an escape isn't a spot to go and hide," says Charlotte. "It's somewhere you can feel happy and calm but also inspired and rejuvenated. It's important to have a place that evokes those feelings...not just in you but in the guests who might come over too." The home is designed with the main house in front and two additional structures, a carriage house (which has a bonus suite over the garage) and an artist's studio/guesthouse, flanking a courtyard in the back. "This layout creates opportunities not only for family connectivity but also for getting away," says William. With a winning combination of cohesive indoor-outdoor spaces and interiors that subtly nod to the coastal locale, our team dreamed up a waterfront escape that's cleverly current and thoughtfully tied to tradition.
Frame the Scenery
Since the dining room looks out over the flower-filled courtyard, Charlotte designed it to feel like a garden oasis. She upholstered the chairs in Schumacher's Floreana fabric in Berry and then used the same textile for the window treatments . "This space can be dressed up for a beautiful summer supper with lots of friends or kept simple as a bright and airy breakfast room," says the designer. "It goes both ways." William notes that transom windows over the doors stretch the views from floor to ceiling, adding to the alfresco vibes. "We have porches around three sides of the house, which can affect the light quality," he says. "So we used as much glass as possible to flood the interior with sun."
Design for Every Day
The kitchen—with its Monogram Appliances Custom Brass Hood and peachy cabinetry (in Sherwin-Williams' Corallite, SW 9698 )—is filled with cheery shades. Hardworking amenities, like the Monogram Appliances Stainless Steel Warming Drawer , are handsomely incorporated into the design scheme thanks to custom herringbone-patterned panels by Heirloom Carpentry LLC in Raleigh. In the foyer, Charlotte commissioned North Carolinian Madison Mauck of Mauck Made Art to hand paint the throwback stenciled design on the floors as well as the stair treads. Sherwin-Williams' Tread-Plex is a good option for painting floors, because the finish can withstand high traffic, wet feet, and dirty paws.
Shift into Second
While the primary bedroom is often situated on the first floor, a second-story setup was the only way to go in this house, says William. "We wanted this suite to look out on the harbor and to be on its own, away from the action," notes the architect. "Moving it upstairs to capture those views became really important." Charlotte kept the focus on the water, too, orienting the four-poster bed from Reid Classics toward the private porch. At the foot of the bed, a silk-covered bench from Coley Home makes a pretty perch to slip off shoes or take in the scenery. She chose a creative paint treatment for the walls and hung a floral painting by Mary Kamerer Fine Art for an added burst of color. Command Brand Universal Picture Hangers secure it to the wall and provide flexibility to move pieces from room to room.
Savor Little Luxuries
Oomph vanities hand painted by Madison Mauck of Mauck Made Art , the Double Bimini Sconce by Regina Andrew , and a vintage Oushak rug warm up the primary bath. The primary bedroom vanity serves as a sophisticated place to prepare for the day. The Monogram Appliances Double-Drawer Refrigerator (which is hidden by custom panels) keeps eye creams and other skin-care items cool and ready for use.
Pile On the Patterns
Charlotte pulled no punches when designing the second-story guest room , covering the walls in House of Harris ' playful peach Bamboo Garden wallpaper that is destined to attract admirers of all ages. "I stick to a few rules of thumb for mixing patterns," she says. "Whenever I have a floral, I always try to balance it with a striped or geometric pick —something with structure." For instance, she hemmed in the loose botanical design of the wallpaper with a striped rug from Annie Selke and pops of color from the Reid Classics beds, the Universal Furniture dresser, and the Joelle Mini Lamps by Regina Andrew . On the other wall, a pillow-happy sofa finds its complement in a lively Eleanor Scott Davis Fine Art painting.
Invite Summerhouse Nostalgia
Charlotte anchored the downstairs guest room in a wide swath of soothing blue ( Sherwin-Williams' Morning at Sea, SW 9634 ) and then wrapped the rest of the space in Saybrook Check Spa Blue by Thibaut . "It's such a classic pattern," she says. More than an aesthetically pleasing sanctuary, a first-floor suite is also a practical move, notes William. "This element can make the home effective for multigenerational living," he says.
Embrace the Classics…
For the screened outdoor living room, Charlotte leaned into tried-and-true details. "It feels like the epitome of a Southern porch with all the wicker ," she says. The Summer Classics Home Soho Woven Lounge Chairs and Sofas are ideal for this fireside space. "We covered the cushions in a navy-and-white ticking stripe that's appropriately coastal," she adds about the Sunbrella Pinstripe Navy fabric. "It's like something that would be on a sailboat or yacht."
...But Don't Be Afraid To Rethink Traditional Elements
"We decided to put a twist on Southern louvered shutters and used a decorative wooden panel on the front of the screened outdoor dining area," says William. Underfoot, Zuri Premium Decking in Chestnut by Westlake Royal Building Products mimics the interior floors but is a smarter choice for outdoors since it requires far less maintenance.
A Low-Maintenance Yard Solution
Artificial turf covers the courtyard. "It's a nice way to have a little green space that you don't have to keep up ," says landscape installer Rachel Tipton, who owns nearby Harbourside Garden Co . Azaleas from the Southern Living Plant Collection deliver a big dose of classic Carolina charm.
Steal Away Spaces
Six nooks and crannies are designed to offer a little extra breathing room. With a two-story front porch, three bedrooms in the main home, and an additional guesthouse and carriage house, there are plenty of places to find peace and quiet here.
Start Dreaming About Your Own Great Escape
To get a full list of sources from this year's Idea House, click here . If you're in the Oriental, North Carolina area you can check it out in person.
Our 2022 Idea House Sponsors
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Southern Living® Collection
Exclusively at Dillard's Shop the complete Southern Living® Collection for bedding, bath, home decor, and more. Available in-store and online. dillards.com/southernliving
Southern Living® Plant Collection
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Summer Classics Home
At Summer Classics Home, we've been turning our passion for superb quality and breakthrough design into original luxury home furnishings for generations. Family owned and operated, we innovate to bring you beautiful living, outdoors and in. summerclassicshome.com/southernliving
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Zuri® Premium Decking
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