Designer Meredith McBrearty created a cheery, colorful beach retreat for her childhood friends Tiffany and Philip Rivers to gather with extended family.
Text: Lydia Sommerville
Photography: Colleen Duffley
When Tiffany Rivers was a teenager growing up in Decatur, Alabama, she was madly in love with the high school quarterback. For that reason, she chose to live in a friend’s home for the final years of high school rather than move away with her family to West Virginia. What might have seemed an impulsive adolescent act of defiance proved sensible—the couple eventually married. Tiffany and husband
Philip Rivers, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, now live in San Diego with their eight children. But the couple’s Southern roots run deep, and despite living close to the coast in California, Tiffany and Philip longed for the white sands of Blue Mountain Beach along Florida’s Panhandle.
“They wanted a place where they could gather with both their families,” says designer Meredith McBrearty, the childhood friend Tiffany lived with during high school. “They first called on me to do their San Diego house when they moved there, and then they asked me to create a beach house to host gatherings with their Alabama family.”
When the Rivers found a house in the middle of construction in Blue Mountain Beach, McBrearty stepped in to help choose finishes and furnishings for the traditional, wood-frame structure.
“We installed bunkbeds, knotty pine wood, and shiplap siding on almost every interior wall to give the home a coastal vibe,” says the designer. And, of course, the furnishings needed to be cheerful but indestructible to withstand the steady flow of guests.
“Most of the furniture is covered in outdoor fabrics, although the drapery fabrics [by Quadrille, Galbraith & Paul, and Katie Ridder] are a little more upscale,” McBrearty says.
For the main living room, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, the designer gathered an array of wood-frame chairs, club chairs, and rockers to cater to individual tastes in seating.
A slipcovered sofa makes cleanup easy in case of food spills. Blackout curtains help darken the room for optimal movie nights and offer privacy for the NFL star to escape from the spotlight. “People like to stop and wave when they catch sight of him,” says McBrearty.
With eight children, ranging in age from an infant to a 14-year-old, as well as extended family to accommodate, the couple needed maximum sleeping quarters. A second master bedroom welcomes grandparents, while bunk rooms host cousins and friends.
Besides her desire for plenty of space, Tiffany had one other important request. “She wanted the house to be colorful, not just blue and white,” says McBrearty. Injections of pink, chartreuse, and vivid turquoise elevate the rooms above the usual beach house tropes. “Tiffany made it clear that they bought this house to bring families together in a fun, lively environment,” says McBrearty. “As their designer, nothing makes me happier than a commission like that.”