Text and Styling: Charlotte Safavi
Photography: Jessie Preza
It’s easy to fall for the charm of Amelia Island, Florida. Its ocean breezes, undulating marshes, and live oaks laden with Spanish Moss are undeniably beautiful. In 2015, an Atlanta-based couple with two grown kids decided to claim a piece of that beauty when they purchased a duplex overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. “I did a walk-through with the homeowners before they even put in an offer,” says interior designer Tiffany Hinton of LOLA Interiors. “We ended up working with them throughout the entire process, from meetings with the architect and interviewing contractors to assisting in all the material and furnishing selections down to the toothbrushes.”
Before toothbrushes, however, came the lengthy three-year process of combining the duplex’s former units—the left side now includes a den, office, and kitchenette, while the right side includes a kitchen, living room, dining room, and master suite—and outfitting the home to meet the homeowners’ needs. The team also included local architect John H. Dodd of John Dodd Architect Inc. and builder Brent Rewa of Call Construction. “The homeowner wanted to keep to the original Mediterranean style of the property, but she also loves a bit of elegance and glamour, so we kept this in mind when planning,” says Hinton. “Of course, we also wanted to take full advantage of the beautiful waterfront site and increase the square footage and year-round usage of the exterior living spaces.”
These reimagined outdoor spaces include a kitchen, which also has a pizza oven, and living/dining areas all in a veranda facing the Intracoastal Waterway. The ceiling is vaulted in tin, and there are retractable screens to protect the space from environmental factors. There is also a refinished interior courtyard with a swimming pool, an outdoor shower, and a split-level cabana featuring a kitchenette, bathroom, and game area.
“Our interior renovation was initially focused on the duplex’s larger unit and what became the home’s more formal living areas,” says Hinton. “We went with a neutral palette with hints of sea glass blues and greens while layering in pattern, texture, and metallics for sophistication. We were also true to the architecture’s Mediterranean vibe, with dark French oak floors and ceiling beams set against soft white walls.” The new kitchen has white oak cabinets and an integrated custom-designed hood, all finished in a glaze revealing the woodgrain. By contrast, the island’s curved wood base is stained dark, as is the rolling ladder for reaching upper cabinetry.
Adjacent to the kitchen and breakfast area, the formal living room features upholstered tufted bench nooks on either side of the fireplace. This two-story room opens up to the library on the upper level, which is defined by a wall of built-in bookshelves and a custom-designed wrought-iron railing. “The homeowner happens to love horses and wanted to incorporate a photograph of a horse somewhere in the design,” says Hinton. “When sourcing art, we found a New York-based photographer who had taken pictures of the famous wild horses on Cumberland Island, and we commissioned a piece,” she says.
Forefront in the homeowners’ minds was the home’s ability to absorb their growing family. For example, the master suite upstairs is an oasis of calm, a place to retreat when the house is full. There are also five guest bedrooms, including a fun bunkroom designed with future grandchildren in mind. “We worked with a local cabinetmaker to install four twin beds with a built-in desk/homework area in the bunkroom, and there is also a guest suite for mom and dad that features a whimsical queen-sized hanging bed and a kitchenette,” Hinton says.
Overall, the home functions perfectly for family and friend gatherings with plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lots of comfortable seating for dining or lounging. “Second to functionality, the homeowner prioritized the aesthetic of each space. She loved the waterfront location, and we maximized this in the design, both architecturally and from an interior’s point of view,” says Hinton. “She was in happy tears at the end result.”