Text by Linda Wright/Photography by John O’Hagan
When Mary Sullivan was designing this family beach retreat her husband, Richard, took note of her hard work and surprised her with a sign, naming their cottage by the beach, “Mary’s Place.”
Mary grew up several hours from the water and always wanted a place at the beach where her family could spend time together. “I have a sister and friend living in the same area, so it was easy for me to decide where to build.” She worked on plans for about a year, and then it took almost another year to build. But it wasn’t until after Hurricane Katrina that the couple was able to move in and enjoy summertime at the beach.
Like most of us, she had her own ideas about decorating but wanted the reassurance of an expert, so she went to friend and designer Merrill Miller. Mary decided on neutral walls and wooden floors on the first floor, and when she found two comfortable chairs upholstered in a favorite green color, she asked Merrill to help select other colorful accents. The seahorse painting that hangs between the chairs is a perfect nod to the gulf, and the colorful abstract painting above the fireplace combines the golds and greens found in other upholstery in the room, plus it adds a punch of coral.
The open floor plan makes entertaining easy at this beach house. The large L-shaped room incorporates the kitchen, dining area, and family room. When the weather is inviting, you can step right outside to a screened porch. Cushioned wicker chairs and a couch repeat the color of the interior. A large round glass table is the perfect place to serve a light meal or cocktails in the evening. When relaxing and looking at the beach area below, you can see the colorful chairs and the boat dock where you’ll often find Belle, a chocolate lab, enjoying her beach time along with the rest of the family.
With one guest bedroom downstairs and three bedrooms up, the beach house comfortably accommodates kids and grandkids during the summer and even into the fall. But as more grandchildren join the family, she says, “I just might need to add on to Mary’s Place. And if I can convince my husband, we might soon have Mary’s Second Place.”