Room to Grow

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How a sweet surprise gave one family their dream home 

Photography by Richard Leo Johnson // Styling by JKN DESIGN SERVICES

VAN TYSON’S CHILDHOOD days were spent riding around The Landings looking, with intense curiosity, for fresh clearings in the woods and mounds of red clay piling up high above the ground, the tell-tale signs of new construction. Now, as the owner of Tyson Custom Homes, Van maintains the same fascination with the process, one he explores each day on his job sites. 

In 2018, with three children in tow, Van and his wife, Lisa, decided to put down roots in the neighborhood that both of their families call home, with Van spearheading the home’s design and construction. After months of meticulously planning every square foot, the Tysons got approval from The Landings to begin building their dream home — but just after the last detail was finalized, Lisa called Van with a surprise. 

“Honey, are you sitting down?” she asked Van. “Because I am pregnant.” The shock and excitement were evident in her voice, Van recalls. And with another baby on the way, he went back to the drawing board, designing a new home for their soon-to-be family of six. The new design, a Lowcountry home featuring touches inspired by Van’s Southern design icons —Charleston-based architect Bill Huey and Sam Liberti of Low Tide Design in Bluffton, S.C. — exudes an elegant charm with tabby features and vaulted ceilings, walls swathed in nickel gap and ceilings of pecky cypress. 

The kitchen features a double-width refrigerator — ideal for fueling the busy family of six.

From the moment guests enter the front door, the architectural details are apparent. A lighted barrel vault of richly stained pecky cypress overhead draws the eye upward, flowing seamlessly into the living room’s coffered ceiling, outfitted with the same wood. 

In the gleaming white kitchen, designed with a little help from Allison Willis of Linen and Line Design, the island’s curved banquette has become the family’s favorite spot to enjoy a meal together. The accompanying heart pine table is also a testament to the ingenuity of Van’s carpenter. 

The main bedroom’s vaulted, beamed ceiling adds a palatial feel to an otherwise down-to-earth space.

“We built it out of four pine chunks and put a heavy-duty coating on it inspired by the tables at Spanky’s in Savannah,” says Van, laughing. “Wear and tear and children; those tables have been there forever and can take a beating.” With two highchairs pulled up, the couple and their four children (Will, 7; Gray, 4; Waylon, 2; and James, 1) fit snugly around the table each evening.

Opposite the living area, the primary suite offers the couple a grand retreat, complete with gorgeous beams, nickel gap walls and ceilings and an expansive, vaulted ceiling. The ceiling is so high that once, a child’s lone
balloon drifted up to the center and, out of the couple’s reach, was stuck for a month until it deflated enough for them to catch. “Balloons are now for the living room only,” Lisa insists with a smile.

The ensuite bathroom features a soaking tub, generous walk-in shower, and counters outfitted with Bardiglio marble, its pattern swirling gracefully across the long counters. “We wanted everything to be really simple—nothing too complicated too clean and nothing too bougie,” says Van, laughing.

Bardiglio marble countertops create contrast in the master bathroom’s all-white palette.

For their children’s bedrooms, Van added elements that would be fun and flexible as they grow up. For their daughter, Gray, a pink-filled room was de rigueur, complete with delicate pink wallpaper and a decorative, beaded chandelier. Her older brother, Will, received a custom bunkbed with coastal-inspired railings designed by dad to facilitate ample room for sleepovers.  And though each child’s bedroom is perfectly tailored to their needs, “all they want to do is play outside.” Van says. After dinner, you can find Van and Lisa snuggling baby James on their custom porch swing as the older three children tear across the yard, giggling until the mad dash for bedtime begins.

On Saturday nights, the avid Georgia football fans invite their parents and cousins over to watch the Bulldogs on the back porch as the sun dips down behind the pond. “We are a tightknit crew.” Van says of their extended family.

From his perch on the back porch, where the family often hosts their parents and cousins, Van can see his favorite feature of the backyard: a tiny oak sapling standing just six inches high, planted when the family moved in. Van imagines the children sitting under the mighty oak 20 years from now — its roots, and that of the family — growing deeper and stronger on Skidaway Island. 

LEFT: Patterned pink wallpaper feels sophisticated, not cloying. The walls
will grow with the Tyson’s daughter, Gray, for years to come.
TOP RIGHT: The outdoor fireplace features oyster shell stucco.
BOTTOM RIGHT: Van and Lisa Tyson with children, from left, Will, James, Waylon and Gray.


Owners: Van and Lisa Tyson
Year built: 2020
Square footage: 4,025 heated
Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
Time to complete renovation/remodel: 9 months
Architects/planners: Sam Liberti, Low Tide Designs
Interior designer: Allison Willis, Linen + Line Designs
Contractor/builder: Van Tyson, Tyson Custom Homes 
Tile/flooring: Sunrise Restoration tile;
Specialty Flooring hardwood
Windows/doors: Savannah Millworks doors; Gaster Lumber windows

Drywall/paint: Travis Christopher, Creative
Building Solutions
Kitchen design: Linen + Line Designs
Bath design: Linen + Line Designs
Lighting design: Low Country Lighting, Circa Lighting
Landscape design: Neal Landscape Management 
Electrician: J. Ryle Electric
Audio/visual: The Mouse Pad
Carpenter: Tim Klink, Dave Taft
Plumber: Jenkins Plumbing
HVAC: Creative Building Solutions
Furniture: Whelan’s Furniture
Appliances: Livingood’s Appliances & Bedding

All details supplied by homeowner