Generous Living

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A home at The Ford takes inspiration from downtown Savannah

Beneath live oaks and flowering magnolias, a newly constructed townhome appears to have been plucked, ever so gently, from Savannah’s Historic District and planted at McAllister Point in The Ford. With sweeping views of the Ogeechee River and rice fields sprawling beyond, the property, completed in 2018, is a tranquil retreat for homeowners Becky and Marty Kanipe.

Inspired by Savannah row houses, the home features 2,600 square feet of exterior porches and formal garden.
Photography by Richard Leo Johnson

Drawn to The Ford for its equine and fishing amenities and heavy dose of Southern-style, the Kanipes, originally from Richmond, Virginia, purchased the homesite in 2003. Years later, ready to embrace Lowcountry living, the Kanipes called upon architect Erik Puljung and interior designer Amy Porch, both of Hansen Architects, to help them dream up their Southern manse.

The barrel-vaulted hallway

Thanks to Puljung’s reverence for detail, the house shares a rich dialogue with the formal garden. “It was a pivotal moment in our design [process] when Erik created the porte-cochère under the garden porches,” Becky says.

With its groin-vaulted ceilings, a detail inspired by the couple’s travels to Florence, the covered drive adds copious amounts of style to the ground level while maximizing the garden’s footprint.

Breezy porch living space

This design also fulfilled a request for ample outdoor living space suitable for entertaining. “Marty really wanted a rooftop terrace,” says Puljung, who incorporated the terrace along with two porches above the porte-co-chère, and two more on the back of the house. (In all, the home includes a whopping 2,600 square feet of porch space).

Warm, dark wood creates a cozy atmosphere in the study

Designed in the traditional Savannah side-porch style, the home faces the neighborhood’s square, another reference to the Hostess City, some 30
miles northeast.

But with such a heavy emphasis on entertaining and the outdoors, the interior layout was designed as a thoughtful departure from the traditional, Savannah townhome. “Most houses of this style give you the best room first, just inside the front door,” Puljung says. But unlike many Savannah row houses, he notes, “the primary view is on the back of the house.”

Beachy, coastal tones accent a neutral palette.

Specifically, Pujlung and Porch used millwork details to subtly invite visitors toward the back of the home. The foyer gives way to a stately, barrel-vaulted hallway, complete with a wet bar — a Southern- approved way to welcome guests — that ends in the great room, with its wall-to-wall views of the surrounding landscape.

In the great room and kitchen, Porch translated the Kanipes’ exuberant style (Becky is a self-proclaimed “color person”) to fit their new context and accommodate groups of all sizes.

Here, brilliantly patterned drapes mingle with punchy, coral pillows and plush, green armchairs situated upon an antique rug. “We didn’t want the traditional furnishings to feel too formal, like you couldn’t relax,” Porch says, “so we used a lot of linen.”

The effect is unfussy, from a natural-woven rug to an updated antique Chippendale dining set, where Porch stripped the chairs down to the original finish and added leopard-print fabric.

To discreetly hide the couple’s television, Porch worked with Atlanta-based furniture company Holland MacRae to design a pair of custom wood and cane armoires as elegant as they are useful.

Although the Kanipes love to host, the Hansen team reserved the entire second floor for a sumptuous master suite — a retreat within a retreat.

The space features a private porch, his-and-hers dressing rooms and separate bathrooms outfitted with a marble-topped bathtub and vanities.

On the top floor, two bedrooms, a playfully decorated bunkroom, and a wet bar, however, were designed with guests firmly in mind. Throughout, a color palette of blues and greens mimics the marsh just outside. Simple valances (no floor-grazing drapery here) let the views speak for themselves.

Despite the home’s substantial square footage, a unified design and emphasis on entertaining means there are “no throw-away spaces,” Porch says. Indeed, Marty notes friends and family “beg to come back” after visiting their house. Becky concurs, laughing: “We’re afraid that our guests might come and not leave.”