Painterly Punch

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An artist-turned-designer creates a happy home on Whitemarsh Island

It seems the best things in life come when you aren’t looking for them.

In one such stroke of serendipity, while munching on burgers at the Savannah Yacht Club, a Whitemarsh Island couple heard a neighbor mention an available lot on Commodore Drive.

Eager to learn more, they hopped on their bikes, inspected the site by moonlight and, instantly enchanted by the view, pedaled furiously back, offering to take the property on the spot.

Once the lot was theirs, the family of four enlisted the experts at Alair Homes Savannah to build their four-bedroom, five-bathroom waterfront house with the help of Catherine Lovett: professional painter, photographer and, for this home, interior designer.

The child of serial movers — her parents ambitiously renovated houses all over the East Coast and even one in far-flung New Zealand — Lovett comes by her knack for design honestly.

For the Commodore Drive property, so seamless was Lovett’s process and so successful the result, Alair Homes asked her to come on staff.

No wonder: the completed design exudes a captivating joie de vivre from the moment guests enter the front door. “When you walk in, there has to be a pop,” she says. “Something that makes you go ‘wow.’”

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Photography by Brent Ingersoll
Chinoiserie wallpaper with turquoise trim

That very first “wow” — panels of Schumacher’s Brighton Pavilion wallpaper adorning the walls of a study just off the foyer — inspired the home’s larger design.

The chinoiserie paper, paired with turquoise trim, draws guests in while directing their eyes toward the dry bar, lacquered in an acidic chartreuse.

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The yellow-green dry bar complements the blue shades from the study

A mirror tile backsplash (Lovett hand-antiqued the tiles herself ) and a boar’s head laden with string lights above a sleek, stainless-steel counter ensure the small room packs a resonant punch.

Such saturated hues make perfect sense to the painter-turned- designer, who sees them in the island marshes she puts on canvas. “I love the color that nature provides,” Lovett says of her beloved blues and greens, “and [those rooms] were a fun way to play the two colors off of each other.”

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Gucci wallpaper adds whimsy to the powder room

Across from the study in the powder room, Lovett’s signature whimsy shines through again. Designed to shine like “a little jewel box,” a gang of Gucci tigers silently growl at guests as they gaze into the antique, gilt mirror.

These of-the-moment colors and patterns are grounded by the off-white foyer and central living area.

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An off-white room allows the scenery to take center stage

But not everything is bright and busy: the back room, with its many uses and expansive wall of windows, allows the “eyes to rest,” as Lovett says.

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Organic colors and textures highlight the marsh outside

Here, instead of punchy papers or glossy paints, she lets the seasonal hues of the marsh do the talking. “I wanted the interior elements here to be more organic.”

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Neutral, earthy tones add serenity to the master bedroom

Stained wooden cabinets and high-end appliances mingle under exposed wooden beams to create a luxurious chef ’s kitchen open to the dining and living areas.

Tufted dining chairs from Restoration Hardware, a selection of antiques from Scott Antique Market, and a pair of Kelly Wearstler Linden lamps from Circa Lighting mingle to create an inviting, unfussy living space with uninterrupted views of the marsh.

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Fish scale tiles are a nod to the surrounding Lowcountry

Accenting the walls are antique mirrors — a nod to the adjacent dry bar — and even a few paintings by Lovett herself.

Her landscapes, notable for their brilliant colors and bold strokes, reflect her interior design philosophy: clean, modern lines paired with fresh pieces that will stand the test of time. “Everything has to have relation and balance,” she notes.

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The private porch off the master bedroom

Just beyond this hardworking space is a massive screened porch that has quickly become the owners’ favorite spot to relax (the master suite even has its own private porch connected to the central, outdoor living space).

Back inside, the home’s various bedrooms feature quiet palettes that emphasize the views beyond. Fun details, like fish scale tiles in the master shower, are some of Lovett’s cheeky nods to the Lowcountry setting.

Every room carefully sized and considered, the homeowners report that they are contented on the waterfront. Lovett, whose bold designs made it all possible, sums it up succinctly: “It’s a happy home.”


Year built: 2019

Year purchased: 2017 (lot)

Square footage: 4,000

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms:

4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms

Time to complete: 3 months planning, 11 months construction

Architects/planners: Alair Homes Savannah

Interior designer: Catherine Lovett

Contractor/builder: Alair Homes Savannah

Tile/flooring: Floor & Decor, Stone Center Online, Garden State Tile

Windows/doors: Coastal Sash & Door, Guerry Lumber, Coastal Millworks

Kitchen design: Wilmington Woodworking, Walsh Custom Surfaces

Bath design: Counterparts, Sandpiper Supply

Lighting design: Circa Lighting, Scott Antique Markets

Floors: Cowart Floor Surfacing, Culver Rug Co.

Landscape design: Catherine Lovett

Hardscape design: Shane Elmore, SME Enterprises

Electrician: RSW Electrical Contracting

Audio/visual: TV Guys Home Theatre Design

Carpenter: JD Painting

Plumber: Construction Pros

Landscaper: Hester & Zipperer

HVAC: Burrough’s Heat and Air Furniture/lighting: Lee Industries, Fibreworks, Gabby, Restoration Hardware, Georgia Furniture, Scott Antique Markets

Appliances: Billy Wood Appliances

Art: Catherine Lovett, Betsy Cain, William Weyman Metal dry bar tops:

Forsyth Metal Works

Tabby and stucco: C&C Enterprises