Permanent Vacation

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Life in the Lowcountry is about slowing down to savor simple joys. Ken and Karen May took that to heart with their custom build in The Landings.

The Mays initially bought a vacation home in The Landings in 2012, after researching vacation homes in North Carolina, South Carolina and other parts of Georgia. As dedicated golfers, the Mays were looking for a place to play year-round. They were impressed by the community’s six golf courses, as well as two harbors and a family-friendly, neighborhood feel, all situated alongside Skidaway Island’s natural beauty. 

Family obligations and Ken’s busy career as a cardiologist left them with only a few weeks each year to stay at their vacation home. But even when they found time to enjoy it, they wished for a space that was more their own, with an open layout, and, if possible, a great view.

Karen’s close-knit family lives within a 50-mile radius of the Mays’ main property in Pennsylvania. She never thought she would leave, but keeps an “Our Happy Place” plaquette at their Savannah retreat. The sign was a harbinger: The Mays decided to relocate to The Landings more permanently and build a custom home perfectly tailored to their needs and tastes.

As Ken puts it, “it’s cold in Pennsylvania, and, after working several years, we began planning what we’d do in retirement.”

To bring their vision to life, the couple partnered with builder Matthew Johns, who has “a lot of good instincts,” Ken says. “He can tell you what works practically, and what doesn’t.”

Johns toured The Landings with the Mays, searching for the optimal spot to build their dream home. He showed them what he called a “sleeper lot,” Ken recalls, which was next to the golf course; it’s where the home now stands today. 

“Golf brought us here, so it made sense to have a lot on the golf course,” Karen says. “The fact that it overlooks a lagoon was the icing on the cake.”

Her love of cooking and entertaining also influenced the home’s design. With four children and four grandchildren
who visit often, Karen opted for a large, open kitchen that extends into the family room and features a breakfast nook.

“Everyone can be in one place when you’re entertaining,”
she says.

Ultimately, however, the Mays’ main focus was creating a place to let their worries fade away.

“It was important for both of us to have a relaxed, casual feel the minute you walked in the door,” Karen says. She reached out to interior designer Anne Pappas to design a space that balanced coastal and traditional elements.

Pappas delivered with a serene, tonal palette paired with crisp, grounding whites. Hints of shiplap throughout the home round out the design, evoking the laid-back, Lowcountry-coastal lifestyle.

“I relied on Anne to make my vision her vision,” Karen says. 

Ken finds his getaway in what was once his office but now functions as a library or study. His love for the outdoors often takes Ken out to the enclosed, ground-level porch. Here, he can gaze down the golf course or observe birds and other wildlife.

“I’m still a little starstruck,” Ken says. “I just wander around the house and look at everything, even though we’ve been here for about two years.”

For Karen, there is no place in the home quite as relaxing as her oversized, cushioned porch swing upstairs.

“I love nothing more than to go up there and take my coffee or take a cocktail, depending on the time of day, and just swing. I’m like a child,” she says. “I love to just go up there, and the cares of the day melt away.”

Currently, the Mays still split their time between Pennsylvania and Savannah but are looking to retire to The Landings full-time within the coming year.

“When we get here, it’s well appreciated,” Karen says. “Though we’re not yet here all the time, it truly feels like home.” 


Owners: Karen and Ken May

Year built: 2018

Square footage: 4,000

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: 4 bedrooms
and 4.5 bathrooms

Interior designer: Anne Pappas Interiors

Contractor/builder: Matthew Johns Construction

Tile/flooring: Daltile; Cowart Floor Surfacing; James Sutton Tile & Marble

Windows/doors: Guerry Lumber

Kitchen design: Darrell Wasdin, Wasdin Cabinets & Millwork

Kitchen countertops: Granite Depot

Lighting design: Circa Lighting

Landscape design: Davis Landscapes

Hardscape design: Lee Mitchell, Backyard Living

Electrician: Skidaway Electric

Audio/visual: Charlie Cunningham

Carpenter: Matthew Johns Construction 

Plumber: Vernon Hendrix Plumbing 

Landscaper: Dale Holloway, Maloney’s Landscape Management 

HVAC: Byrd Heating & Air Conditioning 

Furniture: Redford House, Vanguard, Anne Pappas Interiors

Appliances: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery 

Roofing: JCB Roofing