If you’ve ever been to Palmetto Bluff, SC, you can’t deny that there’s something a little bit magical about the place. Maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the ancient trees or the way the wind blows softly, the sun glinting just so.
Interior designer Lisa Furey can’t really say what it was that captured her heart so fully, but, on a birthday trip from their home in Philadelphia to The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, she looked at her husband, Jim Colton, and said, “We’re going to move here.” They hadn’t even made it down the driveway to the inn yet.
She didn’t truly believe it herself, but, several months later, they found themselves the owners of a sprawling lot, deciding to “just build a guest house.” Several months after that came the addition of a carriage house, and now it seems that the couple has finally fully given into the allure of Palmetto Bluff. They just poured the foundation of their main house and will be moving to South Carolina full time in October where they will embark on a brand-new venture: Barefoot Build.
It’s a leap of faith in some ways, but Furey is no stranger to those. After ten years of practicing divorce law (but also with a design degree under her belt) Furey said, “I can’t do this for one more day of my life.” And so, as a newly single mom with young daughters she made the decision to chase the career of her dreams as an interior designer.
Maybe her style comes from her love of the beach, maybe it’s something deeper. “I’m a very casual person,” Furey says, a trait that infuses her light and bright designs. She describes her aesthetic as “no clutter, very carefree,” which works perfectly for the typical two professional family with kids or grandkids and pets for which she designs. “Everything must be beautiful yet super hard wearing,” Furey says.
For Furey, the guest cottage and carriage house have been a study in designing a small space. Building tall ceilings and windows help these gorgeous homes feel larger, while multi-purpose pieces of furniture help keep the space neat and organized. “It’s like a puzzle,” Furey says, and making the puzzle work was one of her favorite parts of the process.
For a designer, the puzzle is always about style, of course, but, for Furey, making the space meaningful was equally as important. Furey and Colton constructed the carriage house, affectionately nicknamed “Duck Crossing,” for their three daughters, whom Furey has always called her “little ducks.”
Furey had the weathervane atop the house custom made in Boston with three copper ducks. “That’s my favorite thing of all,” she says.
As for me, I couldn’t pick a favorite thing about the beginnings of this chic yet completely comfortable compound. Furey—who I knew from her work but not in person—was one of the first people to offer to host one of the “homes tours” for the launch of my new novel Slightly South of Simple (Simon & Schuster, April 25, 2017) and I could scarcely believe that I would get to see, in real life, these homes that I had admired for so long, that had graced my Pinterest page and my blog, Design Chic.
Furey procured the blue and white vessel sink from overstock.com.
Furey’s home, like its setting, is gracious and welcoming, calming yet fun, the perfect place to wake up in the morning overlooking the sun glinting on the water, to savor the stillness that makes Palmetto Bluff so special.
And it is wonderful to drive home, into the setting sun, away from South Carolina, knowing that I will always carry a little piece of that Palmetto Bluff magic in my heart.
Kristy Woodson Harvey’s third novel, Slightly South of Simple, the first book in the Peachtree Bluff series, combines her two loves: writing and interior design. She writes the blog Design Chic, the inaugural member of the Design Blogger Hall of Fame, with her mom, Beth Woodson. Harvey lives in North Carolina with her husband and five-year-old son. Slightly South of Simple (Simon & Schuster, 4.25.17) is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Indiebound, and wherever books are sold.