A Modern Take on Timeless Classicism

Posted On January 4, 2022

An owner’s intertwining passions are the centerpiece of this exciting, stylish custom build

By Lori Wilson

Photos by G. FRANK HART and Mark Steelman

Steps away from the Intracoastal Waterway, in between the saltwater of Bradley Creek and Motts Channel, sits a home with many surprises. Any local passersby would likely admire its lovely Southern-style exterior with white brick and large colonial columns. Yet, only those lucky enough to take a proper tour (or perhaps enjoy one of the owner’s many football parties) understand the true decorative and architectural depth of its sophisticated interior. With one peek into the front-facing floor-to-ceiling windows, visitors soon regard Craig Heyward’s style as far from one-dimensional.

Heyward, whose combined interests and influences are—in the best way—sometimes challenging to concretely define, spent four years designing, building, and finishing his home after stripping the lot and starting from scratch. Gifted at sourcing both talent and art, Heyward called upon professionals and friends to carry out his vision. Down-the-street neighbor and accomplished builder David James crafted the classic Palladian architectural designs of noted architect David Lisle, who then connected Heyward to interior designer Debby Gomulka.

"It’s cheesy to say, but Debby really made the house a home,” Heyward says.

Gomulka stepped in as the anchor of the Heyward home relay. After interior architectural finishes were completed by designer Kent Loftus, Gomulka stepped in for the final touches.  

“We took the canvas that was there, and we created Craig’s vision,” Gomulka explains.

While Heyward found many decorative pieces and furnishings on his own, Gomulka helped him cross the finish line to integrate the many themes of his home.

“The whole point of being here [in this house] is that you feel like you’re not in Wilmington,” Heyward says.

With each detail, he takes us to the places he loves most.

Mediterranean Landscape and Art

Today, Heyward lives just catty corner to the home where he spent his teenage years. But between now and then, he’s travelled far beyond Edgewater Lane. We see evidence of his time spent in Europe most notably through the house’s landscaping and outdoor features. A large fountain, reminiscent of Italian courtyards, is the first to greet guests in the driveway of Heyward’s home. The soothing Mediterranean scenery continues to the backyard, where tall Venetian cypress trees pose between the pool and concrete fence speckled with shells in the tabby style.

And, of course, no proper Italian-inspired landscape is without its olive trees. We see a salute to this special Mediterranean flora in the details of a custom-designed copper vessel featured in one of the kitchen’s glass display cabinets. Local Wilmington sculpture artist Dumay Gorham, III, authored the piece with olive leaves, as well as the neighboring copper gingko tree.

The influence of the European landscape carries on throughout the combined living-dining-kitchen area. Here, Heyward adapted the design of the ceiling, perhaps the most staggering architectural feature, from 17th-century mansard roofing, a style typical in both England and Italy during that era. Heyward intended for this space, dubbed the great room, to double as an art gallery for his carefully curated collection, as made prominent by the recessed lighting in the kitchen cabinet shelves and track lighting that draw focus to the wall of two-dimensional pieces.  

When asked to make note of his favorite art, Heyward points first to the horizontal landscape, “Red Poppies and Flowers in Chiana Valley,” by Italian oil painter Paolo Bigazzi, which Heyward purchased during a stay in Cortona, Italy.

Designer Gomulka honored the Italian depictions with fabrics that complement the space. The custom ripplefold drapery designs in neutral linen, she explains, carry the vision of Tuscany and add a restrained yet flattering feature to the great room. For Heyward’s bedroom on the main floor, Gomulka designed his headboard with an ostrich hide sourced from Italy through a N.C. manufacturer in High Point.

Charleston History with a Kick of News Orleans Spice

The Heyward roots in the South date back to the late 1600s, when the notable Daniel Heyward immigrated from Derbyshire, England, to help found Charles Town, or what we now know as Charleston, SC. In the upstairs hallway, near the home’s other three bedrooms, hangs a framed genealogy chart of the Heyward family.  One of the Heyward’s ancestors, Thomas Heyward, Jr., is a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The family history resonates throughout Heyward’s home, with tributes of the Old World design and styles that Charleston still celebrates. Also upstairs, Gomulka chose stylized iron bed frames that reflect the Charleston themes. Visible from the backyard and overlooking the pool, two private bedroom balconies feature wrought iron balustrades, made custom by Tom Meyers of Eastern Metal Works, that reference Charleston, as well as its Old-World-meets-New-World neighbor, New Orleans, another favorite locale of Heyward.

Just underneath each balcony hangs a bronze lion’s head water fixture designed by Stan Mullins of Athens, GA (where Heyward attended college). To accompany the fountains, Gomulka envisioned stone water troughs sourced from a prominent Charleston antique dealer, decorated with carved acanthus leaves, an important element, she says, of classical styles.

Back inside, more carved bronze details inspired finishing touches that speak to Heyward’s family history. Perhaps the most exceptional feature of the great room, a bronze and copper inlay dining table (or, referred to by Heyward as the “wine table”) was fashioned from a circa-1880 table passed down from Heyward’s relatives. Gomulka and Heyward collaborated again with Dumay Gorham to create the long, narrow copper patina tabletop that serves as a focal point for the room.

The copper and bronze tones also act as a vehicle for cohesion among Heyward’s multi-dimensional design, as seen in the painted copper abstract art (“A Touch of Sass” by Gale Smith) and copper sea creatures (by Hanes Hoffman of Bluewater Copper Works), all made by local artists.

Some Colorado Vibes

Gomulka suggested a light fixture to complement the great room wine table. This copper feature is the home’s first nod to Heyward’s affection for ski trips in Colorado. Crafted via a rare sculpture method that integrates copper and textured bronze, the branch-like chandelier made by Joe Cooper of Heirloom Companies hangs proudly.

Just around the corner, Heyward’s combination study and wine cellar practically howls cozy Colorado comfort with warm wood walls that surround the room. Gomulka’s contribution, upholstered swivel chairs, add elegance to this multipurpose office for evenings of wine sampling next to the cellar, whose door blends in with the wall’s pecky cypress panels.

For more Colorado vibes, the walls of the downstairs half bath incorporate beetle kill pine wood harvested from Steamboat Springs, which features a distinctive blue fungus that gives the grain that special, rustic look and color.

The Boy’s Club

More beetle kill pine can be found in Heyward’s sports bar mecca christened the “Boy’s Club.” The bold, handsome references to Colorado forge on via the barn doors and an outdoor mantle slab. In a way, this room also merges all the Heyward home themes, with references to family heritage and more New Orleans-style ironwork details. But here, unlike any other spot in the house, we get an important piece of Heyward: football.

With a total of eight TVs for viewing pleasure, the detached Boy’s Club building delivers the ultimate sports hub, but with some Heyward flare. If you’ve visited the Angus Barn’s Wild Turkey Lounge once or twice, you’ll likely spot a familiar feature. Gomulka and Heyward call them his “Wild Turkey Lounge Barstools.” Gomulka had these chairs custom made with alligator hide backs and more acanthus leaves carved into the seat’s base.

And speaking of foliage, the large bar, essential to any sportsman’s haven, is one of Wilson, NC’s Artisan Leaf creations, made by Sebastian Correa from real cigar leaves from the Dominican Republic. This unique look serves as a conversation starter over drinks and prompts stories about Heyward’s father, who worked in the tobacco industry for all of his career after serving in World War II and graduating from N.C. State.

But, unlike his dad, Heyward traded the Wolfpack for the Bulldogs. After graduating from New Hanover High School, Heyward attended, as mentioned before, the University of Georgia. Back in the great room stands a statue of longtime Georgia football coach Vince Dooley, one of six casts made by Heyward’s fraternity brother Stan Mullins (also the creator of the poolside lions’ head fountains).

Heyward and friends have spent many afternoons enjoying the games, both on TV and off (note the pool table and shuffleboard table). Truly, the Heyward home and its owner have been witness to celebrations of all kinds, from an elegant family wedding reception to neighborhood parties over his one-of-a-kind oyster cooker. It’s a multi-dimensional space for a multi-dimensional homeowner.


Interior Design: Debby Gomulka Designs

Architect: Lisle Architecture & Design

Builder: David James & Company

Landscaping: Jackson Landscaping, Inc.

Cabinetry: VanDamme Customs

Tabby outside walls: Adam Sedney