Designer Nancy Mullineaux uses aspects of the ocean to give a Wrightsville Beach home its unique coastal charm
By JUDY ROYAL
Photos by BROWNIE HARRIS
Lots of kids playing on the beach envision what it would be like to live in a sandcastle. Years ago a couple planning a new, oceanfront vacation home in Wrightsville Beach wanted to get a little closer to that vision. They enlisted the help of Wilmington interior designer Nancy Mullineaux of Dezign Inspirations/Home Design Resource to help them make it a reality.
“This is the owner’s private sandcastle, so the designs are reflective of the sea, sand and shells,” Mullineaux said recently of the 7,900-square-foot treasure she completed four years ago. “My whole goal for the interior design was to select and create elements that combined a natural organic feeling and the movement of the waves of the ocean.”
As a big fan of the ocean, this type of design is a personal passion for her. Her clients, who’d never met Mullineaux before, had seen her work at a friend's home in Landfall and knew their ideas would be in sync with the help of her creative vision and unique resources.
“We found that Nancy’s designs were particularly striking with her sense and use of colors, textures and materials. She has an uncanny ability to be innovative and cutting-edge when appropriate,” said the homeowner. “From the onset, her professional yet personal demeanor allowed our relationship to develop into something much more than a client based relationship: we truly were a team in this project.”
“Nancy always took the time and placed a lot of emphasis on listening to our wants and needs. Thankfully her creative assistance helped me to truly visualize her artistic design concepts! This always meant a great deal to me,” said the owner.
Mullineaux said it’s all part of the job. “I try to specialize each client’s project by emphasizing the importance of having a personal relationship with them. Each project is approached individually, as each client is unique. I have to play the role of a psychologist to truly figure out what my clients’ wants and needs are—it’s my job to try and get inside their heads. I always strive to create inspirational designs that reflect my clients true personality and lifestyle. Each project brings a new, exciting and challenging adventure!”
For the sandcastle-style home in Wrightsville Beach, Mullineaux worked with the clients from 2005 to 2012. They went together to the biannual High Point Furniture Market several times, where Mullineaux worked for several years, seeking ideas while viewing upcoming trends.
This particular home originated with the work of architect Michael Kersting and builder Nick Garrett. It was the last project for Garrett before his death last year. Coastal Cabinets, under project manager Mike Perry, supplied the custom cabinetry. Electronics 2 You supplied the audio/electronic systems, lutron systems/ shades & hurricane shutters.
In a synopsis about the home, Kersting wrote: “One of the overriding exterior design ideas was for the house to become an abstraction of a structure that may have emerged from the blowing sands on the beach. The sturdy construction, complete with motorized hurricane shutters and concrete tiles on the roof, was meant to be a safeguard against hurricanes and can withstand winds of 175 mph.”
The color Seafoam became an overriding theme, the homeowner added: “This soothing color steered a lot of the designing for the interior décor.”
Upon entering the front door, you’ll arrive in a 24-foot-high gallery that showcases a curved, travertine staircase, matching the flooring used throughout the home. At the top is the focal point, a customized hand-blown, multicolor-glass chandelier. The walls are essentially floor-to-ceiling windows flanked by customized coral/ shell stone columns. Other features include a custom metal sculpture of a turtle and fish, a 10-foot preserved areca palm, vases, and a custom original stag horn coral sculpture on a pedestal.
Beyond the stair gallery, the hallway leading to the main floor features a shadow-box display wall with custom wave glass lit from above and behind. It was designed to simulate cascading water. This leads to the media room, which displays a vibrant color palette of stadium-seating furniture situated around a 119-inch screen, and then the dining room, which showcases a coastal mural as well as another custom hand-blown glass chandelier—this one resembling floating bubbles. A common element throughout the house is the painted tray ceilings with an organic, amoeba –like shape.
The home’s most notable feature is the saltwater aquarium that measures 9 feet wide, 9 feet tall, and 3 feet deep, which surrounds the fireplace. “This aquarium/fireplace combination had never been done before. The magnificent array of multi-colored coral and fish is so spectacular to watch.” Mullineaux said. “This living art is such a conversation piece.”
SeaVisions, a Florida-based aquarium design company, implemented the concept and helped the homeowners pick out dozens of fish that would peacefully coexist. The aquarium can be illuminated while motorized and programmed window shades help to protect the showpiece from algae-inducing sunlight. The design of the furniture and accessories in this room mimic the movement of the ocean.
The kitchen includes custom cabinetry, a granite and glass topped bar with coral accents, and a backsplash of tumbled travertine with crackled sea glass mosaics. Off of the kitchen is the cabana where above the wainscoting, is a custom mural depicting a playful beach scene of the couple’s grandchildren by mural artist Ellis Furst.
The powder bath has a customized glass floating vanity, vessel bowl and backsplash. The walls and ceiling are uniquely covered in coral stone.
Upstairs you’ll find five of the home’s six bedrooms. All have separate personalities and themes, from antique furniture to a Tahitian -Tommy Bahama décor to Nantucket-style. The master bedroom and bathroom continues with the soothing seafoam tones. The views extend out over their infinity pool toward the serenity of the ocean, sea grass and dunes. “You feel like you’re on vacation at a bed and breakfast,” Mullineaux said. “I like to make each bedroom really unique and different in all my homes.”
The sunset/game room is rightfully named with its spectacular endless views of the marshland and waterways. This room houses a professional pool table and game table, along with a jewel toned sectional for their TV viewing.
The overall result is a home that is a welcoming and comfortable space for the homeowners, as well as their three children and their families, which include nine grandchildren. The owners emphasize how they “couldn’t be more pleased with how everything turned out and the design truly exceeded expectations! Time together with our family is so important to us, and we truly feel we have such a warm inviting home we can enjoy with our friends and family for many years to come!”
“I feel like I can say that it’s probably the most unique home in Wrightsville Beach,” Mullineaux said. “The customization makes it very distinctive.”
In addition to Mullineaux's interior design business, Dezign Inspirations, she also owns Home Design Resource, a 2,000 square-foot showroom at 7204 Wrightsville Avenue, just before the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge. This showroom is open to the public, and offers a chance to buy direct at contractor pricing, she said.
Mullineaux describes the showroom as “one-stop shopping where everything is under one roof.” It encompasses flooring, countertops, lighting, window coverings, furniture, accessories, bedding, area rugs, and more.
“My goal with every project is to create a sanctuary,” Mullineaux said. “I want their home to be an amazing retreat. People are spending more time in the comfort of their own home, and have shied away from the formality of living. My goal with my designs is to create spaces that are a reflection of beauty, comfort and an environment the clients will love living in!” ■
Architect: Michael Kersting, 910-794-7930. Interior Designer: Nancy Mullineaux, 910-256-5644.