Interior Bliss in Sea Island, Georgia


Written by Christian T. Owen

Photographed by Kim Sargent

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In order to create the work of art that is their vacation home in Sea Island, mid-South residents Helen and Bill Benton commissioned interior designer William R. Eubanks and his colleague, D. Mitchell Brown. The artistry and style of Helen Benton, who is a professional fashion designer and painter, is evident in the final work – a unified canvas brought to fruition with illustrative details implemented by this versatile design firm. Benton’s desired theme for the interior was to connect with the landscape. With unobstructed scenic views repeated inside with colors, shapes and textures from this lush natural setting, it is hard to distinguish where the outdoors ends, and the interior space begins.

The work Eubanks has completed for the Benton family over may years is truly a microcosmic demonstration of the design firm’s attentiveness to clients’ changing needs and inspirations. For example, the Bentons enjoyed a previous home in the Cloisters at Sea Island that Eubanks decorated. In order to make room for their growing Family, complete with children and grandchildren, to visit at the same time, a new Sea Island vacation home with more space and functionality was needed. Eubanks recounts the traditional style of the Bentons’ original Cloisters residence in contrast to the minimalistic, modern appeal of this home. Eubanks introduces the new, modern residence as a home where “the lines are simple, but it does not feel empty.”

“This home is fine, first of all, comfortable to live in, be in and experience,” Brown adds. Eubanks and Brown confirm that both Frank Lloyd Wright’s twentieth-century melding of architecture with furniture and the landscape, and decorative artist Karl Springer’s mid-seventies modern furniture designs influenced the creative team’s work in this home. Pivotal elements contributing to the success of this project include recurring geometric shapes that connect to the architecture, a consistent return to all that the creative team gleaned from studying this landscape’s composition, and the juxtaposition of multiple mirrors and artwork. Helen Benton’s individuality is expressed in her paintings throughout the home.

Because the home has an open floor plan, repeated themes are distinct and visible, but subtle. A sampling of this full-circle approach to repeated themes and patterns begins in the foyer, where Faux parchment square panels on the walls are reflective of squares that make up the dining room table design. And leather chairs around d the square-shaped table are parchment in color. The dining room also provides a clear occurrence of functionality for a growing family. Two consoles that reside along the dining room wall can be pulled up to the main table to create a large rectangular table that is almost twice as big as the main piece – a clever furniture design created in-house by the Eubanks firm. “Every object has a purpose, and this home has no clutter,” adds Eubanks.

The main ideas carried from the outdoors to interior rooms are space and harmony. The kitchen that Eubanks and Brown formulated for this family has highly organized closet and cabinet space to achieve a no-clutter look. This room is central to the home’s arrangement. It is an integral part of the entire day, from casual breakfast conversations to stepped-up entertaining in the evening. Light fixtures over the counter were selected to reflect cloud shapes, one of many understated, fun concepts for achieving relaxed indoor bliss.

Decorative choices in the master room were inspired by the marsh, clearly viewed through grand-sized windows.  Consider the shape and flow of a serene marsh just behind the home; then trace the lines of furniture and upholstery patterns throughout the master bedroom, all custom designed and manufactured by the Eubanks firm. The connection is restrained but evident once Eubanks and Brown call attention to this thematic detail. Another behind-the-scenes glimpse of artists at work: when ascending the stairway, a captivating combination of decorative engravings and floor-to-ceiling mirrors, which bookend a small landing, all come together to make a grand statement.

From the garden gate entry and courtyard, through the home’s interior, and continuing to a reflecting pool with formal plantings in the foreground and scenic natural views in every direction, the lines of demarcation are difficult to see. Eubanks and Brown’s work includes many vacation homes and takes them to various regions in the country. Coupled with the homeowner’s vision, the design team created an ideal Sea Island retreat. They identified the main reason this area is highly ranked among vacation spots – the landscape – and brought the region’s scenic beauty inside.