Patti Howell recalls visiting a place outside of Copenhagen where she saw an image so striking, she relives it today. She walked through a restaurant with five rooms, each paneled by different colors. She looked out of the window, at a white mare standing in a field of yellow mustard flowers with a thatched-roof cottage in the background.
The whole area was so natural. That country is so beautiful, the interior designer says.
To Howell, that moment was part of her inspiration to design a retreat in Wilmington, harkening back to the Swedish style. She teamed up with local builder Jimmy Doster to create one of the first custom homes in Autumn Hall.
In Sweden, Howell fell in love with the Gustavian type of architecture.
I love the European feel. I said, This is going to be a Gustavian beach house.
The Swedes tend to create light-filled interiors to counterbalance long periods of darkness in the winter.
Their idea of bringing light inside appealed to me because I love a light
interior, Howell says. The homes are so light and bright inside, it made the cold weather nonexistent.
In designing her new home, Howell says she incorporated Swedish design elements. While the Swedish style is dominant in
her home, she says it also leans toward a San Francisco style and includes some
St. Augustine architectural elements as well. These include balconies, large overhangs and the use of louvers.
Howell worked with the architect to add personal choices, including the louvered portion of the loggia, the trellis around the garage window, the large overhang and the shape of the feature windows in the living room and the kitchen.
The curved front door, arched foyer, textured walls and paneled wainscoting are all characteristic of the Gustavian style. The paneled board, she says, is always painted, always light. Theres a character to it that allows the light to come in.
Rounding the corner into the living room, Howells love of light is evident. The room is brightened from the painted beams on the ceiling to the light floors underfoot. The beams are painted white, but because of the treatment, the grain is revealed.
Howell carefully selected her pickled oak hardwood floors. She had seen a sample she loved in Florida, but the timing didnt work, so she carried the sample to a local shop that is no longer in business. The shop was able to produce the floor boards in house. Through the process of racking dry laying the boards in a desired pattern she was able to achieve the look she wanted.
When they were through, it looked like a million bucks, she says.
The limestone mantel and surround was shipped in three pieces. Howell vetted several masons to find one that was able to assemble it. Large glass doors flank the fireplace, allowing light to pour inside.
The secretary in the living room is an antique inherited from Howells mother. It showcases Howells collection of blue and white porcelain and china. The house was actually designed with her mother in mind, as Howell planned for her to live there. But she passed away at age 92, just before the house was completed.
Her extensive art collection was another key element of her dcor.
For me, the artwork came first all the time, Howell says. The dining room showcases a Claude Howell landscape an unusual style for a beloved local painter.
As a friend of the late Howell, she jokingly referred to him as cousin. Living in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s, she acquired many pieces of art, most notably a Pierre Bonnard sketch, which became a study for the c. 1935 Bather series.
Howell mixed her paint tints onsite. The kitchen is bright and fresh, with tones of sand, white and sea glass. The cabinet doors were inspired by trips to the islands.
I had seen some doors on a Bahamian cottage and took a picture. It was tucked away, and I pulled it out and took it to the shop, Howell says. Hollingsworth Cabinetry built doors reminiscent of the Bahamian doors, which she painted a color called sea glass.
The center island and some countertops are Italian marble, while the countertop surrounding the sink is a rare piece of chocolate brown limestone. Over the limestone is a custom wall covered in coquille stone from the southern islands of Florida. The room is polished off with Italian floor tile in a variety of sand tones.
A cozy nook between the kitchen and the hall to the laundry room and guest bath has built-in benches looking across the terrace.
The side yard is a truly unique space, achieved by Howell working with Josh Mihaly of Mihaly Land Design. It features a multi-leveled terrace running along the side of the house, incorporating oversized stone pavers separated by mondo grass.
The lay of the land dictated that, Howell says.
They built the wall along the sidewalk and filled in the side yard to raise the terrace to the floor elevation.
Its a seamless grade between the house elevation and the courtyard, Mihaly says. Its a long lineal garden that goes from the driveway to the finished floor elevation. Its a classic example of how to get the most out of a really tight space, he says.
Because the terrace is up high, it offers an unobstructed view of a nearby pond, essentially blocking the view of the sidewalk and street.
It creates a seamless view using the grade and the surrounding landscape, Mihaly says.
The yard is made up of all plants no grass including classic southern plants and formal hedges. The materials and design work are an extension of the home, Mihaly says.
Downstairs are two bedrooms, each with its own bath, which Howell had planned for her mother, as well as a live-in caregiver.
A home office sits at the top of the stairs, which houses design books and files for her business, Howell Interiors. Just around the corner is her haven the master suite.
The room is done in tones of soft aqua and white.
This room happened as a result of two watercolors my mother had, Howell says. One was Dufys At the Races. The other is a large green and blue reproduction of a French fabric design, Lillies, by Paule Marrot acquired at Paysage, which hangs over the nailhead-trimmed white headboard. French doors open to a Juliet balcony.
The wood clad tray ceiling is Bermudian in style.
I dont think a room is ever well-decorated until its well-trimmed. I do love good trim work, she says. With trim work, its important to know what works historically, she says. Trim gives character without lots of accessories.
The bath is serene in white, highlighted by the Carrara marble countertops. Howell
had the shower door and the bath custom made.
Design hunting is in Howells bloodline. Her father was an architect in Gross Pointe, Michigan, building for auto industry executives.
I think the design part comes from that side of the family. I love architecture.
I love design. I knew in my heart I wanted to do this.
Creating this Home of Distinction
Homeowner Patti Howell
Architect Scott Lechtrecker, Ocean 3 Design
Building Contractor Doster Building Company, Inc.
Interior Designer Howell Interiors
Landscape Designer Mihaly Land Design, Pllc
Appliances Atlantic Appliance & Hardware
Audio/Visual Audio Visions
Plumber Kersey Coastal Plumbing
Plumbing Fixtures Ferguson Enterprises, Inc., Bird Decorative Hardware & Bath
Electrician East Brunswick Electrical Company
Electric Fixtures Circa Lighting
Lighting Fixtures Candelabra
Hardwood Supplier/Installer Jackson Floors
Carpet Supplier Stark Carpet
Kitchen Designer/Cabinet Manufacturer/Installer Hollingsworth Cabinetry
Kitchen/Master Bath/Bathroom Countertops SupplierSoutheastern Marble and Granite
Backsplash Supplier Trevi Tile Installation, Inc.
Countertops/ Backsplash Installer Sellers Tile Company, Inc.
Tile Supplier Southeastern Tile Connection,
Florida Tile Tile Installer Trevi Tile Installation, Inc.
Master Bath/Closet Cabinets Hollingsworth Cabinetry
Family Room/Den/Library/Walls and Ceiling Risely Padula Construction, Inc.
Kitchen & Specialty Hardware Bird Decorative Hardware & Bath
Bath Hardware Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
Shower Doors Coastal Glass & Hardware, Inc.
Other accessories Paysage
Closets Coastal Glass & Hardware, Inc.
Painting Ryan Kerlin Painting
HVAC Airmax Heating and Cooling, Inc.
Doors TruStile Doors, LLC
Landscaping Wrightsville Beach Landscaping & Lawn Care, Inc., Stone Garden, Joyscapes
Roofing All Seasons Roofing, Inc.
Gutters Evenflow Seamless Gutters
Fireplace: Mantel Jerry Pair Fine Furnishings
Mason McGraw Hardscapes
Fireplace: Inner Workings Carolina Fireplace Distributors
Framing Going Vertical, Inc.