A 6,000 acre property of pine woodland, cypress swamp, and pecan groves in southern Georgia is the setting for this new residence, which serves the centerpiece for the property’s entertaining and agricultural life for a family from New York. Built on the site of a 1940’s hunting cabin overlooking a 19th century gristmill pond, the house, for which we designed both the architecture and interior decoration, was conceived with a deliberate nod to the historic properties of the region and with a clear reverence for the traditions of South Georgia’s “shooting propoerties.”

Many of the 19th century Southern agrarian properties found new life as hunting preserves for wealthy Northerners in the first part of the 20th century. The original houses, a number of which date from the 1840’s, were repurposed and added onto in the 1920’s and ‘30’s to become shooting lodges for hunting quail, duck, and deer. Our design is inspired by these traditions, evoking the dual history of properties like this in the character of its architecture—creating a mythology for the evolution of the house through the creation of two distinct but integrated wings: a Greek Revival 1840’s wing and a later, Colonial Revival 1920’s wing. The interior architecture and decoration also reflects this dual history, as well as the character and mood of family houses with similar histories and sporting traditions in this region.

For the interior decoration, our clients wanted an atmosphere that was collected, comfortable, elegant but unpretentious, and deeply connected to the traditions of Georgia’s quail properties. The intentionally “old-fashioned” character of our interiors also conveys an air of comfort that was essential to our clients as a place to be together as a family and entertain numerous guests. The main house and guest cottage can accommodate up to 24 people at any one time.

We spent four years working in close collaboration with our clients collecting all of the furniture, fabrics, carpets, art, china and glassware, linens, and decorative objects required to completely furnish the residence, and give it the desired ambience of a house that had been lived in and loved for generations. Elements that we were unable to source as antiques or repurpose—including some carpets, lighting, beds and mantels—we designed and had custom made for the house.

The landscape design for the project, for which we collaborated with Deborah Nevins, was equally comprehensive, and included re-routing the original driveway across the property to create a more dramatic entry experience. Guests now wind through the wild land before arriving at a new formal allée of live oaks, which is on axis with the front door, while new formal gardens surround the house as a whole and frame views out from the interior.

On the house’s south-facing facade, a deep wrap-around porch was designed to provide a shady spot for warm afternoons and to overlook a series of terraced garden rooms. These spaces were designed to bring a formal order and structure to the shifting terrain that transitions from the house site down to a large 19th century grist-mill pond in one direction and a guest cottage nestled into the woods in the other. Small fountain pools anchor each of the garden terraces—along with a lattice summerhouse gazebo—and create the pleasing sound water for the adjacent porches. At the larger of the two pools, a pair of lead turtle fountain spouts spit across the water at each other and are a whimsical nod to the live snapping turtles found just below in the mill pond.

Landscape Design: Deborah Nevins Associates
Photography: Eric Piasecki
Styling: Helen Crowther