Home combines coastal flair with feel of the Deep South

by RaeLynn Callaway

Donna and Joey Benton knew when they built their final home, it would have a coastal, restoration flair combined with the mannerisms and allure of the Deep South.

The beautiful rock fireplace is the focal point for the keeping room. The tongue and groove paneling turned backward gives this space the charm of an old farm house. The coffee table is designed and built by Joey. (Mike Kemp photo)

The Greenbrier couple wanted a home that represented nature’s simple, perfect charm and the lifestyle that would follow. They created a home defined by the storied lifestyle of a close-knit family – a family of artists, thinkers and painters that create a fantastic escape from the ordinary. They created the perfect canvas that inspires creativity and begs for attention.

“We wanted to create a home that reflected the style of coastal living while using the inspiration of an Old South farm house,” Joey said. “We wanted a big house with a small house feel. I worked really hard on the design to compartmentalize so none of the rooms would feel vast.”

In the living room, Joey and Donna use slip-covered furniture with a mix of case pieces. “We have a culmination of unique pieces; if I can’t find that perfect piece, Joey will just design it and make it for me.” (Mike Kemp photo)

The Bentons aspired to construct a home that brought the elements of the outdoors in. They have several sets of doors throughout the house – so many, I lost count! “Why put a window where you can have a door?” Joey said.

All the doors open out so during the spring, summer and fall the Bentons can open up the house and really enjoy their outdoor spaces.

The Bentons enjoy a galley kitchen. “We actually stood back to back working in our kitchen and had our son measure us. We wanted the kitchen to be functional and didn’t want to waste any space,” Joey said.

Because the kitchen is open on three sides, there is no place for a lot of cabinetry and upper cabinets. “We needed a place for dishes, so we designed our pantry. We used the inspiration of an old neighborhood grocery.”

In keeping with the older homes of the South, the Benton pantry reflects charm and nostalgia while serving its practical, utilitarian purpose.

“The pantry is ideal for entertaining,” Donna said. “We can prepare food and take all the dirty dishes there, leaving the kitchen open and clean for our guests. It also helps us enjoy our guests without feeling the need to clean things up.”

The Bentons own and operate Waterhouse market. (Visit waterhousemarket.com for more information.)

The Bentons wanted their master bedroom and bath to have the ambience of a vacation home on the beach. They used light airy colors with the accent of glass mosaic tiles to give the aura of polished sea glass and beaches along the lakeshore. (Mike Kemp photo)

“I collect, restore, enhance and repurpose antique, vintage and retro furniture and décor,” Donna said. “I collected and piddled for years going to estate sales and auctions. It was really a family decision to make it a business. We all contribute different talents to make it work.”

Donna has a gift – to take old, broken down furniture, antiques and decorative elements and make them relevant. To look at an old piece of furniture or metal and envision what it will become is truly amazing.

In the kitchen, beautiful, dark granite was used on the countertops to contrast with the grey painted cabinets. (Mike Kemp photo)