When Jeff and Jill Morris started planning their Harbor Island home, there were two non-negotiables. It had to have lots of outdoor living spaces and windows to take advantage of the views of Motts Channel and the waters beyond. And the interior had to be designed around Jill's art collection.
Jeff, a custom builder and owner of Old Fort Building & Development, worked with Sullivan Design Company to achieve the former. The ground level features cooking and seating areas around the pool. The two upper levels offer unobstructed views of the dock and great expanses of marsh grass and water.
The couple used Liz Carroll of Liz Carroll Interiors to design the d?cor around the art.
"I've been collecting art for 20 years," Jill says. "The house started with all the artwork and we did everything around it. Jeff had worked with Liz and loved her. It was a good collaboration. She was really good with sticking to our vision."
The couple didn't originally plan to settle in Wrightsville Beach.
"We had a lot on Figure Eight we were going to build on," Jill says. "We worked with an architect, and worked on the plans a long time. It didn't pan out. We found this lot and decided we'd rather be in town."
The new home replaced a small house that was built in the early 1970s.
"It was a small little A-frame that was sitting about seven feet off the ground," Jeff says. "I don't know if they knew what they had with the view. Now it's similar to if you're looking out of a house on the backside of Figure Eight."
Jeff and Jill's living space is on the top floor.
"The best views are from upstairs," Jill says. "We did a big den and our master bedroom upstairs. We call it the adult den."
They chose a neutral color palette that wouldn't contrast with Jill's collection.
"Crazy colors and patterns would have competed with the art," Carroll says. "We wanted it beautiful and sophisticated."
The low profile of the sofa includes a short back that does not extend above the bottom of the windows, so there are no restrictions on the view or the light.
Nail heads in the wallpaper create the pattern in the powder room on the main level.
The oversized, comfortable green velvet chaise plays off the colors in the art by Selena Beaudry in the sitting area, but Jeff and Jill didn't want the green and pink to dominate the rest of the master suite.
"It needed to work for both Jeff and Jill," Carroll says. "The bed was the first piece we ordered. It had pretty gray tones. We built from there."
The low profile of the wood cabinet keeps it under the window, but it includes a motorized, pop-up television.
The light fixtures in the master bath were chosen to lend visual interest and complement the theme of ample art in every room.
"We used a lot of beautiful lighting in this house, lighting I would consider art," Carroll says.
His-and-hers closets reflect the personalities of the homeowners.
"My closet is very rustic," Jeff says. "There's not a lot of masculine things in this house except for that closet."
The wallpaper in the stairwell between the top two floors also might be considered art. It's hand-painted on individual panels.
"They lay it out and paint the panels side-by-side to make sure they connect to each other," Carroll says. "Because the stairwell is so open and tall, the graphic nature of the wallpaper makes a statement. It's graphic and bold, but neutral as well."
The couple opted for a drop zone in the entryway rather than a coat closet.
"I did not want a closet, because a closet ends up being all of our stuff in there," Jill says. "I wanted this to be more for guests to put their coats or their purses or whatever they have."
Atlanta-based artist Tony Hernandez's encaustic paintings are displayed in the stairwell between the main living area and ground floor. He came to Wrightsville Beach to repair "Lying in King's Blue" on the lower landing in exchange for a day of ocean fishing on Jeff's boat.
In the main living area, the contrast between the rug and furniture and the dark quartzite and light wall plays off the art on the wall to the left of the fireplace, which was commissioned for the space.
The 36-inch diameter base of the dining table was custom-made by an iron fabricator to support the 70-inch stone top.
The pool table came from Jeff and Jill's previous home, but was recovered to match the d?cor. "We entertain a lot. Everybody plays whenever they come over," Jill says.
The table on the deck was also ordered with entertaining in mind. It seats 10 for more formal gatherings of family and friends, but pulls apart to encourage mingling at informal parties.
The decks feature ipe flooring and railings and powder-coated aluminum handrails.
Cookware, dishware and glassware provide splashes of color in the kitchen and bar area. The barstools, featuring swivel tops covered with charcoal-colored leather, were custom-made to tuck in under the island, continuing the theme of nothing extending above window-height and obstructing the light and views.
The light fixture over the island is by Lindsey Adelman. "I knew I wanted this light fixture two years ago. It was the first thing we chose," Jill says.
The backsplash at the bar is a mixture of stone and copper to pick up on the quartzite waterfall edge and countertops and the wood tones in the cabinets.
Complete with butler's pantry, there are ample drawers, cabinets, and recessed shelves to store everything.
Jeff's two daughters have their rooms on the main living floor. The oldest girl's bedroom includes a bunkroom with a daybed, a space ideal for hanging out with friends. The rooms include more accent colors and patterns than elsewhere in the house, giving them a more youthful vibe.