Homes with a Heartbeat

February 2011
Written By: 
Denise Mullen
Photographs by: 
Christopher Shane

Giving residents open their doors and hearts to support the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum

Home of Penny & Hugh Martin

"Everything in this house means something to us,” says the ebullient Penny Martin as she points out hand-painted tiles surrounding her living room fireplace by local artist Macon Epps.

A fine art collector and hobbyist, Penny has imbued her Louisiana-style home in Dunes Cove with original paintings and sculpture and plies her fine eye for detail to sewing, basket weaving, crochet and quilting.

On this stop of the tour, you will want to take notes on how to creatively blend the old and the new into outstanding design elements.

A downstairs powder room pays tribute to husband Hugh’s career as a financial advisor. He has collected out-of-use stock certificates and warrants for years. In myriad colors and often embossed, Penny Martin transformed the “paper money” into a one-of-a-kind wallpaper treatment adhered with a special wheat paste.

Throughout the Martin home, antique pieces mingle with Millie Daud’s folksy hand-painted furnishings, while pattern and texture run the gamut from Thibaut’s exuberant “Tidal Pool” wallcovering in the master bathroom to homemade quilts painstakingly sewn of character and color and smartly mixed with sophisticated Ralph Lauren linens.

Penny loves to monogram and a cursive “M” pops up as a graceful touch to occasional chairs and pillows. She made all the window treatments in the home and of particular note are the curtains made of age-worn tablecloths, tea-dyed and monogrammed.

The couple’s love of arts and crafts is only rivaled by their devotion to family, the deep affection displayed in Penny’s office with walls full of artful photo collages and an ascending trail of mat-and-framed ancestors stretching along the stairwell.

“This home is serendipity to me,” she says as she scans her seasonal breakfast tablescape of green faux pears, rustic placemats and gold ceramic bowls that came to her as a gift. “All kinds of things seem to come into my possession or I save something from being tossed away and I find a way to make them part of my home.”

Prepare to be inspired at the Martin home—you’ll discover how to take a host of unlikely and seemingly disparate objects and welcome them into a household in the most unique ways.

Home of Jane Whaley

You might look at the outside of Jane Whaley’s home and determine the style to be Mediterranean, only with cleaner, more linear lines. Inside, it may at first seem classic, but as you tour around, it becomes more like the lady of the house describes, “It’s basically a Floridian-style home, but with a Lowcountry flair. … I often call it a warm and fuzzy version of contemporary.”

And what this really means is that Jane Whaley’s Plantation Point residence is a culmination of “a few of her favorite things,” and those “things” become the subject of stunning vignettes in the hands of this professional home stager and decorator.

Although the Whaley home inches up on 4,000 square feet, it is a cozy warren of interrelated rooms, designed so that each space becomes its own event when you enter it. “I raised my three children here,” she says. “This home was big enough for all of us, but not so big that we felt disconnected or had to talk to each other by intercom.”

Jane fell in love with the home at first sight and her favorite space has always been the entryway just inside a weighty double front door, the glass insets etched in palm fronds. “I love walking into my house,” Jane says gazing through the back windows that peek out to the resort-style backyard. “It’s welcoming and calm. … I can hear the water outside. … sometimes I’ll sit right here and read for hours.”

This is the home on the tour to scope out just what architectural details can do for interior design.
High borne windows are flanked by built-in columns to accentuate height. Banks of rectangular window boxes with deep-set sills work beautifully in any given room with perhaps a round porthole of panes or a half-moon casement. Niches over main doorways and barrel archways lead from room to room.

Jane worked form and fashion into main rooms to accommodate stylish living with child-rearing.

A glass and iron Henredon table may have a few scratches from years of after-school homework, but under a cascading flower arrangement and backdrop of antiques and fine drapery, it visually shines while hitting the books.

Jane cleverly incorporated an upstairs children’s lounge, a “very forgiving space,” cut out of a second-story landing, complete with sofa, club chairs and flat screen television—perfect for hanging-out, but within clear earshot of Mom.

For Jane Whaley, her home is the epicenter of serenity and happiness, a collection of fine furnishings, accessories and artwork. “When I’m at home, I feel like I’m on vacation,” the soft-spoken Jane nearly whispers. “What could be better than that?”