Since 1997, HGTV has been designing and giving away HGTV Dream Homes every year, in locations from Jackson Hole to Martha’s Vineyard. This year’s prize is on Georgia’s St. Simons Island, which gives Atlantans even more reason to enter the contest. In addition to the fully furnished home, the winner will receive a new Honda Pilot and $250,000 cash. Anyone can enter online twice daily from December 28 to February 17. HGTV celeb and Atlanta designer Brian Patrick Flynn, who completely renovated this 1980s abode, gave us the inside scoop about the project.
What’s unique about designing an HGTV Dream Home versus working for a “normal” client?
The dream actually becomes a reality for me as the designer because I don’t have an actual “client” to run all purchases by! But I cannot simply come in and do up the house in my signature aesthetic. Since it’s a giveaway and virtually anyone who enters could end up living in the house, it’s important to appeal to a wide audience of hopefuls. I need to offer up a nice mix of design styles in a cohesive way that flows throughout the entire house. In some ways, it’s more freeing than a working with a private client; and in other ways, it’s five hundred times more complex.
How did you land on the blue-and-white scheme?
There are five spaces in the house that fit the classic blue-and-white scheme: the pool lounge, the pool lounge bathroom, the master bedroom, the laundry room, and the master bathroom. Those rooms are all geared towards tranquility, which is the reason for the coastal color combination. But the main spaces of the house are simply earth tones that blend with the million-dollar view of the marsh out the back windows. I saved blue-and-white for spaces without perspectives of the marsh so that I’m not detracting from the greens, grays, and browns outside.
You painted the garage blue! Love it! Why?
The garage is a really deep shade of teal that reads green during the day and blue at night. I did this as a surprise once the garage door opens. The entire exterior is black and white; so when the door rises, you immediately get this unexpected jolt of jewel tone.
How did you incorporate “beach-y” elements while keeping things fresh and modern?
I purposely stayed away from anything remotely beach-y mostly because I feel like it’s been done so many times. I tried to invent something fresh that’s more about the marsh than the actual coast. To bring that to life I stuck with vernacular materials like pecky cypress on the ceiling, art inspired by the local landscape, and kitchen counters made of cement and oyster shells. I brought in coastal and Southern style, but I tried to stay away from anything beach-y.
What inspired you to use a few patterned wallpapers?
Wallpaper is something that has not really been used that much in the 21 years of HGTV Dream Home, and I thought it would be fun to introduce the massive variety of wallcoverings that we designers use regularly. Since the patterns I chose are all classic but also fresh and fun, I think they will ease people into the notion of using wallcoverings—especially if they still think of them as stuck in the 1980s. That is so not the case!
You painted the ceiling of the master bedroom the same color as the walls. Why? When does this work, and when doesn’t it?
I paint ceilings the same color as or a few shades lighter than the walls 90 percent of the time unless I’m worried about the room getting too dark. That master bedroom gets tons of natural light from all of its windows, and the use of the dark color makes this generously sized space seem more intimate. In the guest bedroom, which is covered with plaid wallpaper, I kept the ceiling white to help bounce light around the space and keep the true hues of the pattern reading correctly.
You selected a nice modern ceiling fan for the master. What’s your opinion on ceiling fans?
I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, and we had fans in every single room. So now that I’m an adult, of course, I cannot stand ceiling fans! But lately I have been sourcing lots of them. Nicer ones can double as sculpture. If the fan introduces a material that keeps the room curated with texture and finish, I’m up for it. If it’s just your run-of-the-mill fan, I say skip it and instead use a vintage tabletop fan.
The sofas are white. Won’t they be hard to maintain at the beach?
The sofas are off-white cotton duck and they’re slipcovered. So if there’s a spill, a simple toss into the washer and dryer and a little steaming will have it good as new. My trick for slipcovers is making sure you steam them after you put them on, and spend a good hour doing it. It really helps relax the fabric and get rid of those pesky wrinkles or puckers.
What inspired the green subway tile in the kitchen? Also the green counters and hardware?
My favorite thing about the marsh is the myriad of deep greens: mossy, grassy, forest, hunter, army, pea. I decided to layer moss, forest, and hunter green with custom backsplash tile, countertops with deep emerald green paint thrown into the cement-and-oyster-shell mix, and leather-wrapped bronze cabinet hardware.
Plaid on plaid in the guest bedroom! How did you pull that off?
I’m a massive Betsy Burnham fan (Burnham Design in Los Angeles), and she is the master of mixing plaids and checks. So I took some inspiration from her effortless prowess and went a bit into the classic Southern hunting direction with forest green–and–red plaid wallpaper; then fire engine red–and–black buffalo check on the duvet; and, for one more layer of complexity, a chunky nautical stripe rug.
What was the toughest challenge of this project?
The toughest challenge of this project is completely remodeling a house inside and out year after year in a city I don’t live in! [Flynn has done one previous HGTV Dream Home and two HGTV Urban Oasis homes.] All of the trips back and forth with brand new teams each year keep me on my toes and make me a stronger designer. It’s almost like waking up and going to the first day of kindergarten every year. I never know who I’m going be playing with or sitting next to!
What’s your favorite part of this house?
The formal dining room is, by far, my favorite part of the house. I feel like it’s something brand new that hasn’t been seen in any of the HGTV Dream Homes of the past: it’s more moody, very curated, and pared back, super sculptural and edgy but with a refined Southern spin. I’m really proud of that room!
HGTV Dream Home sponsors and resources include Honda; Lumber Liquidators, Inc.; Quicken Loans; Wayfair; Cabinets To Go; Delta Faucet; Cesar Canine Cuisine; Realtor.com; Trex Company, Inc.; Belgard; Icon Health & Fitness; SimpliSafe Home Security; Sleep Number; Greenworks Tools; and Bose Corporation.