Awash in Color

Bright decor ideas reinvigorate a light and breezy bay house.

When MaryLou and Hugh Hyland reconfigured their home’s layout, her No. 1 request of architect Pete Vallas was to move the kitchen to the bay side. “Even if I’m indoors cooking, I can still see everything that’s going on outside so I’m not missing all the fun.” Meanwhile, with a gin and tonic in hand, Hugh mans the Big Green Egg outdoors. “Hugh is obsessed and cooks on it most every night.” Photos by Todd Douglas
The dining table is ready for a crowd. Vietri pottery in lastra white and aqua are layered over Juliska straw placemats. Yellow spider mums in a white trumpet vase and turquoise napkins add striking jolts of color. William Yeoward wine goblets and Casafina dotted iced tea glasses are the finishing touches. Place settings courtesy of The Ivy Cottage.

If homes are works of art, the charming Mullet Point bay house of MaryLou and Hugh Hyland is a neutral, textural canvas daubed with invigorating vibrant pigment.

MaryLou, a freelance graphic artist and a former Mobile Bay staff art director in the late ’80s, has always had an eye for color and design. The mother of four – Augusta, Marianna, Harrison and Jack – equally values the importance of comfort and livability in a space. So when she and Hugh first bought and renovated their cinder block bay house in the spring of 2001, she set out to merge her priorities to create a cheery, cozy getaway. “We wanted a slower paced summer. It’s easy to end up in your car all day shuttling from one camp to another, but not here. Instead, this is camp, ” she laughs.

With the help of architect Pete Vallas, they reconfigured the layout of the two-bedroom home so that it functioned for a family of six and their guests. Ceilings were raised, a second floor added and porches enclosed. The upstairs master suite, complete with a private screened porch balcony, became a retreat for mom and dad, while the downstairs expanded to include girls’ and boys’ bunkrooms and a guest room. Whitewashed paneling was added to every wall and ceiling, hardwood floors were brushed in a lively sage green and the stairwell was lacquered in an inviting buttery yellow. By that Labor Day, the Hylands moved in, and MaryLou outfitted the spaces with her delightful collection of reconfigured estate and rummage sale finds, mostly in whites with pops of red.

The Hylands have enjoyed every summer since at the beloved place; however, one was cut short. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, the interior of the house was completely devastated and all the furnishings lost in gobs of murky mud. “My dishes drifted all the way out the back of the house and around into the front yard.”

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Fortunately though, the structure was still sound so the family again set to work transforming the interior. “The second time around, I let go of my design color scheme. If I like something, I buy it. Everything works together in this casual, eclectic mix. It’s more fun when I don’t try to match and coordinate everything.”

Today, like a delightful abstract painting, a multicolored palette of sinuous textiles blends with hard lines of distressed, vintage furnishings to create one harmonious composition, as alluring as the glorious sunset landscapes just outdoors.


ABOVE LEFT Sage green floors, buttery yellow stairs, a striped runner, shabby chic painted furnishings and original artwork create a sunny welcome.

ABOVE RIGHT MaryLou kicks off her sandals to curl up with a good book on the sunporch. The decor is an eclectic mix featuring many revitalized yard sale treasures.

ABOVE The girls’ bunkroom sleeps a crowd. White matelassé bedding is paired with hand-sewn pillows MaryLou created with new and vintage Marimekko textiles. “I get bored so I constantly make new pillows to change things up.”


ABOVE LEFT The Hylands’ master bedroom is the picture of serenity. Natural light dances around the room. Vintage monogrammed linens, which MaryLou’s sister, Lynn Clapper, happened upon in France, are coupled with a subtle, celery-colored, floral bed skirt and shams. Daughter Augusta Hyland Wilson, a Savannah College of Art and Design grad, painted the pair of lime oil works.

ABOVE RIGHT The upstairs master bath is a rejuvenating oasis. A suspended mirror over a peninsula vanity with back-to-back double sinks is a genius space solution. The wood walls and ceilings add old-time texture to every room.


ABOVE Inspired by bay houses of yesteryear, the Hylands affixed whitewashed two-by-two panels to the cinder block walls. The ecru backdrop creates a gallery to showcase art, much of which was produced by Wilson. She and MaryLou, each while students in college, created the two ink self-portrait drawings, “When I saw her piece (center), ” MaryLou says, “I was amazed at how similar it was to a drawing of mine (top right) from 30 years ago. She had never even seen it. I had to hang them together.”


ABOVE LEFT Fun and games are always at the top of the vacation agenda. The boys regularly practice their golf short game on a miniature green on the pier or pick up a game of hoops out on the wharf, while nieces and nephews play croquet. The ladies enjoy sunbathing, reading in colorful Adirondack chairs under the pergola or playing Scrabble on the screened-in porch. Rainy days call for a leisurely round of Monopoly. Ping-pong tournaments are also a favorite activity, second only to hosting their spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show, which attracts boaters from all over the Bay. Even though the kids are all grown now, they still come back often. The family looks forward to introducing the next generation to the camp this summer when Wilson and her husband, Brett, welcome the Hylands’ first grandchild.

ABOVE RIGHT Shih-Poo Loralei’s favorite time of day is happy hour. “She hears me pop the cork and pour a glass of wine, and she knows it’s time to go out on the wharf and mingle with the neighbors, ” laughs MaryLou.

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