Ebbtide Update


The release of Ladies’ Night is only three weeks away (YIKES!) and we are hard at work getting last minute projects done at our new Tybee Island beach cottage, Ebbtide, before I go out on book tour for six weeks. So I thought I’d share a progress report. It’s no coincidence that Grace Stanton, the protagonist of Ladies’ Night is a lifestyle blogger and DIY guru. Any of my regular readers will recognize that I myself am a dedicated house fluffer and project plotter, but I got tons of inspiration for our Ebbtide re-do from many real-life lifestyle bloggers and DIY-ers.

Since we bought this cottage five months ago, my husband and I have busier than the proverbial one-armed paper-hanger fluffing and furnishing. Although Ebbtide is much larger and older than our other house, The Breeze Inn, thankfully, this house needed much less work.

Ebbtide, by the way, was built in 1932, and it is a classic Tybee raised cottage. The house had been in the previous owner’s family since 1945, and they’d done a great job maintaining and updating it, so most of our work was cosmetic.

Since Mr. MKA and I love to cook and entertain, job one was a new kitchen. Our wonderful contractor, Cory Scoville and his crew gutted the existing kitchen, removing a large butler’s pantry and broom closet to give us a bigger space. Here is a before picture. Hard to tell from this photo, but if you opened the pantry door, it banged into the old stove!

ebbtidekitchenbeforeCory’s crew scraped up a couple layers of vinyl to reveal the original oak floors, and they opened up the new kitchen to the adjoining dining room. They built all the kitchen cabinets on-site. We chose a soft gray and white granite called Kashmir for the countertops, and a simple white subway tile backsplash. We kept the existing fridge and added a new gas stove, wall oven, microwave and dishwasher. The new kitchen is a joy to cook in.ebbtidekitchendone1

I loved my old enamel over cast-iron double sink at the Breeze Inn, so of course, I had to track down another for the new kitchen at Ebbtide. This sink came from the Greensboro, Georgia location of an architectural salvage shop called Pinch of the Past. I shop at their Savannah location all the time. The vintage Drive-In, Private Bath sign came from another haunt, Habersham Antiques Market in midtown Savannah.

ebbtidekitchensinkclockOnce the kitchen was finished, Mr. MKA and I rolled up our sleeves and tackled the fun stuff. I hit Craigslist, estate sales and antique shops far and wide for furnishings and accessories. And after much hesitation and second-guessing, we had the original dark pine board and batten walls in the living and dining room painted. Some purists have decried this as a sacrilege–but we found these rooms dark and gloomy and foreboding–and since we’re the ones paying the mortgage note, we get the final vote! The paint color is my favorite white, Benjamin Moore’s Moonlight White, with ceilings painted Benjamin Moore’s Morning Sky Blue. Here’s a shot of the living room before paint.


And here’s the after version, which includes the nifty picture ledges Mr. MKA built, with a little help from my Pinterest page and several on-line tutorials, like this one from the amazing Ana White.. All the paintings were inexpensive ones I’ve collected over the years from estate sales and junk shops. They’d hung in the den of our previous house, but since our current house in Atlanta doesn’t have a den, I had a bin-full of these just waiting for a new home. The slipcovered white twill sofa was a lucky Craigslist score–I call it the sofa of no-return because once you sink into it, you can never get out!


Also in the living room, I cribbed an idea from Miss Mustard Seed’s blog to transform a beat-up mahogany dresser with a spiffy Union Jack paint job. Many years ago I was clever enough to marry an engineer who is capable of pinpoint accuracy when taping off lines for a project like this.



Speaking of collections, I adore vintage tin litho beach toys–watering cans, sand buckets and shovels, which I’ve collected for nearly twenty years. I have part of my collection at The Breeze Inn, so I decided the rest of the toys should find a home at the beach too. We put them on a high-up shelf–where they can be appreciated, but where little hands won’t be tempted to actually take them down to the beach.


These babies are getting harder and harder to track down, and they can be quite expensive too. I found the latest addition to the collection–a toy pump and bucket, at a favorite haunt, Kudzu Antique Market, in Decatur. I love those vintage rattan peacock chairs (scored for $50 for the pair at an estate sale) you see in front of the window here, but my friend Ellen calls them the Morticia Addams chairs.


While I was tracking down more junk, er, treasures, I had Mr. MKA busy making lamps from all kinds of funky old stuff. Like these vintage galvanized tin ice cream churns I bought on eBay. I was actually looking for a pair of cool painted wooden buckets, but I found these for much less money, and I think, a lot more charm. They’re sitting on the oak buffet in the dining room, beneath the framed 1970s bathing suit my friend Barb and I found last month in a great little antique shop in Westerville, Ohio.

ebbtidebuffetAs part of the kitchen project, we had to install a new circuit box–not so conveniently located on a prominent wall in the dining room. I kept looking around for something to hide that box. And then I remembered the vintage 1920s wool Jantzen bathing suit I found last summer while I was junking with my pal Ki Nassauer–of Flea Market Style magazine. Mission accomplished!ebbtidejantzensuitWith the ice cream lamps completed, I sent Mr. MKA back to the workshop to craft a pair of lamps for Boomerang Boy’s downstairs bedroom. This is one of two ground-floor rooms which the former owners only used as storage. We converted them into bedrooms by painting floors and walls, updating wiring and installing window air conditioner units. The nightstands were a pair of fugly chests I found at Tybee’s city-wide yard sale for around $25. They were painted baby poop brown–with linoleum tacked to their tops.

fuglybrowndressersThe dented Old Pal bait bucket was Mr. MKA’s from his teen years, and I bought the Falls City bucket either at Scott’s or on eBay. Here’s the room now–with the windows draped with a huge piece of vintage bunting.



The other ground floor bedroom was formerly home to a big honkin’ hot water heater–and storage. Mr. MKA and his brother Bob the Builder transformed it by constructing a closet around the heater. Now it’s a cool space with vintage twin beds contributed by my friend Ellen, a pair of estate sale quilts, estate sale nightstands, an old wire Tom’s Peanuts rack I swiped from my booth at Seaside Sisters, and another pair of Mr. MKA’s lamps–this time hanging pendant lamps made from old minnow traps I found at Scott’s. I found a tutorial to make them from Brittany of Pretty Handy Girl, and then he free-styled them, because he could.


Because I hate bare walls, I dug around in my stash of old stuff until I came up with a vintage chicken mash sack, which had an awesome design screen-printed on both sides. I cut the sack in half and then stapled each half above the bed–directly onto the wall–because I’m KLASSY like that.


We’re still finishing up some more projects around here, but now it’s time for me to get back to work–finishing my Christmas book, which will be out this October (EEK!) and getting ready for the publication of LADIES’ NIGHT. Check my tour schedule here to see where I’ll be signing (and junking) this summer. And yes, you too can have a family vacation–or a ladies’ night of your own, at Ebbtide. We’re pretty booked for summer (heck, I can’t even stay here in June or July!) but check with the girls at Mermaid Cottage Vacation Rentals for availability starting in late August.