Coastal Living by Design

Every talented interior designer is able to look at an empty space and envision how it will look when the work is completed. And then she works a little magic to turn that empty space into a well-designed reality.

Hannah Fulton Toney of J. Banks Design Group on Hilton Head Island was able to work just that type of magic on a new 5,500-square-foot, second-row ocean home in Sea Pines. Some of the bones were already in place — cabinets, tiling, light fixtures, kitchen finishes, shelving — but the home was far from complete. 

“It was waiting for furniture and finishing touches,” she said.

Coastal Living2

Toney and her team spent a year on the project, turning the space into a showpiece of Lowcountry comfort and elegance using carefully selected colors, furniture and fabric accents that played up its livability and cool coastal aesthetics.

She had only two goals to meet for the home’s owners, who lived in northern Georgia. They wanted a family-friendly getaway ocean home to enjoy with their loved ones, and they wanted to make the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home a prime rental.

It has an eclectic and classic feel that I think is very timeless. 


“I so enjoyed working with Jay and Shawn Eckard on their beach home,” said Toney, who has been a designer with J. Banks for 16 years. “The process included being mindful of renters, while designing a fun beach getaway for my clients to share with friends and family — and four-legged family as well.”

It’s not easy to create a space that feels personal, like home, but that’s also impersonal enough that strangers can make themselves comfortable. But Toney and her team nailed it.

“I think it was a lovely project, because I think the clients had a unique perspective on how they wanted it to feel like theirs and feel like home, but they also wanted it to feel coastal and attractable to renters,” she said. “It has an eclectic and classic feel that I think is very timeless. We tried to have a coastal feel and give a nod to the marshes and ocean.”

Coastal Living5She started with the colors.

“For the color palette to set the tone for a coastal feel, we used blues and greens,” she said. “Small stripes and different patterns, which give a lot of interest and texture. We varied the materials and patterns to give a lot of richness, and then we pulled in some antique pieces.” 

The antiques made the house feel like a home: “They didn’t want it to look all brand new,” Toney said of the Eckards. “They wanted to add a lot of character to it.” 

The lived-in look suited the homeowners just fine. 

Coastal Living6“We are homebodies at heart,” said Jay, who said that his family had vacationed for many years on the same street where they eventually built their new home. “The interior design is perfect for relaxed, casual living with family and friends. Each space visually invites you to gather to enjoy loved ones.” 

Toney created that welcoming, casual vibe with careful design decisions. 

“The rugs we selected have a lot of depth to them and they’re made to look like look antique classics,” she said. “We also have woven shades in several of the rooms just to give a nod to the coastal setting.” 

Antique oars on a wall in the media room from Jay’s collection are “beaten up and looked washed up,” she said, accentuating the coastal, lived-in vibe. 

Coastal Living7“I love the window treatment choices and kitchen/den area the most,” said Jay, a professional services businessman. “They were able to balance durable beach house materials with a subtle elegance.” 

Many of the accessories and accent pieces came from the J. Banks showroom collection. For major pieces, clients choose a frame that is then customized. 

“The frame is our design, and then we personalize each piece with the client,” Toney said. 

Elsewhere in the home, guests will find woven wine jugs from Europe, weathered lock-and-key art, and wooden oyster sticks imported from southern France on the back porch patio. 

“Adding those accents really give the home character,” she said. 

Coastal Living8

Indoor/outdoor furniture fabrics were chosen for their versatility and low maintenance, a plateware and flatware from the J. Banks retail collection fills the kitchen cabinets, and high-back spool chairs in the living room add a classic touch. The outdoor living space has a comfortable sitting area with a fireplace as the focal point. 

“Hannah and J. Banks were fantastic,” Jay said. “They provided designs and options in a very timely manner with exceptional communication through all phases of the process. I would use them again for sure.” 

It’s home, sweet home, for owners and visitors alike.