A breezy beach enclave on the Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington, North Carolina is home to a coastal community of artists and intellectuals. Southeast of Downtown Wilmington, alongside the scenic Masonboro Sound, lies the Helms Port community, a picturesque development designed to inspire a relaxed waterfront lifestyle. Just a stone’s throw from the community’s private marina, the Helms Port Clubhouse welcomes residents and guests with sprawling decks, a glittering swimming pool, and relaxed indoor lounge.
When Julie Glew of Wilmington’s Custom Home Staging & Design began to design the clubhouse interior, she knew the high-profile space would “set the tone” for the entire Helms Port community, a Logan Homes development. Rising to the challenge, Julie created an open-concept space where visitors can move “seamlessly” between the outdoor and indoor areas. From anywhere in the clubhouse, one can enjoy ocean views and “fresh salty breeze” circulating through the air.
We recently sat down with Julie to discuss resort-inspired style, multifunctional furniture, and designer tips for creating the ideal “sea-to-sofa” lifestyle.
Summer Classics: Please tell us a little bit about the Helms Port Clubhouse project!
Julie Glew: The Helms Port Clubhouse is the hub of a resort style community in Wilmington, North Carolina. Helms Port is a waterfront community featuring views of the Intracoastal Waterway, a marina, kayak launch, a resort style pool, and clubhouse. The clubhouse was the first part of the community developed by Logan Homes, and this space set the tone for the entire neighborhood. The design objective was to provide furnishings and decor for a space that not only represents coastal North Carolina living, but also complements the outdoor lifestyle the community offers. It’s a space where families can move seamlessly from the marina and pool deck into an indoor lounge with open-air doors that allow fresh salty breeze to flow in. We had to provide durable furnishings that did not compromise the look of the design, and which fit the scale of a larger space.
SC: What is the primary function of the Helms Port Clubhouse?
JG: This multifunctional space was created to accommodate large volumes of visitors, when needed. Logan Homes designed a community space that features a commercial kitchen, raised bar, and TV lounge, as well as indoor and outdoor dining. For the furniture, the goals were to provide a large seating area focused around two big-screen televisions, offer seating for various conversation groups, and also provide a large dining area with bar seating. This gorgeous facility hosts many year round functions, so the furniture can easily be arranged to accommodate any event. We also tucked away additional dining seating on the outdoor mezzanine, and extra lounge chairs in intimate corners with water views—perfect for reading a good book.
SC: What is your favorite design feature in the Helms Port Clubhouse?
JG: My favorite design feature in the Helms Port Clubhouse is the wall behind the serving bar area. This wall is covered in a gorgeous driftwood-look tile, selected by the builder’s designer, which made this area a huge feature space. We were able to bring in a local metalworking company that specializes in coastal custom metal sculptures. They produced schools of fish out of stainless steel and copper that gave this wall so much movement and created a major focal point in the space.
SC: Did you encounter any design challenges during this project?
JG: One challenge in this space was creating a durable commercial environment that captures a welcoming, residential feel, but can also withstand the coastal elements. We wanted comfort, durability, and style all wrapped into one space. We were able to accomplish this with Summer Classics Teak collections and Sunbrella fabrics. Selecting products with cushions and materials that can withstand heavy use and the salty, humid environment was key.
SC: Which Summer Classics pieces did you select for this space? How did they enhance your vision for the space?
JG: We used the Club Teak modular pieces, accent tables, cocktail tables, and dining tables, plus Croquet Teak dining chairs and barstools, all in the Weathered Teak (#15) finish. The finish looks like it was made for this clubhouse, so that was a no-brainer! The most specific selection I made was using the Teak Modular Sectional pieces. This helped me create a large lounge area featuring two sectionals, but also offered the ability to rearrange the seating group to accommodate other uses. Guests can rearrange these pieces easily and create multiple seating destinations with little effort. We also placed the Club Teak Lounge Chair and Club Teak End Table in small seating groups for a more private experience.
SC: Summer Classics focuses on creating “life’s best moments”. How do you anticipate visitors will enjoy these special moments in the clubhouse?
JG: I hope visitors are able to enjoy a multitude of special moments within this clubhouse. I also see the list of those moments ranging from the smallest daily reminders to milestone celebrations. We still work very closely in the community, so it is very rewarding to watch the space being used. I have been able to see guests “working from home” in this space at a dining table in peaceful solidarity, and experience our Custom Home Team packing the entire space to celebrate the holidays. The clubhouse offers families the opportunity to spend a lot of time together, with lots of flexibly in how they wish to utilize the space and the furnishings.
SC: What are your top three tips for designing a commercial space?
JG: Designing a commercial space is very involved. There are more moving pieces than a smaller residential home, and there are many more people and needs that you need to accommodate. 1. Get to know your client and understand their vision and goals clearly. Understand the use of the space, and the volume of people that it will accommodate. 2. Learn about the environment that surrounds the space. For example, Helms Port Clubhouse is waterfront, adjoined to the community pool, and has large doors that can be left open to enjoy the ocean breeze. This meant we needed to provide furnishings that would withstand the elements involved. Salt, humidity and wind were all factors in selecting durable and heavy outdoor pieces. 3. Put one piece you absolutely LOVE in the space to leave your mark. This piece for me was a locally sourced driftwood piece with metal sculpted fish we tucked into a far corner of the clubhouse. It was a way to reiterate the metalworking we did on the feature wall, and also provided a piece of three-dimensional art for guest to enjoy. All locally made, too!
SC: We believe Summer Classics furniture is an investment in quality and style. Why do you turn to the Summer Classics brand?
JG: Logan Homes asked us to bring them a product and design that was thoughtful, high quality, and most importantly, could support the sea-to-sofa lifestyle they were looking to create. This space needed to offer the neighborhood a waterfront lifestyle 365 days a year, and always feel fresh and inviting. Summer Classics Teak gave us solid quality, and the Weathered Teak (#15) finish provided a pre-worn, dimensional texture which translates to low-maintenance—perfect for this environment. The stain-resistant Sunbrella fabric selections were easy to keep light & airy. It was a comfortable decision to choose Summer Classics because we knew we were selecting products made with quality materials from a company that stands by the performance of their pieces.