An Innate Sense of Interior Design
Gail and Ken Mize's home in Timberlake
The family room features a beautiful stacked stone fireplace.
Photography by Robert Clark
Gail Mize credits her mother for any of her decorating abilities. “My mother has always had a good eye for colors and decorating and passed that long to me” she says. When Gail and Ken, her husband, purchased a point lot on Lake Murray in the Timberlake Resort community 10 years ago, that innate sense of style came in handy. She worked with the architect to create an expansive Mediterranean-style home design that not only takes advantage of dramatic views but that also provided a palette for her decorating ideas.
Without any interior design assistance, Gail has painstakingly adorned her two-story dream home in a style that she says is based purely on what feels right. Her task was not an easy one. The home has four bedrooms, with additional rooms used as a study, exercise area and home theater. There are five full baths and two half baths as well.
“I feel that I don’t have one particular style,” says Gail, “but I lean more towards eclectic.” Her bent for warm, neutral tones and anything tropical, including palms and animal prints, is clearly evident.
“Thank goodness animal prints have stayed in style because I really like them,” she says. “I try not to be overwhelming with them, but they are in most rooms.”
The Mizes’ mostly cream and camel color scheme lends itself well to animal print fabrics, 19th century British Colonial India prints, and motifs of elephants, lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras and other animals. Her signature decorative adornment, the palm tree, can be spotted in practically every room. Subdued jewel tones in fabrics, wallpapers and accessories throughout the home give the rooms color and warmth.
Room for Mom
The Mizes built their home on Lake Murray with Gail’s mother in mind. She lives part of the year in her home in North Carolina and spends a great deal of time with her daughter. Thus, the couple wanted to make sure she had ample space – on the first floor – for her bedroom and bathroom. She also has her own entrance from her own garage, and her room is adjacent to the family room, kitchen and sunroom.
“We wanted to make sure she had privacy, but still felt a part of the home,” says Gail.
Since Gail gleaned her sense of style from her mother, decorating her mother’s room to suit her was no problem. Since she is a “wallpaper person,” Gail picked out a striped black and tan grass cloth textured look for her mother’s bathroom.
An elephant print pillow adorns the bed, while framed faux primitive Hawaiian weapons in shadow boxes decorate her mother’s bathroom.Just inside the hardwood entryway, with its sweeping staircase and impressive chandelier, is a travertine living room with an Alaskan sheepskin rug as its centerpiece. The plush rug, underneath a coffee table, adds depth and texture to the formal room.
The foyer features a rounded wall on the other side of the staircase.
Over the entryway to the dining room is a massive tapestry that features a tropical scene. The rounded wall on the other side of the staircase and across from the master suite sports a complementary tapestry. Gail found these in Atlanta at Tapestries Plus.
The dining room features the Mizes’ mostly cream and camel color scheme as well as Gail’s signature palm trees.
“That rounded wall is my favorite wall,” she says. “The tapestry works there because no picture or painting would conform to the wall.” The tapestry hangs on a special curved rod.
Prints of palm trees are displayed over the master bed. Gail had them framed to look like they are floating in the glass so that the wall behind shows through. Since she admittedly is a huge fan of wallpaper, she incorporated this framing technique to show off the wallpaper as a “frame” for prints in other areas of the house.
Prints of palm trees displayed over the master bed are framed to look like they are floating in the glass so that the wallpaper behind shows through.
One of those pieces of art, an original by local artist Glenna Rowland, hangs in the study; it is of a cemetery that was uncovered near the Mizes’ home when Lake Murray was drained. Gail says she was so fascinated by the fact that the cemetery could be seen from their house that she had it painted.
Gail’s “palm bathroom” just off the study features wallpaper with a palm tree print. Over the kitchen sink, set in a tumbled marble backsplash, is a brass palm tree as an accent. In most rooms, there are also tropical permanent botanical arrangements to dress up the setting.
The sunroom, tucked behind the stacked stone fireplace in the family room, is accessible through a glass door that leads to an intimate windowed hallway. This space is also decorated in a palm theme, with a palm tree rug under a coffee table that draws the eye. A doorway from the sunroom leads to the lanai, which is made primarily of limestone and has room for two round outdoor dining tables as well as a grilling area.
Upstairs is a game area with pool table, bar, game table and sitting area in front of a stacked stone fireplace. A carved, wooden elephant chair that the couple purchased in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is this room’s head-turner. An adjacent workout room includes exercise equipment, mounted fish, golf balls signifying courses that Ken has played on, as well as photos of pros he’s played with, and prints of Augusta National.
Upstairs is a game area with pool table, bar, game table and comfortable seating.
None of the rooms in the Mizes’ home are average squares or rectangles. Curves, arches, floor-to-ceiling windows, double doors and angled walls create distinct spaces. Several rooms feature trey ceilings that are painted with slightly contrasting neutral hues to add interest and dimension. Primarily, the design of the home takes full advantage of the lake view, enabling the Mizes and their guests to enjoy the beauty of the lake from indoors or out.
Paint to Match
Gail Mize says that when a decorative item doesn’t match her style and/or color scheme, she just paints it.
“My husband says there’s nothing I won’t paint. If I see potential in it, but it’s not exactly right, I know I can paint it to make it work.”
Lamps, picture frames, overhead lighting fixtures, mirror frames and other accessories have been carefully painted to reflect the color tones, textures and patterns of other items in a room. For example, in one of the upstairs guest’s rooms, Gail painted the individual swag holders for the window treatments to match the room’s bedside lamps.
“If I can not find the right thing, I paint something that will fit. I have even applied a layer of tissue paper or napkins on books and painted them to give them an older appearance. Then I use them to decorate and coordinate.”