Architectural Digest: John Mellencamp's South Carolina's Island Getaway
02.08.2014 - By Julia Reed - Photography by William Abranowicz
Architectural Digest At Home With John Mellencamp "For The Children"
John recently afforded Architectural Digest readers an opportunity to see the interior design of his Daufuskie Island retreat. Pick up a copy of the March issue, on newsstands now, or download the digital edition to see more photos and to read the complete story.
The house's architecture was inspired by the look of a church that John had photographed some years back and the interior includes elements that recall that original inspiration along with many touches that are reflective of John's interests in art and film. Step inside to view some of the photos in the magazine of John's airy South Carolina getaway on architecuraldisgest.com
Photo By William Abranowicz
Some 30 years ago John Mellencamp discovered Daufuskie
Island, a relatively unspoiled spot in South Carolina, just across the border
from Savannah, Georgia. Fascinated by the island's history (until the 1980s it
had been inhabited largely by the Gullah, descendants of freed slaves) and
enamored of its privacy (it can only be reached by boat), the singer-songwriter
purchased several acres on the Atlantic Ocean. But the land sat empty for more
than a decade. "I had every intention of building a house—I just never got
around to it," says Mellencamp, who is also an accomplished painter,
occasional actor, Farm Aid cofounder, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. (The
recently released box set John Mellencamp 1978–2012 features 19 of his studio
albums, including 30 Billboard Hot 100 singles.) Then one day he snapped a
photograph of a church in Myrtle Beach, and the structure's shape inspired him
to finally hire an architect.
The finished residence—the work of Neil Gordon, whose office
is on neighboring Hilton Head Island—bears ample evidence of that church's
influence, with pointed-arch windows and doors and a navelike central living
hall that is ringed by a gallery reminiscent of a choir loft. Mellencamp filled
the rooms with odds and ends from storage, but the home, like the property
before it, "just kind of sat fallow," he says. It's not that he
didn't love the area. Two of his five children grew up nearby, and he has lived
part-time in the region for more than half of his life. But this particular
house never felt right. Mellencamp's girlfriend, actress Meg Ryan, however,
thought the place had promise, and asked last year, "Why don't you make it
as beautiful as it can be?" Energized by her enthusiasm, he called New
York City interior designer Monique Gibson, with whom he'd collaborated on
three previous dwellings, including his Indiana home base.
The decorator headed to Daufuskie "to let the house
tell me what it needed," she says. "I'd walk around on the phone and
tell John, 'This kitchen makes no sense' or 'These doors are too small.'"
Thus, the kitchen was redone, the doors were enlarged, and the woodwork was
stained to give it depth. Gibson played off the peaked windows by incorporating
their shape into the metal base of the 27-foot-long table that bisects the
living hall. On one side of that space is a library rich with art books; on the
other is a movie room, where classic films are a regular after-dinner feature.
Mellencamp is notably partial to movies with screenplays by Tennessee
Williams—he can recite whole stretches of dialogue from Baby Doll, and a prized
possession is a poster of The Fugitive Kind, a gift from his friend Joanne
Woodward, who starred in it. Back