A Moveable Feast

When their kitchen wasn’t cutting it, a family in The Landings started from scratch

For years, homeowner Lisa Pinyan kept a list of things that most frustrated her about her home in The Landings. That list largely centered on one thing and one particular holiday: the kitchen, during Easter.

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

“We had a lot of really close friends, and at the time none of our family lived here,” Pinyan says; now, both her parents and her husband’s parents are based in Savannah. During winter holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas — the Pinyans would visit family members in faraway states. At Easter, though, the Pinyan home became the de facto spot, hosting about eight families for a total of 40 people. 

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

“We had a perfect yard for Easter egg hunts and plenty of room for people to run and play, but the kitchen was so small that we struggled to prepare food,” Pinyan says. “My husband felt it didn’t make sense to renovate the house because everything else about it was perfect.” So perfect, they stayed for about ten years. Unfortunately, so did the kitchen.

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

“I thought, well, maybe we should just try to find a piece of property,” she says, “So we drove around The Landings to see what was even available.” On a whim, her husband called to inquire about a property that had just gone off the market — a plot of land with languid oak trees, a pond and even a tire swing. The owners were willing to sell, and the Pinyans went for it, buoyed with visions of a more effortless Easter.

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Together, the family mapped out every last detail of their transition from old home to new build. They planned to list their home that summer, aiming for a fall closing, a few months in a rental and a move into their new place the following spring. What in theory sounded seamless, in practice was far from it. Almost immediately, someone put an offer on their home, with a five-week closing to boot. “They looked at noon, and we had an offer by 3 p.m., before it was even technically on the market,” Pinyan says. The Pinyans secured a large rental in the same neighborhood (so as not to interrupt their teenage son’s summer plans or school zoning), but the build took much longer than they anticipated. 

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

While their own professional backgrounds — Pinyan is an interior designer, and her husband is a contractor — certainly gave them an edge on more novice homebuilders, their expertise also caused a slowdown, Pinyan says. Take the pool, for example, which she wanted built at higher elevation for easier access from the house. 

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

“I should’ve said, ‘How much time will this add?’ but instead I asked, ‘Can this be done?’” she says. Apply that to the home’s 6,200 square feet, and, well, time just racked up. After 12 months for the design, plus 16 months for the build, they finally moved in last July. Pinyan says the extra time allowed them to treat it more like a commercial project than a residential one. For the exterior, they used heavy-duty materials like CMU (concrete masonry units) and steel. Herringbone brick leads to stone stairs ending at the oversized front door, flanked by stately Doric columns. It’s a house built to withstand hurricanes, Pinyan says. From an interior design perspective, it can also withstand trends.

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

Throughout, the walls are a light gray, with a deeper French gray in the first-floor master suite. Still, visual drama abounds in every corner. Note the rich, charcoal hue in the study, the intricate rugs throughout and the flat-out glamorous wallpaper in the powder room: a snakeskin metallic print rendered in green, blue, cream and gold. Their teenage son has freedom to retreat indoors — during our interview, he was exercising in the home gym — or out, on the patio complete with that raised pool, a sectional sofa and even a television (more on that later).

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

There’s an original Eames chair in the family room, one Pinyan’s in-laws almost threw out due to cracked leather, but she happily restored. An elevator and upstairs guest bathroom with a zero-entry shower are cues they plan to stay awhile. Downstairs, the large bathroom and changing space near the patio are a boon for impromptu pool parties. A butler’s pantry with soapstone countertops and a swinging door into the dining room allow for a spectacular presentation of next year’s Easter roast.

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

“Part of the reason [designing and building the home] took so long is that I overthought everything,” Pinyan says. “I didn’t want someone to walk in in 20 years and feel like they’re in a dated space. I wanted something durable and timeless.”

The home’s layout nods to the marriage of function and design. A central atrium peels off into wings, delineated by white brick walls that mimic the feel of an addition adjoined to old exteriors. To the left, family spaces like a rec room and the kitchen; to the right, a first-floor master suite with a marble-studded bathroom and an enviably spacious walk-in closet. A stately living room in a neutral color palette fosters conversation thanks both to what it has — two crisply upholstered couches facing one another, sumptuous velvet armchairs, an eye-catching Sputnik chandelier, a welcoming fireplace — and what it doesn’t.

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

“There’s no TV over the fireplace,” Pinyan points out. “I just didn’t want one in here, so my concession was putting it out by the pool.”

Even without a television, the effect isn’t formal. It’s friendly (and kid-friendly). When the Pinyans host, it tends to be more intimate gatherings like baby showers or casual dinner parties. Pinyan reckons she brings out her fine china once a year. “We have a house that will really stand the test of time, where people can come and just relax,” she says, noting her choice of tenacious materials both inside and out. “If we ever move, it will be because we really want to, and not because we have to.”

In the kitchen, it perhaps goes without saying, there’s significant space to gather. Friends and family can linger at the vast Carrara marble island, sitting on cushioned bar stools beneath milk-glass pendant lighting. They can sip coffee at the breakfast table, with a wall-to-wall view of the backyard, or stand on the bohemian rug next to the high-end range — honorary sous chefs in search of good conversation as much as a meal. The kitchen is the heart of every home, but for this one, it’s the raison d’être. 

Home

Owners: Danny and Lisa Pinyan

Year built: 2018

Square footage: 6,250

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 half bathrooms

Time to complete: 16 months construction and 12 months design 

Resources

Architects/planners: Rick Wissmach, Wissmach’s Architects PC

Interior designer: Lisa Pinyan, IIDA, ASID

Contractor/builder:  Pinyan Company 

Tile/flooring: Jessica Cheek and Jennifer Simon, Savannah Surfaces

Paint/wallpaper: Maude Hinely, Lowcountry Wallcoverings and Design

Windows/doors: Doors, Danny Shealy; Windows, Chris at Homesouth Architectural 

Door Hardware: Kevin McCarthy, McCarthy Inc. 

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