Star-Crossed Studio

Photo courtesy of oak 36 Bar + Kitchen

How Holmes + Salter became Savannah’s restaurant design darlings

Photography by JEREMIAH HULL

THE HOLMES + SALTER INTERIORS STORY is nothing if not kismet. “When we met in 2010 in our 2-year-olds’ preschool class, we were both about to go out on our own,” says Victoria Holmes, who co-owns the design firm with Lana Salter. “We said, ‘Wait a minute. Why don’t we do this together?’ It’s been a parallel path ever since.”

Victoria Holmes and Lana Salter // photography courtesy of HOLMES + SALTER

The providential parallels extend beyond the business: their children are the same ages, their husbands are close friends and the duo live just one street apart, enabling them to share a home office and, in between client meetings and site visits, carpool duties.

“It’s been easy,” Holmes says of the work-and-play partnership. “Somehow, we don’t get sick of each other!”

And then along came COVID — the great workplace upset. While many found themselves directionless, Holmes and Salter decided in unison that after a decade of residential projects, the firm was ripe for a pivot and, as fate would have it, their clients were, too.

“We had clients with backgrounds in PR and finance whose home we had done years earlier call two days after the world shut down saying, ‘You’re going to think we’re crazy, but we just bought a restaurant and want to know if you can help us with it,’” Holmes recalls. The pair heartily assented.

That crazy idea eventually became Oak 36 Bar + Kitchen, a new dining staple in the Twelve Oaks shopping center. With its handsome mix of earthy green and brown leathers, black tin ceilings and aged brass light fixtures, the restaurant quickly attracted attention for its casually sophisticated vibe and fresh, Southern-inspired menu.

Vic’s River Grille, the new sister restaurant to the River Street staple // photography by JEREMIAH HULL

Word spread, and just a few months later, Jennifer and Brian Huskey, owners of The Gaslight Group, brought the designers on board to direct the renovation of their newest restaurant venture, The 5 Spot Sandfly, which opened in October 2021.


“We got to put our own spin on each space … As far as the vibe goes, [the owners] left it up to us.” — Victoria Holmes


Completing their restaurant trifecta was Vic’s River Grille, sister restaurant to Bay Street staple, Vic’s on the River.

“That felt really unique,” Holmes says of the opportunity to redesign the former mill on historic River Street. “The direction was to honor the [building’s] history and bring it into the 21st century.” With its delicate black and white tiling, marble-topped tables and carved wooden bar, the restaurant is a welcome respite from the sights and sounds of the bustling street outside.

The 5 Spot Sandfly // photography by JEREMIAH HULL
Natural wood decor lends an appropriately coastal-casual vibe to The 5 Spot Sandfly // photography by JEREMIAH HULL

“We got to put our own spin on each space,” Salter says of the distinct atmospheres Holmes + Salter created. “The owners are there to run a business, so they have a clear idea of function, but as far as the vibe goes, they left it up to us.”

“Everyone we’ve worked with in the restaurant industry has been easy going and very trusting,” seconds Holmes, noting that the mix of design autonomy and client trust has won the duo over to commercial design. “It’s been great, and we would love to keep doing restaurant projects and, at this point, boutique hotels. We’ll put that into the universe and see if it comes our way,” Holmes says. Did you hear that, Lady Luck? 

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