Small Wonder

Kentucky woman turns tiny treehouse-style home into sophisticated space

So what does a woman who was a born and raised in Kentucky and who’s been modeling internationally since she was 16 do when she wants a getaway beach home on Hilton Head Island? She buys a one-bedroom, 520-square-foot octagonal-shaped treehouse-style home built in 1976 in Sea Pines, naturally.

And then she hires Sharon Cleland at J. Banks Design Group to turn an interior mess into a “little jewel that turned out like a dream,” said Kelly Movshina, who moved from France to Aiken, where she now lives with her pilot husband and young daughter.

“It reminded me of a little place I stayed at in Thailand for a month,” she added of the home, which she bought in June. “The windows were amazing and I saw the possibilities.”

Small Wonder2

So did Cleland. Thank goodness.

“The interior was awful,” Movshina said. “And I was thinking how can I make this place great? But I had no idea. She is like sunshine, a ball of sunshine.”

Cleland’s native Irish eyes were clearly smiling because she saw and relished the challenge of transforming a small space into a “casual, coastal, sophisticated space with an organic comfortable feel.”

“I was excited, actually, because it was so unusual and quirky,” said Cleland, who has been an interior designer at J. Banks for six years. “I think it challenged me more because of the scale required, more thought and careful planning to utilize every square inch.”

Everything, from roof to floor and in between, was either removed and replaced or redone during the six-month renovation.

“It was all new selections,” Cleland said. “It’s a nice casual look, casual comfort. It’s a home of fresh air.”

Six steps outside lead up to the kitchen and the one door in the cathedral-ceiling condo.

One of the first design touches Cleland applied in the condo was installing a beefy wall-to-wall sisal rug on top of the linoleum flooring in the living room and positioning a sisal area rug over a portion of ceramic driftwood plank look-alike tiles in the kitchen. Trims were refinished, the textured wooden wall panels were given a fresh, updated coat of paint, and coarse textured grasscloth drapes portion off the walls in the living, dining and kitchen area.

“She saw driftwood and texture and organic neutral tones,” Movshina said of Cleland’s inspiration for the design.

Natural linen side panels were layered over textured white wooden shades on windows, and an artisan-crafted tiered oyster shell fixture hangs over the dining table, Cleland said. An organic driftwood finish on the media console flirts with simple clean lines and streamlined accessories.

On the shelf over the kitchen area, over-sized woven baskets are mixed with galvanized-patina olive buckets for dramatic effect. Kitchen finishes were redone with Corian. Contemporary artwork and wall sconces adorn the wall above the couch that opens up as a sofa bed.

In the bedroom, a sealed pebble floor was installed in the master shower, and the natural bed linens and durable fabrics on the furniture stand up to the beach lifestyle of the family.

 “It’s all about beach living,” Cleland said.

A hair-on-hide textured bench, an organic grainy wood finish on the dresser and a circular mirror playing off the angles complete the bedroom ensemble.

 “I have traveled everywhere, and seriously, these beaches are the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, really,” Movshina said. “When I sit out on the deck and hear the ocean, it’s amazing. I couldn’t be happier. I just love the whole feel of Hilton Head. It’s just gorgeous.”


Master bedroom dresser: Renwil
Master bedroom round wall mirror: Avant Garde
Living room wall covering: Palecek
Living room wall lights: CASA Fiore
Tile: Home Depot
Living room chair: Pier 1
Wooden shades: Budget Blinds