Behind the Scenes: 2017 HGTV Dream Home on St. Simons Island

Image courtesy of Brian Patrick Flynn.

The 2017 HGTV Dream Home is located right here in Georgia on St. Simons Island and it promises to be a beauty.

The waterfront property, surrounded by Spanish Moss and palm trees, is 3,200 square feet and features three-bedrooms and three-bathrooms renovated from a nineties-era aesthetic to home designed for casual living with southern style .

We caught up with Brian Patrick Flynn, president and founder of FlynnsideOut Productions, an Atlanta and Los Angeles based production company that specializes in lifestyle-related content, who serves as designer for the Dream House.

Flynn began as a television producer who in 2010 started producing original interiors content for HGTV.com and diynetwork.com. He then worked as a producer for the HGTV reality-competition series Design Star. After designing, producing and styling three digital shows for HGTV.com, in 2015 Flynn was appointed to the position of designer for HGTV’s two home giveaways HGTV Urban Oasis and HGTV Dream Home. 

The job requires him to work with the network and partnering brands to design the house, as well as working on all the creative design with the architects and project managers on each project

His new role has left him with limited time for personal projects.

“I only take on one or two private interior design clients per year since about 10 months are taken up with these five houses I design inside and out for Scripps Networks Interactive,” said Flynn. But he said the job is the fulfillment of a longtime dream.

“This is the exact dream job I wanted back when I was in college when I’d tell my peers and professors that my dream position would be production designer or set decorator on a series with an unforgettable interior like my generation saw growing up and watching The Real World on MTV, except I wanted mine to feel a little bit more like true lived-in homes and not just eye-catching sets,” he said.

Here Flynn shares some behind-the-scenes insights into the new HGTV Design Home and what viewers can expect when it is all done:

Q: Is it hard to design a home for clients you haven’t met and know nothing about?

A: I never know who is going to win the house because of the millions of entries being from all walks of life, and therefore I design the house to cater to design lovers of all styles: traditional, mid-century modern, coastal, transitional, neutral and understated, European, eclectic, bohemian, casual, formal, relaxed, light, colorful, rustic, dark and moody, and also classic/timeless.

It’s not an easy task because I’ve got to check my own personal aesthetic at the door and instead create a cohesive home that takes its cues from its architecture while also offering something fresh and unique that is thought provoking yet also totally livable.

Q: So how do you put your personal touch on the design?

A: With the HGTV Dream Home I inject my own signature aesthetic into the houses with small touches. I’m an avid traveller and love massive, wide open untouched spaces. I’ve done that this year with some custom landscape art pieces made by Southern artist Celery Jones as well as framed photography of places that truly inspire me such as a frozen mountain in Greenland which is the main art piece for the guest bedroom.

I also love to stick with unique color schemes that put a fresh spin on classic or seldom-used colors, and this time I pulled those hues from the surrounding marshlands: forest green, bark-toned brown-gray, muddy dark brown, deep teal, tranquil blue-grays and mossy greens. I also try to avoid using sets of furniture whenever possible, so pretty much everything in the house is an assortment of disparate pieces unified with the proper use of scale and proportion. In fact, the terrace level bedroom is so eclectic, there’s really not even one piece of furniture in the room that is from the same genre as the next, but it all totally works.

Q: Will we see any Atlanta influences on the design of the 2017 Dream Home?

A: Although the house is four and a half hours away from Atlanta on St. Simons Island, I did some of my sourcing here through Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC). The kitchen backsplash tile was custom-made using the same tone of pine green seen outside the house in the live oaks, and the kitchen cabinet and drawer hardware was also sourced through my friends Ryan Hughes and Steven Leonard’s amazing showroom R.Hughes which has a custom hardware department — the pulls and knobs are made of bronze and they’re upholstered and stitched with forest green leather.

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Q: How will the house reflect Southern Style?

A: When the network decided on St. Simons Island and I saw the house in its initial state, I immediately knew the direction I wanted to go in and that is southern transitional. The house isn’t formal enough for the overall stately southern styles you see on Tuxedo Road or West Paces Ferry but its interiors definitely have the square footage for adding the amazing architectural details you would find in classic high-end southern houses.

The house is meant for casual living, but there were a few opportunities to formalize things just a bit. As far as southern architecture goes, I brought pecky cypress in on the ceilings in the great room and also in the formal dining room.

I keep the exterior of the house super-duper classic by keeping its shakes white and painting its trim and shutters black, then adding dramatic eight-foot tall wood doors in a dark stain. A lot of the furniture in the main spaces is a mash-up of classic European styles and also relaxed, slipcovered coastal. And then as an ode to the rural south where I spend much of my time at my mountain house in Ellijay, I brought in nods to farmhouse style. The colors, for the most part, are neutral and earth-toned.

Q: What are some of the surprises in the design of this home?

A: One of the most fascinating things about designing this house is that all of the furnishings from the sofas and rugs to the light fixtures, accessories and window coverings were all sourced online through wayfair.com. For the past five years I have actually made the transition myself to fully embrace all things digital for the sake of being efficient with my design process, and nowadays I do a ton of custom that I design locally, but for budget and also timeline reasons I’m shopping for a lot of things online as well.

The big difference with HGTV Dream Home is that I truly will not have actually touched any of the upholstered goods, window coverings or floor coverings until the day they arrive, and knowing that colors read differently on a computer monitor, I often keep my palettes a little bit looser so I can layer different shades of similar colors rather than being committed to one particular hue that could be way different in reality than online.

Q: Will this house be family friendly?

A: It’s important for me to have spaces that are extremely family friendly and the one that nails this the most is the pool lounge which is wrapped in a vinyl wall covering that looks like sky blue grasscloth but is actually totally wipeable. The nautical stripe area rug in the space is indoor-outdoor and can be washed off with a hose. A pair of arm chairs are upholstered in vinyl and area super easy to clean, plus the rolled arm sofa is actually a massive cost saver from wayfair.com with a price point that even a recent college graduate can swallow. The mix of art in the pool lounge also skews on the younger side, making this an awesome place for all family members and friends to enjoy.

Q: How long does it take to finish this kind of project?

A: From the time to house is selected until the very last floral arrangement is placed into a vessel for the editorial photography, it is roughly a seven month process with three to four check-ins during the construction phase.

Many times I change the design direction as the house starts to shape up and I can get a better feel for the flow of new floor plans and also see how new light hits spaces once new windows and doors are installed, but one of the most key things logistically is for me to choose furnishings that can float around between different rooms in the event things materialize differently in reality than on paper.

I keep the entire color scheme of the house consistent but somewhat loose in the event that a pair of chairs meant for the pool lounge actually look ten times more memorable in the dressing room, or perhaps the more understated bed I chose for the guest bedroom actually elevates the terrace suite to a different level.

In real life my clients like to keep their staple pieces and figure out how to use them differently as their lives evolve, and that is exactly how I design the HGTV Dream Homes, to be able to evolve and change for whoever wins the home.

Enter to win the HGTV 2017 Dream home on St. Simons Island beginning Dec. 28. at HGTV.com. Sign up now for the sweepstakes newsletter to get a reminder to enter.

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