Monday, April 12, 2010

Paula Deen's Beach House, Writing a Record and Mess Hall Magic


After a scheduling mix-up last Monday, we wound up crashing at Paula Deen's place the last night of our trip...


Paula rents the house out through Mermaid Cottages whenever she's not using it, and since no one else had rented it that day, we were able to squeeze in last minute.


While "Real Life Paula" may not have been there during our stay, "Life-Sized Cardboard Paula" was there to keep us on our toes...

I can't tell you how many times I came around the corner and jumped because I forgot about "her"!

(Kevin's Mom and Paula, sporting similar colors)

If I wasn't so exhausted by the time we stayed at her place, I probably could have had a lot of fun with "her".
How hilarious would it have been to set "her" in front of a window for passers-by to trip out on?


The kitchen was small, but pretty, and it had everything a cook would need to get the job done...





Check out the faux finish she used on the maple cabinetry...


Wanna paint your kitchen cabinets, but don't wanna paint the inside of your cabinet doors?
Leave 'em!
The inside of Paula's are still the original maple finish and they looked just fine...


We came home with a whole bunch of Paula Deen spices, snacks and sauces (all of her guests get them, along with an autographed cookbook).
We still have yet to try any of them (Hi. My name's Layla and I have an aversion to cooking.), but the peanut butter barbeque sauce does sound intriguing.

And since we didn't cook in Paula's kitchen while we were there (how messed up is that?), we also didn't use her dining room...


Her living room was super comfy to hang out in though...


If I wasn't already hitched, I would've married that incredible, old wooden lamp in the corner.
Hubba, hubba.
(There's metal around the top of the base- it was incredible. I should've snapped a closer pic of it!)

We slept upstairs, in Paula's guest bedroom...


It's really hard for me to sleep soundly in hotels, but staying in someone's home is never a problem.
I slept like a baby in that scrumpdillyious bed.

Kevin's parents slept in Paula's room...


Pretty, eh?

Both bedrooms have balconies off of them.
There's nothing like a balcony off a bedroom to bring out your inner Rapunzel and make you feel like a Princess!
I spent some time skimming through one of Paula's cookbooks out there...


Her Baked Garlic Grits recipe almost made me want to cook...


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cup regular grits
8 ounces grated, sharp white cheddar cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
16 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 4-quart casserole dish.
Bring the broth, salt, pepper, & garlic powder to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.
Stir in the grits & whisk until completely mixed.
Reduce the heat to low & let simmer until the grits are thick. (About 8 to 10 minutes.)
Add the cubed cheddar & milk and stir.
Gradually stir in the the eggs & butter, stirring until all are mixed.
Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
Sprinkle top with the white cheddar & bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until set.

...but I think I'll stick to eating, and leave the cooking to the professionals.

Paula's house is three stories high, and to get from floor to floor, you can travel by stairs, or by elevator...


Can you imagine having an elevator in your house?

Although semi-terrifying, there was something super cool about going from Floor 1 to Floor 3 without having to burn one single calorie.

(Note: I'm buying a pair of running shoes today, and hopefully by this time next year, I'll be more fond of burning calories than storing them.)

Big thanks to Diane from
Mermaid Cottages for squeezin' us in to Paula's place last minute- and to Paula and her family for sharing their home with all of us!

If you're interested in visiting "Y'all Come Inn", you can find rental information


In music news, Kevin's band finally decided which label they're gonna sign with, so he's in full-on writing mode right now.
And while he'd love to escape to a remote location to write his music and lyrics, he's set up a little work station here at the house instead.
Like the rest of our completely un-renovated, un-decorated master bedroom, his little area is far from fancy.
Just a folding table, a piece of fabric left over from our
Nest magazine shoot, and one of our dining room chairs.

(His gold record and framed Billboard chart (he made it to #11!) serve as motivation while he writes. And before you get unnecessarily grossed out at what's in those plastic bottles, Kevin re-uses his Diet/Caffeine Free Mountain Dew bottles to put Crystal Light Fruit Punch in. He's addicted to the stuff, and often has two or three bottles going at a time!)

They say that music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life- so where he creates it isn't as important as what he's creating, right?

(That's what we keep telling ourselves anyway.)

Back in the day, he and his band spent a few years touring the world...

But after taking the past five years off, he's ready to give it another whirl.
Who knows what'll happen this time around.
He just feels blessed to be able to record another album again.

They'll start recording it in May, and the label would like to release it sometime in September.
Somewhere in between the end of the recording process, and the beginning of his first tour promoting the new record, we're turning our keys over to our trusty house-sitters, and we'll be (temporarily) moving to Tybee Island, GA.
We're going to redesign this old place from top to bottom...

It's called "Enlisted Men's Mess Hall", and it was built in the 1920's.

My new friend Diane (who owns the place) asked if I'd be interested in taking on the job. Of course I said YES, YES, YES before she could even finish asking me.

By the time we get to Tybee, it'll be all cleaned out and everything will have been freshened up with new paint. We're gonna keep the re-do as "green" as possible, so we plan to use No/Low VOC paints and lots of "previously loved" furniture and accessories throughout.
I'm also gonna be on the lookout for some great (inexpensive) Southern, and/or coastal-themed artwork to spruce up the place. (If anyone has any recommendations- please drop me a line at!)

To make things even more interesting, Kev and I are going to live in the cottage during the redesign process. And since the place will be completely empty when we get there, the first item on our shopping list will more than likely be a bed.
I say "more than likely" because A) we're not opposed to roughing it in sleeping bags on the floor for a few days, and B) If we find other must-have pieces of furniture before we find a bed, so be it.
We're just gonna have fun and let fate take the reins on this one!

Of course we're gonna do lots of bloggin' & vloggin' while we're there, so be prepared for a gazillion late night/early morning posts featuring yours truly agonizing over what color to use here, and what furniture to use there.

Oh yeah- I'm sure there will be lots more dancing and embarrassing outtakes to document while we're there too.

Have a happy, healthy, Springy week, and I hope you'll join us for the redesign adventure this Summer!

Fun Fact:

The Mess Hall sits right behind John Cougar Mellencamp's house.


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ClassiclyAmber said...

Oh, it looks so perfectly peaceful there! I'd love a stay!

And yeah - the cardboard standup would have been tucked in a closet somewhere - if it were me. I would have jumped outta my skin every time I walked in there! Love ya, Paula! But never a cardboard version...

And congrats to your hubby and his band! That is really exciting news! =-D

angela walker jewelry said...

How exciting Layla! I am so excited for you and Kevin! Lots of good news. : ) I can't wait to see what you do with the place! I am sure it will be amazing.
Congrats to you and Kevin!
Health and happiness to you both,

The Little Red Shop said...

For someone who doesn't like to certainly have a full plate!

What fun!

: )

Julie M.

Lauren1964 said...

Very cool! Can't wait to see what you do with the Tybee House! And good luck to Kevin on the song writing!


Cottage Dreamers said...

Wow! Lots goin' on for you two. First, that cut out is fun and hilarious! She's so cute!
Second, good luck to Kevin. That sounds exciting!
Third, I can.not.wait. to see what you guys do to that "mess hall." Living on the island sounds awesome!

☺ Celeste

Kim from The Sheep's Nest said...

Ah Layla I always enjoy reading your posts. You give off such positive energy. Refreshing! Thanks. Kim

Lynn Kellan said...

Holy Cow, Layla and Kevin, such exciting news! Congrats on the temporary move and the record deal!!!

Robyn said...

Oh what a fun post! I love seeing all the stuff you both have coming your way! My HUSBAND and I are very excited about Kevin's record deal! My husband is a drummer in a local band so he'll live vicariously through posts about Kevin! ;-) I can't WAIT to see what you do to that little mess hall! YAY! It's gonna be GREAT summer for LC posts!

Alicia ~ Time Worn Style said...

ok I'm dying to know what band Kevin was in that toured the world as that video on your blog wont play over here in Australia (content not available for our country). Have enjoyed reading about your escapades on the island and seeing all the lovely homes.
You should feel quite inspired to write a few songs now kevin after all that!!
Alicia :0)
pps. typepad bloggers love you guys too but openid is unkind to us and more often than not will not work. Typepad bloggers LURVE the name and URL option to fill in their correct details so you know where we come from :0))

Al said...

I LOVE that look! Awesome job!

I do have a question - what video editing software do you use to edit your videos? I love how you play with speed in your video, looks great!

duchess said...

How fun! Love the pics from Paula's place and if y'all need an assistant while staying on Tybee - I'm in SC and can be there in a flash. Just holla.
Enjoy your week.

Anonymous said...


Too bad Paula Deen's house came at the end of your vacation when you were too exhausted to thoroughly enjoy it (at least boil a pot of pasta in her kitchen) and be in Layla-mode (tease people with that life size cut-out!) Looks like a wonderful place. That floor lamp looks amazing! Congrats to Kevin and sending positive writing vibes from NJ! With you blogging about your summer project I will feel as though I am spending the season on Tybee. You better hurry and finish up TLC and put it on the market before you leave. Once you live on the ocean there is no coming back to the mainland!
Your Friend,

Marjorie said...

How exciting! We rented a cottage thru Mermaid Cottages last year with Diane's help. She is wonderful and so are the cottages. I remember seeing the Enlisted Men's Mess Hall when we were trying to find the right one for our clan. I look forward to seeing what you do with it!

Christine said...

Oh wow girl! This all sounds like so much fun!

Alison Agnew said...

How fun that you stayed in Paula's pretty house for a night! Love all the definitely has that beachy look, light and airy. Lucky girl!


Imagery by Kimberly said...

Dear Kevin,

I am SO excited and happy for you! Let the words flow - you are an amazing talent and so VERY deserving! Congratulations!!!!!

Dear Layla,

You are adorable as always and I am incredibly thrilled for you too... you go girl! Can't wait to follow you on your adventures.

Thank you for always brightening my day when I stop by. You two are the best!!!!

Love you,

Anna said...

I've really enjoyed all your house tours on Tybee island. And I just found out I have something in common with Paula Deen, I can't cook, but I have the same granite in my kitchen and I painted my cabinets and not the insides :)

Jill Swank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lettered Cottage said...

Ew! No way Jill!
He reuses his Diet/Caffeine Free Mountain Dew bottles to mix Crystal Light Fruit Punch in! :-)


My GREEN Life and Real Estate said...

Just wanted to say that I love reading your blog and over the past year you've been a part of my growing design obsession (I'm a realtor, so I'm already completely into houses...I suppose it was only natural that design would follow!) You've inspired me many times over.

I knew Kevin was a rocker, but I hadn't watched a video of his band before, and I REALLY enjoyed it. I'm going to have to check itunes now to see if I can get their music!

Looking forward to your posts on the house you'll be working on - especially from a GREEN point of view. I blog as thegreenctrealtor about environmental issues (real estate & other.)

Thanks for the great blog!


Layla, it all sounds so exciting,what a perfect place to temporarily live, I hope all of your dreams come true, Kevins band sounds amazing, I know they are going to do great, my son plays guitar and sings for the church youth group, he is 20, but he lives for music, so I just wanted to send my good luck wishes for Kevin!!

Tricia said...

It sounds like blessings are abundant for you guys right now! What exciting journeys you are beginning. Can't wait to see where they take you.


Little Lovables said...

How fun for both of you!!

Ronnie said...

Geez. Can't get much luckier than redoing a house on Tybee. Looks like Fort Scriven! My sister's house is right around the corner. I love that old army post. I might walk by one day a holler at you from the road.
Good luck to Kevin!

Unknown said...

What an amazing project to be taking on. I know it is going to be so much fun and so rewarding. I can't wait to follow along.

There certainly are a lot of exciting things in your life right now. Enjoy!!

geri said...

Layla & kevin.
You are both living out your dreams.
You have shown us all what a lot of faith, a lot of talent, and a lot of perservearance can accomplish.
I know how much you appreciate everything that you have and what you have done & what you will be doing next.
I am beyond excited for you both.
Doing this house is as great as design Star. You are a Design Star already!
Too bad for HGTV. hehe
Wonderful wishes. geri.

Nadir @ Hodgepodge said...

What an amazing opportunity you have! I can't wait to see the progress on it!

Janet said...

What an exciting summer you're going to have! Can't wait to see what you do. Hopefully you can sneak in some shots of John's place??? Luv the guy.

The Langham's said...

A great local (South Alabama) watercolorist is Willoweise Langham. She is my husband's great aunt. Her paintings are signed only Willoweise. She lives in Fairhope, AL. Her paintings are for sale in a few shops in downtown Fairhope as well as in her "shop" at her home a few streets over from downtown. Her blue crab and pelican paintings are my favorite. She has been commissioned by Bob Hope, the folks at Churchill Downs, etc. She's an extraordinary talent. I want to do a blog post about her work but I don't think any of her paintings have been scanned electronically. I may just have to start with our own personal collection. She's worth looking into. Love your blog. Feel free to contact me if you're interested. I can give you her contact information. ( --Abby

TheVirginiaHouse said...

Wow, so much going on! Good luck to Kevin and congratulations on the "redoing of the Tybee". That sounds like a dream come true to me!

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

I can't wait to see what you gonna do with that Tybee Cottage!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What a journey God is sending you on, it sounds so exciting.

Laura Trevey said...

I need to try the baked garlic grits!! Yummm....

Heather Ozee said...

How cool to get to stay in the Queen of Good Southern Cookin's little Beach side nest. Thanks for sharing!

Shaunna said...

Let me tell you, Paula's baked garlic cheese grits are a breakfast staple around here, and they are INCREDIBLE! You should definitely go for it. :)

Ally said...

Wow! You guys sound busy! What a great opportunity you have on the island and musically as well. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a teensy bit jealous. :0) Enjoy!

Unknown said...

Congratulations on all that is happening for you both. Yay for Kevin and his band. My husband would love to be where Kevin is.

OK, though, really.... that's all that Kevin has for his music stuff? A neat little corner in the bedroom? My hubby has several guitars, amps, cords galor, recording equipment, etc. And, Kevin has got to have more...where does he keep it all? I'm just really stumped how and where to store it so he doesn't feel like a second class citizen. :-)

Of course, he and I would love for him to have his own little recording studio, but due to the size of our housef (and budget), it's not going to happen.

Anyway, congrats again! So happy for you!

Lettered Cottage said...

Hey "KatherinHanson"!

The guys have rented a "band room" for the past eighteen years. The other 90% of his gear is stored there!



jessica said...

wow, what an uplifting and inspiring post (mostly the part about the running shoes). you guys deserve the good fortune coming your way! good luck and im looking forwarding to see all the fun progress when the time comes! congrats

angela | the painted house said...

Oh, my, what a fun opportunity awaits you in Tybee! I'll look forward to watching the transformation.

Best wishes, Kevin, on the new record!

Katie said...

Congrats Layla and Kevin! Can't wait to see the place when it is all spruced up!

The Weathered Bungalow said...

That might quite possibly be my dream job! That is soooo exciting! Can't wait to see what you two have in store for the old place...

xoxo, Meredith

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see what you do with the place!!! I'm so looking forward to you putting your touch on well as snapshots of the hilarious moments that will, unquestionably, take place along the way!!!

Stephenie from Decorating Addiction said...

Wow Layla, This post just kept getting better and better! I was amazed at your trip, Kevin's success and now the renovation of the new place. Very cool! Congrats on everything. Life is good.

Unknown said...

OH MY STARS!!!! Information Overload! Love Ya'll and so glad things are going your way!

Meredith Newberry said...

Oh my gosh -- this entry is soo exciting. Everything is FANTASTIC news. To be able to move to a gorgeous, relaxing place for the summer to do exactly what you love to do -- with the whole family -- ahhhhh. Congratulations -- you deserve all these great things :-)

Mallory's Mommy said...

Mr TLC's band is one of my favorites of all time, I know Ive said that here before hehe. I was so sad when I thought I would never get to see them live but now my dream is going to come true I know it! Lol

I'm also soooo excited to see what you do with the cottage :D

Donna (Timeless Settings) said...

Wow, what a great opportunity! I love your blog and can't wait to see the transformation! Enjoy Tybee, it's like stepping back in time!

Lettered Cottage said...

Thanks for the heads up on that lamp Michelle! I LOOOOOVE IT!



Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I have Inn envy those beds in Paula's house look plush and comfy!

Enlisted Men's Mess Hall - sounds like an album title. Heh.

Melissa Stover said...

what a great opportunity!! i'm so excited for you. you will have so much to blog about.

My Cottage Charm said...

Maybe Kevin and John can get together and have a jam session! lol
Glad you get to do something so positively cool with your summer! Congrats to Kevin (again) on his new album....I know you must be SO proud! I hope he'll have time to help renovate!! :-o
Hugs to you girl!

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

How fun! So many balls in the air. Balls in the air is good!

But WHY does Paula have a lifesize cardboard pic?? Just wonderin'.

Leen said...

super fun post, Layla! Congrats to Kevin, that is so exciting!!

How lucky are you to be staying at Tybee?! Actually, talent, not luck had more to do with it I am sure. I would definitely go to auctions looking for "stuff" for the house! I go (too often) and find oodles of great items for amazing prices.

cindy said...

What a wonderful and fun opportunity..~..dream job of fixing up a cottage and stalking J.C.M.!

Cathy said...

I loved hearing about and seeing your trip! I can't wait to see your new reno there..

{{Big Hugs}}


Martha said...

What a fun trip! That Paula Dean card board would have freaked me out too.

I am glad to hear that Kevin is getting back out there and recording...I still have the Trust Co. CD from "my younger cooler self days". In fact we met the band when they came to BOISE. Now I am here obsessed over your blog. what a small world.

Both of you keep it up!

Nancy said...

Oh my goodness the end of your kitchen redo video is hilarious. Thanks so much for sharing. You made me, quite literally, laugh out loud.

Cottage Rose said...

OH Layla. I just loved that video,,, how cute you two are... love the kitchen redo..... and from what I read you two are going to really busy bee's.... have a great week...


Elisabeth said...

Have you seen the beach house reno that Frugal Farmhouse is doing? I am loving it so far! Her style is a lot like yours. It will be fun to check in on your progress!


Crafty Niche said...

Can't wait to see what you do to beach cottage and wishing lots of good luck to Kevin!

LBDDiaries said...

Glad I found your website (via PW & Hy) - I'm preparing to remodel and love your ideas. Can't wait to incorporate color schemes instead of all white walls (or the dreaded summer suede).

M--- said...

Just found your blog after a short stint of blog-hopping...and I must say, I'm glad I did. Loved your photos of "Y'all Come Inn" so I scrolled down to the next post about Jane and now I wanna find a cottage of my own! I have to admit though, I was only "hooked" after watching your kitchen re-do #2 video and the outtakes. Y'all are cute (I don't mean that condescendingly AT ALL, but TOTALLY lovingly!) and I wanna put you in my pocket and take you home! I'll be back to scour your blog for more fun and I can't wait! Toodles and smooches!

Bravehearted Beauty {formerly LLH Designs} said...

Love the video. Ya'll are too cute!!! Love all the little moves you do in between painting the kitchen. And cracking up watching you get situated for the perfect shot. Like you're in a life raft?!?! Hysterical! And you should sing more for sure! Hope you sing lots off camera!

Whatever you do, keep having fun together!

♥ Linsey

Margitta said...

You really have inspired me to turn my norwegian home into a beach cottage!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Layla, This is a wonderfu post! I was in Savannah two weeks ago, and did a post about going to her restaurant, The Land and Sons!
You must have had so much fun staying in this wonderful beach home.
So much fun to peek into her life.

Unknown said...

"Discovered" your blog via PW and I've been enjoying perusing your posts. Your work is lovely and transports me to the seaside! :) Looking forward to reading more! ~K

Kristy Carberry said...

How amazing is it that Paula shares her home? She's from the town where I live in South GA, but I had no idea that she rented her beach house. I checked out the Mermaid website and think that a girl's trip will be happening in late Summer!
I just found your blog while blog hopping and I'm glad that I did. Thanks for sharing and Good Luck in Tybee!

Kristy Carberry said...

How amazing is it that Paula shares her home? She's from the town where I live in South GA, but I had no idea that she rented her beach house. I checked out the Mermaid website and think that a girl's trip will be happening in late Summer!
I just found your blog while blog hopping and I'm glad that I did. Thanks for sharing and Good Luck in Tybee!

alicia said...

OH Tybee Island is WONDERFUL!!! We stayed there last year and although we didn't stay at paula's place the place we did stay at was HUGE. It too had 3 floors and 6 bedrooms, a complete wrap around porch with so many little areas to sit and relax it was an island unto it's own. The WHOLE place was huge and awesome so have so much fun that u can't stand to leave. That's what I did. :)

Cynthia Kay said...

I just discovered your blog (via PW) and am enjoying your posts. Your website is very visually appealing.

Unknown said...

As a new mother of twins, I cannot think of a sweeter gift than Geezees Custom Canvas Art. I may just have a photo or two [hundred] in mind. I hope I win the gift certificate! I can't wait to see your new Spring mantel. You & kevin are so creative...and adorable!

Kim said...

Wow! Any of those events would be a single blog post for me, but you are one busy girl!!!

Congrats to Kevin on the label. So glad that he has the chance to follow his dream! Maybe he can jam with John Mellencamp in Tybee :)

Bonita Rose said...

Our family is planning a week trip to tybee Aug 25-Sept1.. first time ever in GA.. we're really excited.. hoping to find a house/condo on the beach to rent.. we hv two teenage girls!!!
hugs to you. xo