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Inside Blanca Bay: A Conversation on Designing Tranquility

Blanca Bay on Brawley, StayLakeNorman’s newest property, is a stunning vacation home that leaves no detail untouched. It was designed by Macie Perreault & Bethany Starin from Interiors By Brighton. They describe the home’s design style as light and airy coastal mixed with modern Mediterranean. Our guests describe it as perfection. 

Macie Perreault, the design expert behind the luxury of Blanca Bay.

Macie explained, “I wanted the lake to feel like it was a part of the house as much as possible in every room, so I went as big as possible with all the windows. If you’re cooking in the kitchen, you feel like you’re at the lake. If you’re playing games in the basement, you know you’re at the lake. Also, I incorporated sliding doors on every room I could so that people could move straight out to the water.”

You would never guess that Macie is not formally trained, but her expertise is self-taught. “My husband and I flip homes and do new construction projects as well. So, I do all of the design selections for that business. I have been doing that for a few years now and I have educated myself and taken courses along the way.” 

It is precisely this organic mastery of her trade that inspired us to bring you this conversation with Macie about how to take on a new project and tips for bringing a design vision to life. If you’ve ever vacationed at a StayLakeNorman property and dreamed of bringing that type of intentional design into your own home, we hope this gives you inspiration.

What I typically do first is envision the end product and who it is for. I knew for this particular property the goal was for it to be a short term vacation rental. Keeping that in mind, I always start on Pinterest. I make a Pinterest board and name it something like “the lake house.” Within that board, I make other boards – for example, a bedrooms board, a kitchen board, tile, light fixtures, stairs, decks, pools, everything. So within my lake house board I probably had 20 to 30 more boards. Then I pin like crazy to those boards anything that looks inspirational or looks like what we’re going for. After I have a bunch pinned, I’ll go in and look at it all and start deleting what doesn’t fit. It’s amazing how much this step helps you clarify your vision.

Lake house vacation rental, Blanca Bay.

Once I have my Pinterest boards, which is really the inspiration side of it, I create my own mood boards on Canva. These will have the actual elements I’m bringing in, including paint colors, furniture, lighting, everything for each room. I work things in and out of those mood boards like crazy until it looks right.

design vision board for the kitchen at Blanca Bay side by side with the final design.
design vision board for the powder bathroom at Blanca Bay side by side with the final design.

I try to make each room feel different, but keep some of the same elements throughout. For example, I wanted the home to feel very white and light and airy and bright and I wanted to bring in warmth. I knew ahead of time as I was designing each room that I was going to have to bring in some wood elements, rattan, wicker or jute to really warm it up and bring texture in. I also knew that I wanted pops of color throughout and I chose mostly terracottas and greens. And from there that helped me picking out things in stores, artwork or rugs or whatever it may be, that had both colors.

I always try to bring in different mediums of artwork in each room. A room will fall flat if you have all canvas paintings, or if you have only pictures all over the walls. In each room, I tried to bring in a mix of photographs, paintings, sketches, even 3D art like wall objects to try to help it feel balanced and keep it interesting, as well as bringing in different shapes. By nature, architecture and furniture is very square and has a lot of straight lines and sharp corners. You can bring in curves not only through pictures and art, but with intentionally chosen furniture. A lot of the artwork I got from Society6 and a company called Olive et Oriel.

examples of artwork as a crucial part to tie design together

I keep going back to this but I would say curves. One reason I feel like that was really important is because when you have a place like this, it has a lot of doors because we wanted to bring the outside in and vice versa. But that also means a lot of traffic from a lot different directions. It’s hard when you have sharp corners everywhere. I tried to integrate things like round rugs, rounded chairs, the rounded couch, etc. I knew that there was going to be a lot of people here all coming and going.

Luxury vacation rental with private pool

I try on social media to only follow people that are lightyears ahead of me, so that keeps really unique things in front of you. I have tried to not follow the masses, if you will. I‘ve tried to find the masters of interior design. I’ll follow them on social media, look at their look-books on their website. I also love coffee table books – that’s huge. I look at those a ton for interior inspiration. 

I was very intentional about what books we got. For example, in the kitchen I knew I wanted cookbooks, but they couldn’t just be off the shelf. I intentionally sought out fun, funky looking, colorful cookbooks because I wanted everything to match. Not just match the vibe of the house, but this feeling I wanted to evoke. I wanted people to feel something different and unique in this house. With the other books, I was very intentional. Almost all of them are about travel or vacation – they’re full of people partying at pools or on ski slopes or in Hawaii or the Florida Keys. Because, same as the photography, when you look at it, there’s something inside of you feels like you’re there. It lends to what’s around you and it makes you feel like you’re a part of that.

StayLakeNorman luxury vacation rentals

Bringing in unexpected pieces I think is what helps the space feel really unique. A lot of the things that we brought in felt a little bold and funky  – especially to me because I love traditional stuff. It felt kind of risky, but I’m so happy that we ended up going for it with the funkier pieces.
I got probably at least 25% of the furniture off of Facebook marketplace. I’m a big marketplace lover. We did get a lot of stuff from Castlery and West Elm and CB2 and those type of places, but we very much mixed low and high end.

luxury vacation rentals charlotte
lakefront pet friendly vacation rentals

My first thought would be that oftentimes, less is more. We all have so much stuff, and I know it’s hard to get rid of it. Sometimes just coming up with storage solutions can help, like getting a huge TV console that you can hide a lot of your stuff in. And, paint is like the secret weapon for me. Of course the ideal would be if people had the money to redo the whole room, but most people don’t. So even just painting a space a new color can make it fresher or brighter. New curtains, hanging your curtains really high to the ceiling, really wide outside the window – that helps a lot. Keeping furniture neutral is really helpful for the everyday home. Then you can change out throw pillows, throw blankets and flowers in your vases. 
Another thing I did very intentionally with this house is plants. I feel plants bring so much life to a space. And they don’t have to be real! I love real plants. I feel like the lake house was a good example that you can get away with fake plants and they add so much. If a space is falling flat and something is missing, almost always adding a plant is the answer. A lot of them [at Blanca Bay] are from AllModern, and I think I got a few from West Elm and Crate and Barrel.

designing luxury lakefront vacation homes

Compelled to see Blanca Bay in person and soak up its distinctive charm? Call StayLakeNorman reservations and book your stay. If you are inspired to bring your own space new life, Interiors By Brighton is accepting inquiries from new clients at interiorsbybrighton@gmail.com. They can manage any project from one room consultations to new construction. Macie explained, “I know the power of what it feels like to be in a space that brings you peace. And I love being able to give that to people.”

interior view of main living space and open concept kitchen at StayLakeNorman luxury waterfront vacation rental, Blanca Bay.

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