When it comes to Christmas décor, red and green is the go-to scheme for most of the planet.
But not on Tybee Island, where bright teals and vibrant corals are making spirits bright this holiday season thanks to local style maven Jane Coslick. The renowned interior designer has decked the halls of some of the island’s loveliest cottages with her signature beach chic for her fourth annual Holiday Cottage Tour Saturday, Dec. 5, to benefit the Humane Society.
“I use a lot of color and plenty of white for Christmas,” says the celebrated preservationist whose transformative work regularly appears in iconic shelter mags like Southern Living, Sunset and This Old House.
Coslick has been adding cheer to homes near and far since 1984, mixing up vintage pieces and radiant hues for the island-infused atmosphere she’s been asked to recreate everywhere from big city condos to mountain cabins in North Carolina.
“It’s about that old Tybee feeling,” she describes. “It’s the idea of the whimsical, the relaxed, the comfort and the nature.”
Seven of her meticulously decorated cottages will be on this year’s tour, along with a grand holiday display at the recently opened Tybee Post Theater.
“All these house are so exciting, they all have interesting personalities,” says the Isle of Hope denizen. “When it comes to my flair, it’s always about presenting the feeling of the house. Porches are very important. And little paths around the yard.”
Along with color and spaces, animals are another great passion of Coslick’s, especially the plight of the feral cat colonies on Tybee. The cottage tour began in 2011 as a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Greater Savannah, which she collaborates on with Tybee locals and avid HSGS volunteers Shirley Sessions and her sister, Sandy McCloud
“Every year we say we’ll never do it again! But then one of us will say, ‘it’s about the animals!’ and we’ll get to work,” laughs Sessions.
Sessions reports that the tour has raised between $6,000 and $11,000 each year for HSGS programs like Operation New Hope, giving inmates an opportunity to help a shelter dog become adoptable, and Nuzzle Buddies, which pairs young readers with a furry companion.
“Our philosophy is that however much money we make, it’s more than there was to begin with,” says Sessions.
The building fund for a low-cost spay and neuter facility also greatly benefited from past décor tours, and the trio of organizers is overjoyed to see that project come to fruition. HSGS broke ground on the clinic earlier this fall and is slated to open it mid-January.
“What this means that the community will be able to have their cats and dogs spayed and neutered for as low as 30 dollars,” says Sessions.
“It’s not meant to take the place of veterinarians, but it gives people who can’t afford to spay or neuter their animals a way to help curb the population explosion. The goal is to see less homeless pets.”
Sessions likens Coslick’s enthusiasm for preserving Tybee’s original beach cottages to tending to the thousands of unwanted animals that HSGS sees every year.
“When a house gets old, sometimes it’s torn down and dismissed, like a puppy or kitten that people lose interest in when is gets older,” she muses.
“There is still so much joy that can come from an older home or an older pet with a little care.”
Christmas at the beach may include unconventional merriment like sea stars ornaments and sand instead of tinsel and glitter, but it’s all part of the holiday season on Tybee. Coslick is grateful to those who open their charming beach houses for the charitable event.
“It’s an opportunity to educate the public on preservation and animal rescue, and it’s also going to be just a lovely time.”