Floor plan in place, Coslick and McNall then focused on preserving the look of a historic Tybee Island beach cottage. Just as McNall had taken the original pine boards off the cottage's exterior, he removed the tongue-and-groove heart pine from the interior. He worked on the studs, insulated between them, then started reinstalling boards on the walls and ceilings, having stripped and sanded them. In the porch addition spaces, he used new yellow pine. "I bought some that was a little wet. I put it up and it shrunk and cracked," he says, explaining how he blended it in with the mature pine throughout the rest of the house.

To add character to the interior spaces, Coslick designed simple rectangular transoms over entranceways and windows, similar to ones found in other Tybee cottages, and she hit her regular salvage yards for doors and hardware. "They're mismatched throughout the house," she says, in keeping with the informality of the place. French doors replaced the modern sliders that opened onto the porch.

When Erica couldn't find kitchen cabinets she liked, she turned to Coslick and McNall. "They all looked too finished," she says. "I wanted something that you'd think was built with the house." Their solution was to build simple boxes, with doors made of new 1x6 pine beadboard, and paint them white, like the rest of the interior.

This summer will be the Wilsons' first in their freshly restored home. Tad and Erica and their three young children will spend days kayaking, fishing, and walking the beach. As with generations of Tybee islanders before them, all life will radiate from their beach cottage, which by the way, still tilts, albeit gently. When reconstructing the home, McNall sheathed over and framed out around any gaps where the walls had moved. The Wilsons say it's part of the personality of the house. And they've since heard it wasn't the hurricane of '47 that was responsible for the place racking, after all, but the home's original builder/owner, Captain George P. Walker. You see, when Capt. Walker first brought Mrs. Walker out to see her new cottage, she didn't like the view. So her husband had the house moved. Which could be true, because the word on Tybee is that the sunset views from that second-story porch are, honestly, the best on the island.
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