March's Architectural Digest spotlights the fresh interiors of musician John Mellencamp's South Carolina manse, a custom-built estate inspired by a photo he took of a church in Myrtle Beach. It actually began three decades ago, when Mellencamp first came across Daufuskie Island, a drop of the Carolinas right across from Savannah, Ga., with the ultimate superstar (Mellencamp, after all, has had 22 Top-40 hits and boasts Meg Ryan as a beau) amenity: the kind of privacy only afforded by a spot accessible exclusively by boat. He laid down for "several acres," then left it for more than 10 years, all because he "never got around" to building a bona fide house. Then, he saw the church.
Moved by an old religious space he happened upon in Myrtle Beach, Mellencamp got in touch with local architect Neil Gordon and asked him to design a clean-lined country estate obviously inspired by a spired old church, with svelte, pointed-arch windows and what AD describes as a "navelike" central living hall "ringed by a gallery reminiscent of a choir loft."
After it was built, though, the house again "sat fallow," as Mellencamp told the magazine, until girlfriend Ryan told him to make a real house out of it. He called up NYC-based designer Monique Gibson, who had done three other of his houses, to whip the place into shape. She widened the doors, redid the kitchen, carved out a library "rich with art books," and brought in furnishings like a 27-foot-long table for the hall. The living room also features drawings by the fireplace, a whale-rib sculpture on the hall table, and antique wing chairs flanking the gallery.
The new kitchen (↑) includes lighting by Restoration Hardware—uh, RH—and portraits by Marvin Cherney and Walt Kuhn. The master bedroom (↓) features a bed designed by Gibson herself, with Sferra bed linens and a British Colonial armchair in the corner.