Beach Refinements

A house along the water is a luxury regardless of the square footage or aesthetic ambitions. From simple beach cottages to grand family compounds, each home seems to embrace the spirit of the coast while possessing a style all its own. Linda and Charles Israel’s new home in Seagrove follows this cherished coastal tradition, celebrating the unique sights, sounds, and diversions of living along the water. 

“We starting coming to Seaside when the town was new and our children were young, ” recalls Linda. The Birmingham couple fell in love with the area and later purchased a classic concrete-block house in Old Seagrove in 2004. And as Highway 30A grew, so did their family.

A sheltered screened porch functions as a true outdoor room overlooking the Gulf, providing the perfect place to toast the sunset.

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“We all like to come to the beach at the same time, but with five children, spouses, and grandchildren, we needed more space, ” explains Linda. They considered adding on to their cottage because they loved the location, but when a large lot just down the street became available, the couple decided to start from scratch. To create a home befitting the prime location high on a bluff overlooking the ocean, the Israels enlisted interior designer Georgia Carlee, architect Tom Christ, and builder Buster Woodruff.

The house honors its nautical address with deep porches, plentiful balconies, abundant French doors, and large windows. “I had seen a magazine cover of a house in WaterColor that Georgia designed, and I was drawn to her look, ” says Linda. The easygoing rooms, slipcovered furnishings, soft textures, and mix of old and new appealed to Linda’s sense of style. “Georgia and I hit it off immediately, ” she says.

The designer balanced a sense of grand and intimate spaces with a neutral color scheme drawn from nature, along with even-handed tailoring and practical furnishings that feel accumulated over time. Rough-hewed exposed beams, wood paneling, custom cabinets, and pecky cypress ceilings are layered with restraint to add density and scale. Upstairs, wood floors are hand-scrubbed for a finish that ages well under sandy feet and wet bathing suits.

The appeal of this house is its mixture of comfort, elegance, and liveability. First-time visitors and longtime friends move about with the same of sense of belonging as family members. “We christened the house with a graduation trip for our daughter and 17 of her friends, ” laughs Linda. “Everyone had her own bed and a good time.”

In the end, it’s all about the beach, family, and camaraderie at this refined retreat along the Gulf. For the Israels,  this truly is home away from home. 

ABOVE Soft hues in the living room interact differently throughout the day according to the sunlight, sometimes evoking the warm tones of the wood and other times mirroring shades of the Gulf.


ABOVE LEFT A sunny sitting room off the kitchen features four upholstered chairs that swivel to encourage interaction with the cook or to allow for intimate conversation. 

ABOVE RIGHT Georgia mixed natural stone and textured wood finishings in the generous family kitchen. A herringbone-patterned backsplash and large wooden corbels animate the stove’s recessed niche.

ABOVE French doors opening onto both a screened porch and a side terrace flood the spacious dining room with natural light.


ABOVE LEFT The guest house bedroom easily accommodates two queen beds and a round table for games or casual meals.

ABOVE RIGHT Waves of blue accents in the master suite pay homage to the coastal locale. Furnishings and simple accessories defer to the views and the play of natural light. 

ABOVE In the luxurious master suite, Georgia layered soft linens and textures with a contemporary chaise longue, sisal rugs, antique doors, and salvaged architectural fragments.

ABOVE A trio of oyster shell lanterns, large porthole-style mirrors, and natural stone finishes enliven the downstairs guest bathroom.


ABOVE LEFT Georgia arranged six mirrors above the bed to accentuate the niche and give depth to the downstairs guest suite. 

ABOVE RIGHT A large contemporary farm sink enlivens the loft bathroom and adds an unexpected touch.

ABOVE A whimsical playroom occupies the third floor and includes built-in beds set under the eaves.

ABOVE Welcoming but not overwhelming, an archway defines the front door and beckons visitors. 


Interior designer: Georgia Carlee, GCI Designs Santa Rosa Beach, FL • 850.217.8155 •; Builder: Buster Woodruff, Woodruff Construction, Santa Rosa Beach, FL • 850.231.3202; Architect: Tom Christ, Christ & Associates Grayton Beach, FL • 850.231.0883 •; Custom kitchen and bathroom cabinets: Gulf South Kitchen Design Fort Walton, FL •; Kitchen cabinet hardware and pulls: The Fixture Exchange Destin, FL • 850.654.8883 •; Hanging light fixtures – kitchen/bathroom: Destin Lighting,; Bath and kitchen fixtures: Kenny and Company, Birmingham, AL • 205.323.5616 •; Paintings in master bedroom: artist Sherry Sandquist,

text and styling by Lynn Nesmith • photography by Jean Allsopp

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