Cottage Revival

<em>Photography by Jean Allsopp<em>

Seaside was founded 40 years ago with the goal of creating an old-fashioned holiday beach town enlivened with front porches, picket fences, shops, and restaurants within walking distance, as well as the sounds of children playing in the Gulf.  

The early houses of Seaside were built of wood with gabled metal roofs, and their iconic images of home evoked memories of summers long ago while fostering uncomplicated activities of the past.

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This cottage, built in 1988, is a true Seaside classic. It possesses the low-key, old Florida charm of the town’s earlier designs and resides on a generous lot along a quiet street. Recently sold by the original owners (and full-time residents of Seaside), the home had remained mostly untouched—something the new owners cherished. The house was crafted of authentic materials and had good bones and great vibes.

<em>Details such as shiplap beaded board ceiling beams and bleached hardwood floorsalong with soothing coastal colorsunderscore the charms of this classic Seaside cottage<em>

Purchasing it as a second home and rental meant it needed updates—and a designer that understood the new owners’ intentions. When the buyers discovered that Paige Schnell of Tracery Interiors was the decorator for a rental that had become one of their favorite places to stay, the decision was easy. “A vacation home by its very nature is different than a permanent residence,” says Paige. “Our goal was to create a fun and inviting getaway for an active young family.” 

With two gabled structures connected with a hallway, the plan is loosely based on a traditional Southern dogtrot house, which works surprisingly well for a 21st-century vacation retreat. With the kitchen/keeping room and guest bedroom in one wing and the formal living area and master suite in the other, there are two distinct gathering spots. “This is a welcomed arrangement when two families are sharing the house,” says Paige. 

Rather than add square footage, Paige made the most of existing spaces. A partial wall came down in the kitchen, and a new peninsula offers a casual eat-in counter. The marble-tile backsplash, Wolf Range, soft-blue cabinets, and sleek chrome hardware elevate the small space in a big way. By moving the dining table to the living area, Paige was able to carve out a keeping room adjacent the kitchen. 

For materials and surfaces, Paige looked to tried-and-true finishes while honoring existing cottage details. The original heart pine floors had yellowed over the years, but they gained new life after being bleached. Refinished, the floors are now almost the color of driftwood. Beaded board and V-groove paneling received a coat of white paint throughout, adding even more airiness to the home’s peaked ceilings.   

The reconfigured master suite now accommodates a new freestanding shower and soaking tub. A barn door creates a pleasing connection and takes up less space.  

A stairway leads to the restructured loft with a new wall that adds enough privacy to create a comfortable sleeping area. “The bottom bunk is a queen and the top is a double so even adults are comfortable,” says Paige. To accommodate guests working while on vacation, Paige outfitted the loft with a corner desk. A built-in chest and window seat are compact enough to accommodate a king bed in the second bedroom. “Always try to find a way to make room for a king if you plan to rent your cottage,” says Paige.  “Your guests will thank you.”

For rental information: The Sawyer House, Homeowners Collection

Live Like a Local on 30A

Several new gathering spots offering everything from casual breakfast to artisan cocktails have recently opened up along 30A, joining beloved old favorites. 

The Citizen at Alys Beach is upscale eatery and sophisticated tavern offering coastal cuisines from around the world, shaved ice confections, and inventive cocktails in a sleek, contemporary setting or a relaxed, street-side setting. 

Scratch Biscuit Kitchen serves up casual breakfast and brunch with counter and take-out service, as well as outdoor cafe seating in the WaterColor Town Center.

Black Bear Bar Room is the afternoon companion to the popular Black Bear Bread Company. Located in the Shops of Grayton, this neighborhood watering hole showcases natural wines, craft beer, farm-raised oysters and small plates to share. 

The Red Bar is back and just as fun and funky as ever. After the Grayton Beach icon was destroyed by fire in February 2019, the owners were determined to rebuild. And they did to the exact previous specifications as before—except for a bigger women’s bathroom. The Red Bar reopened on July 15, 2020.

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Eleanor Nesmith

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