Front Row Seats

Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and Deer Lake State Park, this new home merges carefree elegance with timeless comfort amid a stunning coastal setting.

The window wall folds away, inviting one to leap into the pool or simply swim in the luxury of the panoramic views. Photos by Jean Allsopp

A front-row seat along the Gulf guarantees maximum exposure to the wonders of nature. The water is a constant presence no matter the season, whether obscured by morning fog, sparkling in the midday sun, or lapping on the shore at sunset. Its sounds and scents instill a calm for those who live nearby.

The pool terrace offers relaxed seating and endless views.

For a Birmingham family, all this and more inspired the design of their recently completed beach house. Although they already owned another place in Seagrove, the family was drawn to this property’s secluded feel and loved the fact that it was conveniently located halfway between Seaside and Rosemary Beach. It was the perfect spot to build their retreat.

Hoping to capture both the splendor and fun of living on the beach, local architect Cameron Hughes of Chancey Design Partnership and designers Paige Schnell and Anna Kay Porch of Tracery teamed up to craft a refuge in step with the majestic setting. To maintain the contours of the existing dunes while making the most of views, Cameron angled the structure and positioned the main living spaces on the second floor. “When living areas are elevated, it’s important to create a welcoming entry and procession up through the house, ” says Cameron. A sheltering vestibule outfitted with a wooden day bench and a seascape painting offer an  introduction of things to come. But only when one climbs the elegantly detailed stairway and “arrives” does the magic of this home become apparent.

Twelve-foot-tall ceilings and a seamless interchange between indoors and outdoors create a great room that more than lives up to the name. Traditional architectural details and a gracious furniture arrangement offer a comfortable and familiar formality, but the real focal point of the space is just past the pool terrace. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t do anything to distract from the stunning views of the ocean and the nearby state park, ” says Paige.

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The designers established a tranquil mood with a palette of whites and sandy neutrals layered with rich textures. Upholstered pieces in durable cottons and linens combine comfort with practicality. Unexpected accents, such as a mirrored cocktail table, a whimsical furry ottoman, and a polished chrome arc floor lamp, add a bit of modern chic to the space, while seagrass rugs atop natural coral stone flooring encourage laid-back living.

The center of social living is one grand space, where the kitchen and gathering areas offer flexibility and clearly signal a spirit of hospitality. A sunny corner nook accommodates a round table, perfect for small gatherings, games on rainy days, or a spot to work on a laptop.

In a beach house, the kitchen should always be open for business. With this goal in mind, the design team placed the beautiful aspects of the kitchen front and center while the less attractive, hard-working elements are relegated to a large pantry—out of view but still close enough for efficiency.

On the third floor, the master suite also defers to the view and enjoys its own private porch. The bed faces a trio of tall windows, and a pair of facing chairs creates a cozy conversation area that cleverly frames the view.

Overall, the home exudes an open invitation to unwind and enjoy life along the water. With their coastal retreat complete, the family jumps at every chance to head to 30A, whether for a weekend, a week, or longer.

In the master bedroom, colors nod to restful grays and soft blues. A pair of silver coral lamps on the chest and a seascape by a local artist acknowledge the coastal setting.

Interior Design: Paige Sumblin Schnell and Anna Kay Porch, Tracery, Rosemary Beach, FL Architecture: Cameron Hughes, Chancey Design Partnership, Seagrove, FL Select Upholstered Furniture: Lee Industries, Pool Deck: FireRock

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