Just Add Fun

In the living room, an antique mirror and sideboard anchor a corner of the living room designed by Tracery Interio

A designer showhouse is the perfect venue for inspiration and innovation. The Cultural Arts Alliance Showhouse for the Arts in The Retreat, an exclusive beachfront neighborhood along Scenic Highway 30A, provides an enchanting canvas of ideas in a coastal setting. More than a dozen talented designers applied their signature style, transforming various rooms in this already stunning masterpiece and enlivening free-flowing spaces with all manner of imaginative design concepts.  

To capture panoramic views and prevailing Gulf breezes, architect Dawn Thurber positioned the main living spaces on the second floor. In keeping with the relatively open floor plan of the new home, designers were encouraged to use a peaceful palette that ebbs and flows from one room to the next as gentle as the summer tide.

- Sponsors -

Individual designers acknowledged the home’s architectural background of finishes and materials and generous natural light, enlivening spaces with bold fabric statements, neutral schemes and classic color combinations, appealing furniture placement, and artful vignettes. In the spirit of the stunning Florida landscape, the showhouse presents a unified scheme in deference to the colors of nature—the emerald waters, lush greenery, the sugar white sand, azure blue skies—erasing the barriers between indoors and out. 

With harmony in mind, Paige Schnell, Anna Kay Porch, and Bess Marshall of Tracery Interiors set the perfect pitch in a living room that exudes serenity through subtle textures, quiet colors, and mercury glass accessories. A painting by Mallory Page above the fireplace, accent pillows, and fresh flowers add calming splashes of color.  A striking pewter globe, a commanding chandelier, and a large architectural fragment introduce an appropriate scale to space.

With a mirrored ceiling and a bank of tall windows already in place, Susan Byrd chose a neutral scheme of light colored linens and textures for the open dining area, offering an elegant transition between the formal living area and modern Florida room. Comfortable chairs slip covered in a practical cream colored linen surround a contemporary farm table for a timeless arrangement in keeping with a relaxed coastal lifestyle.

Rounding out the home’s gathering spaces is a media room and adjoining porch designed by Dale Trice, Kati Lockley, and Tina Vital of Design Services of Florida.  Located on the first floor, the cloistered media room offers a spot curl up with favorite old movie on one those rare rainy days at the beach.  Two sets of French doors open to an inviting arrangement of contemporary furniture and views of Draper Lake.

The home’s inventive floor plan carves out a gracious guest house above the garage. Although adjoining the main house, a separate stairway off the foyer provides privacy while allowing easy access to main living spaces. Lizzy Rose outfitted the guest kitchen and dining area as a playful counterpoint to the main house’s more formal stance. Atlanta designer Tamara Bickley echoed the whimsical attitude in the guest bedroom with a few bold accents of color in an otherwise white room. 

In the third-floor master suite, designer Susan Massey plied her trademark style of merging old and new with the perfect balance of relaxed elegance. A plush sisal rug anchors the conversation area and a pair of Aubusson rugs adds a softer touch along a decidedly modern bed. 

A simple wooden sideboard anchors a corner of the guest house’s cozy living area designed by Lizzy Rose. A collection of seashell prints rounds out the symmetrical vignette.

For a gracious guest suite on the second floor adjoining the main living spaces, Holly Floyd Shipman achieved a theme of serenity. A medley of textures combines with the quiet colors of the sea and sky, as well as existing ornate blue tile work of the bathroom. For an eclectic mix of art, Holly stayed close to home, hanging an abstract beach landscape by her sister Sherry Floyd Sandquist above the bed and a positioning a bust by her cousin Felecia Floyd Basham in the elegant bath.

Proximity to the water is a luxury to be explored, and this Showhouse for the Arts revels in the immeasurable sights and sounds of the Gulf with purpose and delight. The décor is all about the beach. Rooms exude an invitation to linger and relax, while the sheer elegance of the various designs shines with undiminished style and grace. 


Designers: Paige Schnell, Anna Kay Porch & Bess Marshall of Tracery Interiors  Rosemary Beach and Birmingham • 850.231.6755 or 205.414.6026 • traceryinteriors.com  Susan Byrd of Pizitz Home & Cottage Seaside • 850.231.2240 • pizitzhomeandcottage.com  Susan Massey of Bohlert Massey Interiors Seacrest • 850.231.3940 • bolhertmassey.com Jennifer Hunter of Domicile Life Santa Rosa Beach • 850.622.1030 • domicilelife.com  Lizzy Rose Auburn, Alabama  • 817.921.9290 •  lizzyroseportfolio.com  Holly Floyd Shipman Santa Rosa Beach • 850.510.6777 • [email protected] Tamara Bickley of Tamara Bickley Design Santa Rosa Beach & Atlanta • 404.509.9616 • tamarabickleydesign.com Luanne Reeves Kelly of Luanne Kelly Interiors 850.520.0128 Tammy Massey of The Art of Dwelling & Todd Dunbar Reeves ID Modern Interiors Santa Rosa Beach & Destin • 850.294.9404 • tammymassey.net  Libby Baker Speight of Baker Design Company Santa Rosa Beach • [email protected] Dale Trice, Kati Lockley & Tina Vital of Design Services of Florida Seagrove • 850.231.6842 • designservicesfl.com  Bill Musso, Todd Falconbury & Lauren Dott of Musso Design Group Atlanta • 404.873.1773 • MussoDesignGroup.com  real estate sponsor: Blake Moran, Destin Real Estate Company Santa Rosa Beach • 850.231.6052 • destinproperties.com  builder: Onno Horn of Domicile Luxury Homes Santa Rosa Beach • 850.622.1030 domcilelife.com architect: Dawn Thurber of Thurber Architecture Santa Rosa Beach • 850.534.0338 • Thurberarchitecture.com Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County 850.622.5970 • culturalartsalliance.com

Text by Lynn Nesmith

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!