vie magazine subscribe button

The Legacy Home

A Show House Revival

By Lynn Nesmith | Photography by Jack Gardner

Coastal sensibilities and a sophisticated ambience distinguish this most recent incarnation of a storied house nestled amid the dunes overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in WaterSound Beach, Florida.

The provenance of a house can often be a reflection of the history of the place. The old saying “If these walls could talk” usually implies hidden confidences that occurred within. However, it is the story of how this home in WaterSound Beach, Florida, so accurately mirrors the dramatic ups and downs—and ups again—of the volatile real estate market along Scenic Highway 30-A that is noteworthy.

The house was original built in 2004 by The St. Joe Company as a show house for Southern Accents magazine and as a benchmark for the aesthetics of the budding community of WaterSound Beach. Designed by New York architect John Kirk of Cooper, Robertson and Partners, the house drew inspiration from the grand waterfront homes of the Shingle style, without forsaking the charm of more modest seaside cottages. The original interiors were the handiwork of Atlanta designer Suzanne Kasler.


The design readily nods to the architecture of the northeast Atlantic coast. An animated profile, graceful proportions, and engaging materials of the classic Shingle style instill its distinctive character, yet the house is clearly rooted in the practicalities of the Southern vernacular traditions in the Florida Panhandle. The widow’s walk, upper balconies, bay windows, and gables allude to romantic illusions of historic seaside resorts of New England, while deep wraparound porches, sheltering overhangs, and breezeways are a direct response to the Gulf Coast climate.

During the summer of 2004, the house was open to the public for tours, introducing thousands of tourists and locals to WaterSound Beach. An eager speculator quickly bought the house at the top of the market.

A client was looking for properties as an investment. He immediately saw the potential and made the decision to buy the house in less than thirty minutes.

Fast-forward to 2013. No need to recount the ensuing years, which were not the happiest chapters for our area. But by July 2013, the tide was turning. “A client was looking for properties as an investment,” recalls real estate agent Erin Oden of Coastal Luxury Group. “He immediately saw the potential and made the decision to buy the house in less than thirty minutes.”

The exterior of the house hadn’t lost its luster, but cosmetic interior renovations were in order. Soon, designer Erika McPherson Powell of Urban Grace Interiors was on board to return it to its former glory. “From the beginning, our objective was to freshen up the house and make it marketable,” explains Erika. “Unlike a magazine show house that’s all about eye-catching details and current trends that look good in photography, our goal was a subtle and sophisticated look that would appeal to everyone.”


First and foremost, it was to remain a beach house with a welcoming connection to its setting. The outdoor spaces boast a distinctive personality, fostering a year-round relationship with nature. Deep front porches embrace the start of day, and an octagonal second-floor veranda takes in views of the dunes and the Gulf, while a generous widow’s walk seizes the glory of the setting sun.

Erika made changes where necessary but retained the original detailing when appropriate. The rooms are filled with soothing and subtle furnishings and fabrics that enhance the original architecture and suggest a certain way of living—one that is appropriate for this place by the water—a relaxed, coastal sophistication. The recurring theme adopts an easy and effortless transition from interior rooms to intimate porches and generous outdoor living rooms and, ultimately, to the sand and water beyond. Rather than a formal front door, oversized double doors open from the porch into a foyer that also functions as the dining room. “A round table encourages an easy flow through the space and is better for conversation,” says Erika.

The interior spaces are arranged in a contemporary response with rooms flowing from one to another. With a sense of ease and intimacy, subtle details and corresponding colors define the various spaces. None of the rooms is grand in scale. The glamour comes from fine craftsmanship, muted colors, and relaxed furnishings that are high end but chosen with comfort and durability in mind.


Furniture and fabrics reflect a welcoming exchange between indoors and outdoors, with a gentle palette of clear, cool colors inspired by the sand and the sea. Shades of pale blues, aqua, and creamy whites abound. The original oak floors with their whitewashed effect remain the perfect complement to the furnishings and accessories—appropriately casual yet utterly sophisticated.

Shades of pale blues, aqua, and creamy whites abound. The original oak floors with their whitewashed effect remain the perfect complement to the furnishings and accessories.

The spirit of the house converges in the kitchen and sunny breakfast nook, where Erika made a few changes intended to deliver the biggest impact, such as adding clear-glass cabinet doors and a Calcutta marble mosaic tile backsplash in a classic plaid pattern. The island was painted gray, and the cabinets were coated with a fresh shade of white. Double doors open onto the porch, which is outfitted with a table for alfresco dining. Upstairs, the palette of soft colors and air of casual elegance continue.

Legacy House - walk through from VIEzine on Vimeo
.

All genuinely good buildings draw you back time and again. The renovations were completed on schedule, and the house was back on the market by Memorial Day 2014 as planned. Coming full circle again, the house sold in less than a week and for nearly the same price as it did in 2004. This time, however, the new owners were looking for a beach home for their own enjoyment, as opposed to an investment property.

Blessed with a commanding setting that overlooks rolling white dunes and endless emerald waters, this house is basking in the immeasurable possibilities of an excited new family looking to set down roots in WaterSound Beach. It’s certainly a happy ending for a house with a colorful past.

— V —



Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
Summertime!
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail

X

A LIFESTYLE