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Elegant Family Vacation Home

Elegance and comfort play happily together in a new vacation home on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Written and produced by Eleanor Lynn Nesmith
  • Jean Allsopp

    The best houses set the stage for the way a family aspires to live. A second home defines the way they want to spend their free time—an invitation to leave life’s complications behind, relax, and have some fun. 

    For Melanie and Stephen Schoen, their house at the shore is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, with lazy beach days, long bike rides, barefoot living, and family time. And their destination of choice is the 20-mile stretch of Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle fondly known as Scenic 30A. 

    The couple met at a party on that beach, had their first date the following night in Seaside, married a year later, and kept coming back. “We rented dozens of places up and down the beach, and we came to love the vibe at WaterColor,” Melanie says. It didn’t take them long to realize they wanted a home to call their own. “The 30A coastal lifestyle spoke to us,” Stephen says. “This was the place for us.” However, they were in the process of building a permanent residence, so they put a vacation home on the back burner. 

    A two-level porch spans the front of the home. 

    Photography: Jean Allsopp 

    Architect: Tim Adams; project manager: Noah Speights, T.S. Adams Studio, 2969 Hardman Court N.E., Atlanta, GA 30305; 877/283-3499 and 404/262-3499. Florida office: 5281 E. County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/231-4631,
    Interior designers: Mary McWilliams and Kenson Bates, Mary Mac & Co., 5 Willow Glen, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30342; 404/845-0170,
    Contractors: Matt Parenzan and John Giles, Corestruction, 114 Logan Lane, Suite 2, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/855-1429,
    Exterior, siding and trim (Artisan Luxury Collection): James Hardie, 26300 La Alameda, Suite 400, Mission Viejo, CA 92691; 888/542-7343,
    Landscape designer: Chad Horton, Horton Land Works, Destin, FL; 850/699-1297,
    Kitchen design consultant: Design Galleria Kitchen & Bath Studio, 351 Peachtree Hills Ave. N.E., Suite 234, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/261-0111,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Front Porch

    “A year later, we almost bought a completed house, but we realized how much we enjoyed the design and building process,” Melanie recalls. “And how much we had enjoyed working with architect Tim Adams and designer Mary McWilliams, who teamed up on our Atlanta home.”

    Instead, the Schoens found a prime lot and soon were deep into the next collaboration. Overlooking Sandhill Circle Park, the home is a fresh take on a classic Southern farmhouse with expansive double porches, wide steps, tall windows, cheerful blue shutters, and a metal hip roof.

    Fiber cement board exterior lap siding and trim are from the James Hardie Artisan Collection. 

    Window treatment, custom pillows and bedding workroom: The Designer Workroom, 404/355-5080.  

    Page 51. Exterior—
    Siding; trim; shutters (Artisan Luxury Collection): James Hardie,
    Lanterns (“Governor Bracket Mount”): Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights,   
    Chairs (Leagrave Classic Lounge Chair”/Weathered); cushions (“Textured Linen Weave”/Navy, by Perennials): Restoration Hardware,
    Side table: Beau Home Interiors,
    Tall pots: Clay Garden & Gifts,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Light-Filled Entry

    The interiors are equally engaging, starting with an open central hall configuration. The floor plan allows for long sight lines through the house, with rooms defined by architectural detailing and furnishings rather than walls. Natural light floods the entry. 

    Wall paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149): Benjamin Moore,
    Console table (“Lucy Smith Quatrefoil Table”/Champagne with limestone top): Holland & Co.,
    Side chairs (Berthe Side Chairs” #CFH240 E272 A003): Zentique,
    Chair fabric (“Callery Circles”/Mist #0188201): Fabricut,
    Lamps (“Fresno Lamp” #44087-351): Arteriors,
    Shell (“Giant Clam Shell” #AA841): Ballard Designs,
    Shell shadowbox art: by Jamie Dietrich,
    Lantern (“Large Arch Top Lantern”/Polished Nickel #CHC3425PN): Circa Lighting,
    Rug (“Baltimore”/Seaspray): Stanton Carpet,

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    Foyer Table

    Starfish and sand dollars hang above a console table in the foyer. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Cozy Porch

    Creating beauty and permanence were the goals as McWilliams worked with the Schoens to choose materials and finishes. They decided on 10-inch-wide antique oak plank floors finished with a fuming technique for a hushed and soothing foundation. A mix of horizontal paneling, vertical board-and-batten, and textured panels covers walls, and reclaimed pecky cypress beams in a light, weathered stain enliven the ceiling. 

    Open on three sides, the porch welcomes cross breezes, especially on warm summer days. The cheerful Buoy’s Club painting above the mantel is by North Carolina artist Trip Park. Lantern sconces are from Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights. 

    Painting above fireplace (Buoy’s Club, by Trip Park): Shain Gallery,
    Sofa and lounge chairs (Plantation Collection): Gloster,
    Club-chair fabric (“Zip”/Rainwater); sofa fabric (“Spinnaker”/Sky #425-01-011-60-61): Janus et Cie,
    Accent pillows on sofa (“Stones”/Blueberry #721-213, discontinued): Perennials,
    Dining table top (“54-inch Grc Round Top” #D78-54RG-GRY, Leisure Custom Dining Collection by Century); dining table base (“Trestle Pedestal Base” #D78-802B-CHR, Leisure Custom Dining Collection by Century); chairs (“Jasmine Dining Chairs” #US105-41c, by Lee Industries): Authenteak,
    Dining-chair fabric (“Java”/Delft): Raoul Textiles,
    Lanterns (“Governor Carriage Flush Mount”): Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights,
    Cube table beside sofa: Beau Home Interiors,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Light and Bright Living Room

    The couple wanted to reflect the beauty of the Gulf without overt beach references. “Melanie loves periwinkle, so we started out with deep sky blue,” McWilliams says. That paint hue was then mixed with equal amounts of white “to dial down the intensity for a softer palette that flows throughout,” she adds. In the living room, white linen upholstery provides the backdrop for splashes of blue that appear in various shades on pillows and accessories. Those blue accents add interest to the calm palette.

    Paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-140): Benjamin Moore,
    Sofas (#C3071-03); sofa fabric (“Burbank”/Ivory): Lee Industries, Through Max & Co.,
    Pillows on sofa, front (“Fara”/Verdigris #V3158/07, by Villa Nova); pillows on sofa, flange and back (“Chatham”/Spearmint #V3144/08, by Villa Nova): Romo,
    Swivel club chairs (“XL Miles Swivel Glider Club Chair” #0009 MS); chair fabric (“Easy Seaglass Linen”): Beau Home Interiors,
    Pillows on chairs (“Claremont”/Petrol #V3132/04, by Villa Nova): Romo,
    Area rug (“Bellucci”/Ice): Stark,
    Cocktail table (“Reclaimed Elm Plank Cocktail Table” #F2-FNH8551TL-LE): Bungalow Classic,
    Floor lamp (“Studio Floor Lamp” #TOB1010PN): Circa Lighting,
    Sofa table: custom.
    Lamp on sofa table (#12182): Beau Home Interiors,
    Window treatment fabric, top (“Harndon”/Bone #2781303); window-treatment fabric, middle (“Palambo”/Spa #2884403); window-treatment fabric, bottom (“Palombo”/Oatmeal #2884409): Fabricut,
    Fire screen: discontinued.
    Art over mantel (by Lisa Moore): Lisa Moore Fine Art,  

  • Jean Allsopp

    Clean Kitchen

    Tuned in to the Schoens’ beach lifestyle, McWilliams ensured the kitchen was show-worthy as well. “When family and friends gather at the beach, cooking is an engaging social activity,” she says. With this in mind, the kitchen’s glamorous notes reside front and center. White Thassos marble tile climbs to the 12-foot-high ceiling on the range wall, and a waterjet-cut marble-and-glass design sparkles on the backsplash. The more hardworking elements are relegated to the pantry—out of view but close enough for efficiency.

    A custom hood is centered on a waterjet-cut marble-and-glass tile backsplash. Glass orb pendants were custom-designed for above the island.

    Cabinetry (custom): Design Galleria,
    Range hood: custom.
    Sconces flanking hood (“Grandview Single Light Sconces”/Polished Nickel #A4310): Rejuvenation,
    Laser-cut tile backsplash (custom Waterjet Backsplash in Marble & Glass): Renaissance Tile & Bath,
    Hanging lights (“Vintage Glass Bubble Light” #SM9392AB): South of Market,
    Counter stools (“Campaign Counter Stool” #5206-51): Lee Industries,
    Counter-stool fabric (“Cap Ferrat Weave”/Pebble #65931): Schumacher,
    Wall oven (“E Series 30-inch Single Electric Wall Oven,” by Wolf); steam oven (“E Series Single Convection Steam Wall Oven,” by Wolf); range (“36-inch Dual Fuel Range,” by Wolf); refrigerator (“Bottom Freezer Refrigerator, Custom Panel,” by Sub-Zero); refrigerator drawers (“Compact Refrigerator, Panel Ready,” by Sub-Zero); wine storage (“24-inch Wine Built-In Dual Zone Wine Storage,” by Sub-Zero): Ferguson Bath & Kitchen Gallery,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Dining Room

    The soft blue tones of the Oushak rug inspired the decor, including host chairs covered in a Lee Jofa fabric. The 19th-century buffet is a favorite family piece, while the trestle table of bleached oak is new. 

    Paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149): Benjamin Moore,
    Dining table; area rug (Oushak); chandelier: Beau Home Interiors,
    Host chairs: owner’s collection.
    Host-chair fabric (“Tremoille”/Aqua #2014114.13): Lee Jofa,
    Slipcovered dining side chairs (#C7758-01): Lee Industries,
    Side-chair fabric (“Tremoille Linen”/Natural #2014147.616): Lee Jofa,
    Tape trim on side chairs (“1.5-inch Cambridge Strie Braid”/Glacier Blue #977-34161-15): Samuel & Sons,
    Buffet: antique. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Quaint Office

    Upholstered wall panels soften Melanie’s compact office. A Jane Churchill fabric in shades of blue and white dresses the window and desk chair. 

    Wall paint (“Yarmouth Blue” #HC-150); trim paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149): Benjamin Moore,
    Desk (custom design): T.S. Adams Studio,
    Desk chair: custom.
    Chair and window-shade  fabric (“Amara”/Aqua #J720F/01, by Jane Churchill): Cowtan & Tout,
    Lamp (“Wheaton Lamp” #17540-667): Arteriors,
    Area rug (“Hudson Blue Indoor/Outdoor Rug”): Dash & Albert,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Powder Room

    A pretty mirror with a nautical motif makes a statement in the powder room. The Phillip Jeffries wallcovering continues the blue-and-white palette.

    Paint (“Cloud White” #OC-130): Benjamin Moore,
    Wallcovering (“Imperial Gates”/Dove and Harbor Blue on White Manila Hemp #5192): Phillip Jeffries,
    Mirror: Webb Marsteller,
    Vanity; faucets: Waterworks.

  • Jean Allsopp


    The upstairs playroom continues the home's blue-and-white scheme with added jolts of red. Between the comfy sectional and spacious window seat, there's room for the whole family to gather.

    Sectional sofa (“Barrett Sectional” #1904-82 RAF Sofa with #1904-91 LAF Long Chaise): Wesley Hall,
    Sofa fabric (“Component”/Midnight #5513907): Fabricut,
    Cocktail table; lounge chair: owner’s collection.
    Lounge-chair fabric (“Loire Jute Stripe”/Noir #68691): Schumacher,
    Area rug
    (“Moroccan Tile Flatweave Rug”/Navy #15100867 NAVY): Restoration Hardware,
    Dining table; dining chairs: owner’s collection.
    Light over dining table (“Benjamin Industrial Pendant” #BLE-CC-SBS-PC): Barn Light Electric,
    Folk art painting: by Woodie Long,
    Pillows: custom. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Master Bedroom

    While much of the house centers on sociability, the master suite provides a true retreat. “I kept it neutral and monochromatic and chose the same shade of blue for the bedroom ceiling as the bathroom walls,” McWilliams says. Textured linens and geometrical patterns combine with covered buttons, trim, and ribbons.

    The nailhead-trim headboard creates a sinuous line against the shiplap wall paneling. An Arteriors lamp sits on a nightstand from Gabby. 

    Wall paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149): Benjamin Moore, 
    Bed: custom.
    Bed fabric (“Chatham”/Chrome #V3144/11, by Villa Nova): Romo,
    Drapery (“Boothby”/Mushroom #2886313): Fabricut,
    Drapery trim (“1.5-inch French Grosgrain Ribbon”/Pearl #977-44932-173): Samuel & Sons,
    Area rug (“Muriel”/Light Grey): Stark,
    Nightstands (“Janice Chest of Drawers” #SCH-270305): Gabby,
    Lamps (“Mya Lamp” #49897-359): Arteriors,
    Mirror above bed (“Nouveau Sunburst Mirror” #T11414): Wisteria,
    Bed cover: owner’s collection.
    Duvet, top (“Ambala Paisley”/Fog #174642): Schumacher,
    Duvet, bottom (“Tella”/Flax #2891142): Fabricut,
    Beige pillow shams (“Memphis”/Natural #L8988-01, by Larsen): Cowtan & Tout,
    Lumbar pillow on bed (“Bombay 07” #4756607): Stroheim,
    Trim on lumbar pillow (“Minnesota”/Ivory #L8983-01, by Larsen): Cowtan & Tout,   

  • Jean Allsopp

    Master Bath

    Master bath walls carry a whisper of blue. Underfoot, veining on the white tile adds contrast.

    Paint (“Borrowed Light” #235): Farrow & Ball,
    Trim paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149): Benjamin Moore,
    Cabinetry hardware (“Lugarno Pull”/Polished Nickel 6-inch, #24120466 PM): Restoration Hardware,
    Sconces (“Bryant Sconce” #TOB2002): Circa Lighting,
    Sconce shades (“Minack Check”/Beige #F4143-01, by Colefax and Fowler): Lee Jofa,
    Chandelier seen in mirror (“Darlana Medium Fancy Lantern”/Polished Nickel #CHC2181PN): Circa Lighting,
    Tilework in shower: QTile,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Master Bath

    A polished nickel étagère and soaking tub from Waterworks enhance the bath. A quatrefoil chair from Hickory Chair adds a feminine touch. 

    Paint (“Borrowed Light” #235): Farrow & Ball,
    Trim paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149): Benjamin Moore,
    Soaking tubtub faucetsétagère: Waterworks,
    Window treatment (“Elveden Sheer”/Cinder #V3153/08, by Villa Nova): Romo,
    Side chair (“Alexandra Side Chair” #1516-23, by Suzanne Kasler): Hickory Chair,
    Chair fabric (“Emmeline”/Cream #69120): Schumacher,
    Linens: Matouk,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Guest Bedroom

    An asymmetrical grouping of white porcelain flower plates creates a dramatic focal point above the Noir pencil post bed. The linens introduce a touch of navy. 

    Wall paint (“Misty Blue” #820); ceiling and trim paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149): Benjamin Moore,
    Bed (“Venice Bed”/White Wash #GBED107EKWH): Noir,
    Nightstands (“Ava Nlio/Limed Oak, Mirror): Worlds-Away,
    Lamps (“Roanoke Lamp” #17417-547): Arteriors,
    Wall-mounted decorative flower and platters (“Carnation Wall Flower”/Pearl White #3.30688; “Carnation Platter/Bowl”/Pearl White  #3.30690, #3.30691, #3.30693): Global Views,
    Spindle chair (by Ralph Lauren): owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric (“Ziggurat Reverse”/Navy on Tint #6175-24, by China Seas): Quadrille,
    Mirror (“Cercia Mirror” #MR-2407): Bliss Studio,
    Area rug (“Coleton”/Delft, Lancaster Collection): Lee Jofa,
    Duvet and pillows (“Java”/Indigo #JRL 71-09): John Robshaw,
    Coverlet: Gramercy,
    Drapery (“Palombo 11” #2886211): Fabricut,
    Drapery trim (#2.5-inch Matilde Embroidered Border”/Gulf #977-55060-16): Samuel & Sons,

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    Bunk Room

    The bunk room is ready for sleepovers with one full-size bed and five twins. 

    Paint (“Decorator’s White “ #OC-149): Benjamin Moore,
    Hanging light (“Rope Net Glass Sphere Chandelier” #CH14096A): Shades of Light,
    Built-in beds: Corestruction,
    Area rug (“Bo Blue Woven Cotton Rug”): Dash & Albert,
    Drapery (“Cross Wind Plaid”/Oyster Cream #LCF65841F.RL, by Ralph Lauren Home): Kravet, Available through Ralph Lauren Home,
    Bed cover (“Fisherman’s Quilt”/Aqua); bed linens (“Trellis Sheet Set”/Aqua): Serena & Lily,
    Throw pillows (“Principal”/Mist #5435631; “Principal”/Mushroom #5435601): Fabricut,
    Wicker basket: (“Bryce Wicker Trunk” #103974NATL): RH Baby & Child,
    Sconces by beds (“Nauticus”/Silver #20290-SAT)): Masterpiece Lighting,
    Porthole-style mirror: antique.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Bunk Bathroom

    The underside of a Kohler trough sink is painted Benjamin Moore’s “Pale Avocado.” 

    Paint on underside of sink (“Pale Avocado” #2146-40): Benjamin Moore,
    Wall tile: Q Tile,
    Sink: Kohler,
    Wall sconces (“New Canaan”/Polished Nickel #6501-PN): Hudson Valley Lighting,
    Round mirror (“Hudson Mirror” #MT1382): All Modern,
    Arrow clothes hooks (“Cast Anchor Hooks” #NRS1081): Kalalou,

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    Sand Room

    The home includes plenty of practical features despite its grand scale and elegant finishes. “Every beach house needs a sand room,” McWilliams insists.

    This informal side entry is easily accessible to the outdoor shower—another necessity at any summer house. Custom cabinetry and lockers painted aqua offer a jolt of color, and rope cabinet pulls add to the nautical feel.  

    Melanie walks into a side entry, outfitted with cubbies painted Benjamin Moore’s “Heaven on Earth.”

    Wall paint (“Decorator’s White” #OC-149); built-in shelving paint (“Heaven on Earth” #1661): Benjamin Moore,
    Cabinet (custom): Corestruction,
    Beach hats: Barbara Cobb Sunhats,  

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    Beach House Necessity

    Behind a blue door, an outdoor shower is tucked under the stairway. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Family Portrait

    The Schoens’ home invites unwinding and enjoying all the beach has to offer, but also exudes relaxed elegance in a design that shines with undiminished style. Their house has quickly become a favorite destination for holidays and family gatherings as well as a place where memories are made. “Our son Will learned to ride his bike around Sandhill Circle,” Melanie says. “That in itself is reason enough for a place at WaterColor.”

    Schoen family: front row—Emily and Molly Schoen; middle row—Mary Lauren Garrison (piggyback), Connor Garrison, Stephen Schoen, Andrew Barge; back row—Melanie, Will, and Stephen Schoen Jr. 

  • Werner Straube