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Florida Vacation Home with Casual Style

With a casual tone befitting a vacation home, this Florida retreat balances family fun and coastal sophistication   

Written and produced by Eleanor Lynn Nesmith
  • Jean Allsopp

    The first time Kristin and Robert Gauntt visited the Florida Panhandle, they weren’t even on vacation. Nevertheless, they were immediately taken by the sugar-white sand and emerald water of the Gulf of Mexico. “We were driving from Houston to New York City for Robert to start a new job, and a friend offered us a condo on the beach,” Kristin says. “It was just going to be a stop along the way to break up the trip.” 

    Little did they know that 25 years later they would be building their dream vacation home along that same stretch of coastline. “On that first visit, there were only a few houses in Seaside,” Robert says. “The whole area was so picturesque, and the memories stayed with us.”   

    Several years after their first visit, Kristin and Robert were again living in Houston, raising three sons, and regularly vacationing in Florida. “When our boys were in junior high school, 30A was the only place they wanted to be for spring break,” Kristin says with a laugh. 

    Five years ago, the parents decided the kids were right: The resort town of WaterColor on Florida State Route 30A was the place to build a getaway for every season. They soon found a choice corner lot backing up to Point Washington State Forest. 

    The front porch, with its James Hardie shingle siding, displays a welcoming presence along the street. 

    Photography: Jean Allsopp

    Architecture: Principal designers, John and Don Thurber, Thurber & Voigt, LLC, 497 Serenoa Rd., Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/534-0338.
    Interior designer: Georgia Carlee, GCI Design, P.O. Box 1227, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/217-8155,
    Landscape designer: Chad Horton, Horton Land Works, Destin, FL; 850/699-1297,
    Builder: Jason Romair and Bob Beaver, Romair Homes, 19 Montclair Ave., Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/231-0840,   

    Exterior siding (“HardieShingle Siding”): James Hardie,
    Paint (custom): Romair Homes,
    Adirondack chairs (product line varies): Sundance,
    Small table; oyster wreath: owner’s collection.
    Light fixtures: Carolina Lanterns & Lighting,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Beach Retreat

    They got to work creating a haven, a getaway at the beach that’s a departure from everyday life in town. On vacation, it’s all about good times with family and friends. Interior designer Georgia Carlee and the architecture firm of Thurber & Voigt joined forces to deliver the couple a second home with a pleasing mix of rustic charm and urbane flair.    

    Responsive to Florida’s landscape, vernacular architecture, and 30A’s coastal lifestyle, the U-shape plan carves out a large pool terrace and a variety of outdoor rooms, making the most of the privacy afforded by neighboring protected state land. “The design pays homage to the adjacent piney woods, Western Lake, and of course, the Gulf of Mexico,” John Thurber says. 

    Approachable, familiar, and a good neighbor along the pedestrian-friendly street, the three-story house features graceful proportions, a welcoming scale, and old-world craftsmanship. Cedar shakes and horizontal paneling, rounded balcony rooflines, louvered shutters, a traditional metal roof, and overscale brackets animate the exterior and celebrate the nautical address.  

    The three-story house offers a fanciful take on a Texas farmhouse and plays to outdoor living with covered porches in a variety of scales.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Natural Textures

    The design was a collaboration every step of the way. From the beginning Carlee worked closely with the architect and the Gauntts. A second home allows for a more casual layout of rooms, yet this family getaway was never intended to be a modest cottage. It’s a great big happy family home. The sheltered front porch presents a congenial first impression with the front door opening to the main living area. Two sets of French doors offer additional direct access to the kitchen and dining area.  

    Antique doors frame the entrance to the den/TV room.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Cozy Den

    Interiors marry the best aspects of a contemporary plan where changes in materials, varied ceiling heights, and furniture placement spell out individual functions, all the while stretching out with welcoming ease. 

    Striped curtains lend warmth to the room’s tall windows. A slipcovered sofa, love seat, and chair from Lee Industries offer comfortable seating. 


    Walls: pecky cypress.
    Ceiling paint: custom mix.
    Trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Blinds: Horizons Window Fashions,
    Drapery (“Passos”/Natural #7339/02, discontinued): Romo,
    Area rug (#PV16, discontinued): Jaipur Living,
    Sofa (“Slipcovered Sofa” #C5285-03); love seat (“Slipcovered Apartment Sofa” #C5285-11): chair (“Slipcovered Chair” #C1747-41C); slipcover fabric (“Spinnaker”/Salt): Lee Industries,
    Pillows (custom): Interior Detailers, 850/622-2088.
    Cocktail table (“Hamilton Coffee Table” #DOV5050); round end table in corner (“Valerie Side Table” DOV2512): Dovetail Furniture,
    End table in foreground; large shell bowl in built-in: Smith’s Antiques & Interiors Market,
    Table lamp: owner’s collection.
    Art: Beau Home Interiors,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Gray Kitchen

    The kitchen anchors one end of the grand communal space. It’s defined by an opening framed with rough-hewn beams. “The tall vaulted ceiling adds volume, while the white brick wall and overscale range hood create a dramatic focal point,” Carlee says. 

    The space is symmetrical. “I like to establish balance in a large space,” the designer says. She opened up the corner cabinets for visual relief.  

    Front and center in the large communal living space, the kitchen features a generous island and an efficient galley-style work area, plus casual seating. A pecky cypress hood crowns the Wolf range. Antique brick painted white adds texture and warmth to the walls.

    Wall paint (custom): Romair Homes,
    Cabinetry (Gulf South Cabinetry); cabinet finish (custom); range hood (pecky cypress): Gulf South Kitchen Design,
    Countertop: soapstone.
    Backsplash: brick.
    Window treatment: custom.
    Range: Wolf,
    Island sink: Romair Homes,
    Island faucets: Rohl,
    Counter stools (“Slipcovered Swivel Counter Stool” #C5983-51SW); counter-stool fabric (“Duck White”): Lee Industries,
    Pendant lights: Romair Homes,
    Microwave: Sharp,
    Antique hanging door fragments (found object): vintage.
    Cowhide cube ottoman: owner’s collection. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Dining Area

    A tall fireplace crafted of the same white brick as the kitchen anchors the conversation area and creates a pleasing sense of continuity. Deep, comfortable slipcovered seating pieces and an oversize table form an inviting gathering spot and make perfect sense for an active family with three sons. 

    The dining area’s large farm table from Clubcu easily accommodates up to 10 people. Floors are reclaimed white oak. 

    Flooring (reclaimed white oak): Jaime Kolb Enterprises, 850/622-3320.
    Paint (custom) Romair Homes,
    Window drapery (“Cellini”/Dusk #7454/09): Romo,
    Chandelier (“Large Ark Oval Basket” #LCO-019-LG OVAL): Low Country Originals,
    Dining table (“Salvaged Wood Trestle Table” #F2-FN144434): Clubcu,
    Host chairs (“Slipcovered High Back Campaign Chair” #C5203-41C); host chair fabric (“Duck White”); trim (“Dylan Cloud,” discontinued): Lee Industries,
    Wicker side chairs (“Navy Dining Arm Chair”/Coastal Grey #7152-37): Palecek,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Beachy Living Room

    Responding to the Gauntts’ Texas roots, interiors lean toward earthy and muted rather than beachy and bright. “I like details and layers, but I don’t like fussy,” Carlee says. “We tried to create a ‘coastal industrial’ feel with subtle neutrals, textured finishes, and natural cottons and linens.” The color palette takes a decided turn toward grays, greens, browns, and creams, with a few splashes of soft blue.

    Just as the distinctions between architecture and interiors merge, so do the lines between inside and out melt away. Two large banks of contemporary glass folding doors open up to engage a series of outdoor rooms where gracious living abounds.

    The house features one large and open main space perfect for relaxed living at the beach. Folding glass doors open to the back porch and pool area. A built-in bar forms a functional focal point. Furniture is arranged to define each area, but everything is open and bright. 

    Wall paint (custom): Romair Homes,
    Flooring (reclaimed white oak): Jaime Kolb Enterprises, 850/622-3320.
    Window drapery (“Cellini”/Dusk #7454/09); drapery to bar area (“Kintore”/Stone #7620/23): Romo,
    Sofa (“Slipcovered Two Cushion Sofa” #C7922/32); chairs (“Slipcovered Chair” #C5287/01); sofa and chair fabric (“Duck White”): Lee Industries,
    Blue pillows on chairs: Smith’s Antiques & Interiors Market,
    Lumbar pillows on chairs (custom); pillows on sofa (custom): Interior Detailers, 850/622-2088.
    Table behind sofa (“Matthes Console Table” #VFH-027); cocktail table (“Great Job Peter Table” #CVT-319): Four Hands,
    Area rug (“Nostalgia” #NS06, discontinued): Jaipur Living,
    Art above fireplace: owner’s collection.
    Rope side table (“Monarch Side Table” #6354-01): Palecek,
    Lamp on rope table (“Edaline Lamp” #44105-272): Arteriors,
    Mirror (“Round Mirror with Metal Frame” #CQ6222): Kalalou,
    Bar cabinets; hardware: Gulf South Kitchen Design,
    Finish on bar cabinets: custom.
    Countertop: soapstone.
    Sinkbar faucet: Romair Homes,
    Chandelier by bar area (“Yale Chandelier” #86762, discontinued): Arteriors,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Powder Room

    Tabby walls crafted of oyster shells combine with a contemporary concrete sink.

    Wall treament (custom); light fixture: Romair Homes,
    Countertop and sink: The Concrete Farmer, 205/790-1481.
    Faucet: Rohl,
    Mirror (custom): Romair Homes,
    Waste basket: owner’s collection. 

  • Jean Allsopp


    Two vintage modern chairs pair with a distressed wooden trunk at the stairway landing. A large mounted mirror reflects natural light. The railings feature cattle fencing and textured wood posts. 

    Chairs (vintage); chest (vintage); mirror: owner’s collection.
    Wall sconces: Romair Homes,
    Paint: custom. Bunk room seating area

  • Jean Allsopp

    Master Bedroom

    Kristin and Robert chose an upstairs bedroom with a deep back porch. A pair of wicker chairs from Palecek at the foot of the bed make a spot for reading or watching television. Two sets of French doors swing open to a porch overlooking the pool terrace. 

    Wall paintceiling and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    King bed (“Square Headboard with Rails,” nailheads added); bed fabric (“Serengeti”/Natural): Lee Industries,
    Pattern on three pillow shams (“Pinstripe Linen”/Dove Gray); bed cover (“Pinstripe Linen”/Dove Gray): Pine Cone Hill,
    Pair of blue pillows on bed: Pom Pom at Home,
    Lumbar pillow on bed (“Seville Grey Double Boudoir Pillow”): Bliss Home & Design,
    Drapery (“Oasis Stripe”/Dove #M307/04, by Mark Alexander): Romo,
    Bedside tables (“QS Oxford 2 Drawer Side Table” #GTAB246WEA): Noir,
    Table lamps (“Lambeth Table Lamp” #6000-047): Currey & Co.,
    Area rug (“Verve Frost Gray Polyester Rug” #VR05, discontinued): Jaipur Living,
    Mirrors above bed (“Square Driftwood Mirror” #PFL1002, discontinued): Kalalou,
    Art above bed (by Elizabeth Chapman): Beau Home Interiors,
    Wicker chairs (“Hampton Lounge Chair” #7184); cushion fabric: Palecek,
    Lumbar pillows in chairs: Pom Pom at Home,
    Table between chairs (“Recycled Mahogany Table” #F240, by Roost, discontinued): MapleNest,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Light-Filled Hall

    Connecting with nature—whether drinking morning coffee on the porch off the master suite, soaking up sun by the pool, or taking long views toward the setting sun from the third-floor loft tower—is a luxury to be embraced and encouraged. This home celebrates its setting and savors the joys of time spent with family and friends at the beach.

    Window seats in the upstairs hall take advantage of the views.

    Wall paint: ceiling and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Striped rug (“Pura Vida” #PV21, discontinued): Jaipur Living,
    Mirror (“Nepalese Pulley Mirror” #FM112, by Roost, discontinued): Modish,
    Stools: owner’s collection.
    Cupboard (custom); chests (custom): Gulf South Kitchen Design,
    Cushions on chests (custom): Interior Detailers, 850/622-2088.
    Artwork (by Justin Gaffrey): Justin Gaffrey Gallery,

  • Jean Allsopp


    Antique doors on tracks slide closed to partition the loft living area from the bunk room. 

    Doors (antique): The Bank Antiques,
    Wall paint above stair rail: custom.
    Wall paint below stair rail (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Sofa (#C5481-03); sofa fabric (“Boomer White”): Lee Industries,
    Pillow on sofa: Smith’s Antiques & Interiors Market,
    Cocktail table (“Beckwourth Coffee Table” #VFH-024, by Four Hands): Furnitureland South,
    Poufs (#3304, discontinued): Dovetail Furniture,
    Area rug (“Ashwood” #BL89): Jaipur Living,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Bunk Room

    An open and sunny bunk room houses two sets of queen bunk beds. Built-in pullout drawers provide storage space. 

    Beds (custom): Romair Homes,
    Area rug (“Scandinavia Nordic”): Jaipur Living,
    Blinds: Horizons Window Fashions,
    Table under window (antique); upholstered ottoman under table: owner’s collection.
    Table lamp (“Stacked Horn Table Lamp” #1STAC-TLO): Jamie Young,  

  • Jean Allsopp

    Back Porch

    A deep back porch accommodating alfresco dining and a seating area steps down to a pool terrace and a shuttered cabana with built-in seating.  Nestled against the forest, another seating area centers on a television placed above a fireplace. “It’s everybody’s favorite spot to watch football in the fall,” Kristin says.  

    The swinging daybed was crafted of old barn doors.

    Swinging bed (found object): owner’s collection.
    Striped bed cushions; blue pillows: Sunbrella,
    Patterned pillows on bed: custom.
    Pair of chairs (“Barlow Dining Chair” #DOV3312); slipcovers (beige linen): Dovetail Furniture, Available through Furnitureland South,
    Cocktail table: Smith’s Antiques,
    Side table (“Telescope Table” by Van Thiel & Co., discontinued): Four Hands,
    Cowhide rug: owner’s collection.
    Art over fireplace (by Elizabeth Chapman): Beau Home Interiors,
    Mantel corbels (found objects): vintage

  • Jean Allsopp


    The pool, outfitted with comfy chaise longues from Frontgate, is surrounded by a series of outdoor rooms. 

    Paving (“Butt Joint Random Pattern”/Rice White, with custom pieces around the fireplace and pool coping): Peacock Pavers,
    Fire pit (custom): Romair Homes,
    Chaise lounges by pool (“Balencia”): Frontgate,
    Adirondack chairs by fire pit (Original Collection, in Olive Gray #1011-P81): Uwharrie Chair Co.,
    Fabric on patterned pillows on Adirondack chairs; on blue pillows on Adirondack chairs; on striped cushions on concrete bench; on pale blue pillows on bench: Sunbrella,
    Fabrication: Interior Detailers, 850/622-2088.
    Chairs in seating area under canopy (“Croquet Teak Lounge Chair” #2837); chair cushions (“Classic Linen” by Sunbrella): Summer Classics,
    Coffee table: found item. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Family Portrait

    Summer fun in their vintage Bronco awaits the Gauntt family: sons Tyler and Turner, parents Kristin and Robert, son Travis and his wife, Lizzy. 

  • Colleen Duffley