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Spacious Home with Seaside Palette

Designer Georgia Carlee delivers a fresh take for a year-round Gulf Coast retreat

Written and produced by Eleanor Lynn Nesmith
  • Jean Allsopp

    Front porches make for all types of friendly encounters. And sometimes they are a starting point for long-term professional associations. More than a decade ago, as Jacqueline and Robb Brown were settling into a cottage in the Gulf Coast resort of WaterColor, Florida, the couple admired a unique swinging bed on a neighbor’s sleeping porch. A few days later, Robb met the designer of the house by chance and inquired about the daybed. The designer was Georgia Carlee. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Carlee helped the Browns with finishing touches for their first cottage. Soon after, Jacqueline and Robb found a slightly larger house in the neighborhood, and again turned to Carlee for design advice. “We hit it off immediately, and everything came together just as I imagined,” Jacqueline says.  The second house was such a success that it made the cover of Traditional Home in June 2008.

    Nelly, one of the family’s two French Bulldogs, greets guests on the front porch.

    Photography: Jean Allsopp

    Architect: Timothy Adams, T.S. Adams Studio Architects, 5281 E. County Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/231-4631, and 2969 Hardman Court N.E., Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/262-3499, tsadamsstudio.com
    Interior designer: Georgia Carlee, GCI Design, P.O. Box 1227, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/217-8155, gcarlee.com.   

    Sign over doorway: Pottery Barn, potterybarn.com.
    Chair (“Rocker in White Wash” #N112-014): Uwharrie Chair Co., uwharriechair.com.
    Pillow on chair: owner’s collection.
    Area rug (“Birch”/Aqua #BIH03, Coastal Living Collection): Jaipur Rugs, jaipurrugs.com.
    Cocktail table: found architectural fragment.

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    Beachy Living Room

    The Ohio-based Browns started vacationing in northwest Florida when their two daughters were young. Now both girls have graduated from college—Devan lives in Nashville and Brennan in Manhattan—and the beach is where they gather for holidays and vacations.

    Shells are displayed in shadow boxes hung in a niche in the living room; sofa and ottoman are from Lee Industries. Salvaged brackets and plank walls add charm to the new home. 

    Wall paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Ceiling finish (custom stain): Minwax, minwax.com.
    Art in niche; table between lounge chairs: owner’s collection.
    Sofa (#C2450-44); sofa fabric (“Hillstone Sand”); ottoman (#L9456-90); ottoman leather (“Summit Fennel”): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.
    Round table beside sofa (“Axle Table”): BoBo Intriguing Objects, bobointriguingobjects.com.
    Lamp on  round table (iron): antique.
    Area rug: Jaipur Rugs, jaipurrugs.com
    Art above mantel: Beau Interiors, beauhomeinteriors.com.
    Pair of blue-and-white ceramic stools (“Inlaid Shell Hourglass Stool/Table” #6329-79): Palecek, palecek.com.
    Drapery (Linen, in Snow, Marine and Putty): custom design by GCI Design, gcarlee.com.
    Patterned pillows: owner’s collection.
    Sand-colored pillow (“Studded Pillow”): Jamie Young, jamieyoung.com.
    Blinds: woven wood.  

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    Desk Nook

    Looking toward the future and possible grandchildren, the couple decided a few years ago to design house number three—their forever Florida home. “We loved the Southern charm and small-town hospitality of WaterColor,” Jacqueline says. “But our house was on a busy street, so we jumped at the chance to build from the ground up on a larger and more private lot overlooking Western Lake.”

    One wall of the living area is devoted to an office nook. Fabric curtains create a sense of enclosure.

    Desk (“Hughes Desk” #CIMP-E6-BP): Four Hands, fourhands.com
    Desk chair (#C5223-41C); white desk chair fabric (“Starnes Organic White”): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.

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    Pretty Sitting Room

    Carlee worked with architect Timothy Adams from the outset to tweak the floor plans. She had recently completed the design of the couple’s full-time residence in Toledo, Ohio, and so had a solid understanding of the family’s needs and preferences. 

    “Since we first met, Jacqueline’s style has evolved, but there were things she really loved about the old house and wanted to re-create,” Carlee says. So before the Browns put their previous Florida house on the market, they pulled a few personal items to take to the new abode. “We knew the shadow box collection of the shells would be displayed in a prominent place.” Carlee also designed an updated version of the tri-colored panel curtains with different proportions and shades of white, blue, and brown. 

    The large main level is defined by various furniture groupings, including this seating area that creates a gracious link between the main living and dining  areas. The home’s seaside palette is exemplified by the tri-colored curtain panels with broad horizontal stripes of sandy brown, sky blue, and cloud white. 

    Sofa (“Slipcovered Sofa” #C1296-03); sofa fabric (“Starnes Organic White” and “Hillstone Sand”); blue-patterned pillows (“Tortoise Navy” with “Sheer Flax” flange): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.
    “Beach House” pillow: owner’s collection.
    Pair of chairs (“President’s Lounge Chair” #7740-32,
     discontinued); chair fabric (“Oatmeal Matka” #72); coffee table (“Bar Harbor Coffee Table” #7569-37, discontinued): Palecek, palecek.com.
    End tables (“Belmont Shadow Box End Table” #VBEL-F039): Four Hands, fourhands.com.
    Area rug (“Nuance” #NU-01): Jaipur Rugs, jaipurrugs.com.
    Shelves flanking sofa (architectural fragments: custom.
    Lamps (“Clark Table Lamp” #1CLAR-TLAQ): Jamie Young, jamieyoung.com.
    Bar stools (“Chevron Riviera Stools”): Serena & Lily, serenaandlily.com

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    Staging Area

    The design and construction took two years, allowing Jacqueline time to procure unique pieces and old materials. “Jacqueline loves to explore antiques shops and salvage yards,” Carlee says.  “But we had an agreement that she would send a photo before she bought anything.” Jacqueline’s pursuits turned up items as varied as a vintage newel post, a distressed section of fence that became a headboard, and wide-plank wood floors reclaimed from a 19th-century Illinois courthouse. 

    “We didn’t always know where my finds would go, but as the house neared completion, Georgia found the perfect spot for everything,” Jacqueline says. “She encouraged me to make the house my own, but all the while she was adding her unique touches.” 

    A painting by Sherry Sandquist hangs above a blue table. The side door offers access to biking trails and a lake; hooks accommodate hats, dog leashes, and other go-to gear. 

    Table (“Olga Bookcase” #1611): Old Biscayne Designs, oldbiscaynedesigns.com.
    Chandelier (custom): BoBo Intriguing Objects, bobointriguingobjects.com.
    Lamps on table (“Bingley Buffet lamps” #351518): Guildmaster, guildmaster.com.
    Painting: by Sherry Sandquist, sherryfloydsandquist.com.
    Shell tray: Lowcountry Originals, lowcountryoriginals.net.
    Hooks by back door: Anthropologie, anthropologie.com.   

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    Southern Charm

    Their new home is an update on a Southern farmhouse, sited to take advantage of the corner lot as well as the nearby wooded bike trail and views of the lake. To create an inviting scale for the relatively large house, the architect broke up the massing into a main structure and a semi-attached carriage house with a two-car garage. Balconies, dormers, shutters, and a metal roof animate the exterior, while natural materials, salvaged architectural fragments, and handcrafted details enhance the open and inviting interiors.   

    A metal roof and a mix of horizontal planks and shakes animate the exterior. 

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    Dining Area

    A vacation home allows for a more casual layout of rooms, yet this lakefront retreat was never intended to be a modest structure.  Interiors marry the best aspects of a contemporary plan with thoughtful furniture placement defining individual functions. Rooms open one to the other with a welcoming intimacy and a sense of balance. The center of social living is one grand space along the back of the house, where congregating, dining, and cooking clearly signal a spirit of hospitality.

    A built-in window seat combines with a mix of slipcovered Lee Industries armchairs and Palecek side chairs at the table. The rope-covered “Luigi” chandelier by Solaria Lighting creates a focal point. 

    Table (“Kim Dining Table”/Driftwood finish #4195B): Old Biscayne Designs, oldbiscaynedesigns.com.
    Host chairs (“Slipcovered Chair #5213-41); chair fabric, white (“Starnes Organic White”); chair fabric, taupe (“Sheer Flax”): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.
    Dining side chairs (“Lyon Cane Square Back Side Chair” #7405-21); fabric (“JM Arrowhead” #2G): Palecek, palecek.com.
    Chandelier (“Luigi Chandelier” #9030, by Solaria Lighting): available from Interior HomeScapes, interiorhomescapes.com.
    Area rug (“Meridian Seagrass” with cornflower blue border): Merida, meridastudio.com.
    Wall paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Cabinetry (custom): Matt Fuller, Kay Fuller & Sons, kayfullerandsons.com.
    Cabinetry hardware (“Prismatic Spring Pull”): Anthropologie, anthropologie.com.
    Pair of mirrors: antique.
    Art above mirrors: by Allison Wickey, allisonwickey.com.
    Pillows on banquette (“Tortoise Navy” with “Sheer Flax” flange): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.

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    Blue-and-White Kitchen

    For finishes and furnishings throughout, Carlee and Jacqueline worked in tandem. Their palette is a pleasing canvas of varied shades of blues, creams, and soft browns. Rooms resonate with a mood that is both refined Old World and refreshingly modern. 

    The main level is one large, open space, with kitchen, living, and dining areas. The linear island carves out an efficient galley-style kitchen and provides bar seating on sporty Serena & Lily stools. A trio of oyster-shell pendants nods to the coastal setting.

    Paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    abinetry (custom): Matt Fuller, Kay Fuller & Sons, kayfullerandsons.com.
    Cabinetry hardware (“Bin” pull and knobs): Restoration Hardware, rh.com.
    Countertop: quartzite. Island sink; island bridge faucet: Rohl, rohlhome.com.
    Range: Wolf, subzero-wolf.com.
    Refrigerator; range hood: Sub-Zero, subzero-wolf.com.
    Range hood (customized to match island): Matt Fuller, Kay Fuller & Sons, kayfullerandsons.com.
    Backsplash tiles: concrete.
    Hanging lights over island (“Shell Drum” #LCO-015-04): Lowcountry Originals, lowcountryoriginals.net.
     
    Bar stools (“Chevron Riviera Stools”): Serena & Lily, serenaandlily.com.
    Console table behind sofa: antique.
    Ottoman under console (“Slipcovered Stool Ottoman” #C9416-00); ottoman fabric (“Tortoise Navy”): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.  

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    Soothing Master Bedroom

    Striped bed curtains relax a modern metallic-finish canopy bed from Oly. A chevron-patterned rug laid over a sisal rug adds a second layer of texture and comfort. Comfortable chairs at the foot of the bed provide a space to read or watch TV.

    Area rug (“Wild Chev”/Stone #725): Capel Rugs, capelrugs.com.
    Paint: Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com. Bed (“Morgan”): Oly, olystudio.com.
    Duvet and shams (“Linen Whisper”/White): Bella Notte Linens, bellanottelinens.com.
    Bedside tables (“Curved Front Side Table” #GTAB290VGR): Noir, noirfurniturela.com
    Table lamps (“Regina Andrew Modern White Conch Lamp” #22-7528): Arcadian Home, arcadianhome.com.
    Mirrors (“Shell Oval Mirror” #LCO-M77): Lowcountry Originals, lowcountryoriginals.net.
    Art above bed: Beau Interiors, beauhomeinteriors.com.
    Drapery and striped pillow (“Honfleur Linen”): Pine Cone Hill, pineconehill.com.
    Pair of lounge chairs (“Slipcovered Swivel Chair” #C1935-01SW); lounge-chair fabric (“Umbria Ivory”): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.
    Bench at left (“Apothecary Bench” #51109G4): Furniture Classics, furnitureclassics.com.

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    Master Bath

    The soothing coastal color scheme carries in to the bathroom. A soaking tub rests between a pair of matching vanities.

    Wall paint (“Pale Smoke” #1584): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Chandelier: owner’s collection.
    Cabinetry (custom): Matt Fuller, Kay Fuller & Sons, kayfullerandsons.com.
    Cabinetry hardware (“Bin”/Satin Nickel pulls and knobs): Restoration Hardware, rh.com.
    Bathtub (“York,” Traditional Collection): Victoria + Albert, vandabaths.com.
    Hamper: owner’s collection.  

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    Playful Guest Room

    Two built-in beds in a third-level loft room are outfitted with heavy ropes that create the playful illusion of swinging beds. 

    Wall paint (“Woodlawn Blue” #HC-147): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Daybeds on ropes (custom): Charles Phillips Antiques, charlesphillipsantiques.com.
    Striped duvet (“Coastal Stripe”/Pool, colorway discontinued): West Elm, westelm.com.
    Decorative pillows: owner’s collection.
    Tiered bench at window: antique.
    Rope table lamp (discontinued): Serena & Lily, serenaandlily.com.
    Art: Beau Interiors, beauhomeinteriors.com.
    Checked blankets on bench: owner’s collection.

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    Daughter's Room

    A swinging chair from Serena and Lily offers a perfect perch to take in the view of the lake. The one-of-a-kind headboard was crafted from old farm fencing. 

    Bed (crafted from repurposed fence): custom.
    Rug: owner’s collection.
    Duvet and bed skirt (“Linen Whisper”): Bella Notte Linens, bellanottelinens.com.
    Bed cover and pillow sham: owner’s collection. 
    Pillows with mother of pearl beads; throw on bed: Beau Interiors, beauhomeinteriors.com.
    Hanging chair (“ Hanging Rattan Chair”): Serena & Lily, serenaandlily.com.
    Bedside table: Furniture Classics, furnitureclassics.com.
    Table lamp (“Regina Andrew Jute Table Lamp”): Layla Grace, laylagrace.com.
    Drapery (“Emery Linen/Cotton Drape”/White): Pottoery Barn, potterybarn.com.
    Wall paint (“Woodlawn Blue” #HC-147); ceiling paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Fan: Minka Aire, minkagroup.com.
    Shell drapery trim
    (“Driftwood Garland” #0015): Kalalou, kalalou.com
    Shutters (antique mirrored gate and shutters redesigned and upholstered dto be a  king headboard): GCI Desigbn, gcarlee.com.  

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    Daughter's Room

    The other daughter's room opens up to the second-floor screen porch, which overlooks the lake. 

    Wall paint (“Gray Owl” #2137-60);: Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Headboard (“Nicholas”); fabric (quilted linen):  Legacy Home, legacylinens.com.
    Bed-skirt fabric (“Linen Voile”); bed linens: Pom Pom At Home, pompomathome.com.
    Bedside table (discontinued): Furniture Classics, furnitureclassics.com.
    Hanging light (discontinued): BoBo Intriguing Objects, bobointriguingobjects.com.
    Drapery (“Emery Linen/Cotton”/White): Pottery Barn, potterybarn.com.
    Area rug (“Kasbah Star”/Natural #1925): Capel Rugs, capelrugs.com.
    Chair (“Slipcovered Swivel Chair” #C3621-01SW); chair fabric (“Stonewash Belize Natural”): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.
    Table in front of chair: antique.
    Chest at end of bed: owner’s collection.
    Art above bed (local artist, purchased at watercolor art show): owner’s collection. 

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    Second-Floor Porch

    Furniture from Summer Classics caters to comfort on a second-level porch. The curtains and rug help create the feeling of a true outdoor room. 

    Wicker furniture; cocktail table; (all from Summer Classics, discontinued); throw pillows; lanterns on table: owner’s collection.
    Furniture cushions (“Dupione Sand” #76): Summer Classics, summerclassics.com.
    Round end table (“Oscar Side Table”): BoBo Intriguing Objects, bobointriguingobjects.com.
    Area rug: Jaipur Rugs, jaipurrugs.com.
    Drapery (Sunbrella fabric); drapery tiebacks: custom, GCI Design, gcarlee.com.  

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    Pool Area

    From the start, the Browns planned to sell the previous house completely furnished and start fresh, but for sentimental reasons they planned to keep the painted bench that had graced the cover of Traditional Home. When the new buyers discovered the bench wasn’t part of the deal, they were so dismayed they almost bowed out of the sale. Carlee came to the rescue, however, finding a woodworker to replicate the bench—right down to the bold painted stripes—so both families now have one. Another happy household in the sunny Florida panhandle.

    An elevated deck is large enough to accommodate sunbathers. The artisan-painted bench is one of the few items the family moved from their previous Florida home.  

    Wicker sofa and chairs; pillows ;umbrella; table with painted stripes; outdoor grill; lanterns on cabinet; lounge chairs by pool: owner’s collection. 

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    Family Portrait

    Homeowners Jacqueline (holding French Bulldog Abigail) and Robb Brown with their daughters Devan (holding Nelly) and Brennan. 

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  • Colleen Duffley