A Stay by the Bay

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Text by Lauren Eberle / Photography by John O’Hagan

An Alabama couple crafts a beautiful bayside getaway filled with rich woods and waterfront charm.

Raised by their respective parents who were dear friends, Gaines and Linda Thomas have known each other all their lives. Their happiest childhood memories were filled with bayside vacations, and when the couple was older, they began to dream of having a home here. Their wish became reality when the Thomases purchased their vacation bungalow, only to be dashed in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan’s path.

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Holding fast to their memories of this special place, the couple decided to rebuild on the property, re-creating much of the design of their former getaway but expanding it to accommodate a growing family.

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Collaborating with builder Billy Eubank and designer Libba Lyon, the couple crafted a vacation home to suit their style of living. “We wanted a place where people want to be—without creating a place too pretty to mess up,” Linda recalls.

The result is a stunning open-flow ode to life on the Mobile Bay, complete with striking design elements such as all-wood floors, ceilings, and walls and plenty of room for family and friends. “Coming here isn’t just going to the beach,” Linda promises. “It’s about my childhood; it’s about my husband’s childhood. It’s about our children, and it’s about our future generations.”

The guest rooms brim with loved ones. To make them feel most welcome, Linda chose soothing hues of blues and greens reminiscent of the waterfront setting. Stay by the BayStay by the Bay10

This functional yet company-friendly kitchen offers generous island seating, gorgeous dark-green granite countertops, an antique pantry, a striking copper hood, and a collection of accessories ranging from family heirlooms to bright “had to have them” vases.Stay by the Bay2Stay by the Bay1Stay by the Bay6

Gorgeous cypress wood was the solution for hiding unsightly pilings in this downstairs foyer. Designer Libba Lyon took the plan a step further, marrying function and style by creating unique cubbyholes, arches, lighting, and drawers.Stay by the Bay8