Breezy Gulf Coast Retreat

Text by Eleanor Lynn Nesmith

See how this design team infused Old-World elements into a new coastal cottage to find harmony between relaxed and gracious living.

With a fresh translation of traditional precedents and a decidedly coastal flair, this Gulf Coast cottage features a welcoming scale, poised proportions, and Old-World craftsmanship. Interior designer Georgia Carlee and architect Matthew Savoie teamed up to strike a balance between a laid-back beach vibe and gracious refinement for Patty and Kevin Kabat’s inviting beach house in WaterColor, Florida.

Photography by Jean Allsopp

Like many beach houses along Scenic 30-A, the main floor is hoisted up to capture the breezes, afford privacy, and take advantage of the views of both Western Lake and the Gulf of Mexico. Its congenial charm unfolds immediately with a cloistered screen porch that doubles as a true outdoor room and a generous breezeway connection between the main house and freestanding carriage house.

Photography by Jean Allsopp

Inside and out, the choice of materials and the language of the details are engaging with a pleasing mix of rustic and modern elements. White oak floors, substantial crown molding, and the accents of Old Chicago brick that animate an outdoor fireplace on the downstairs porch, archways in the kitchen, and a wall in the master bedroom instill this new home with a patina of age.

Photography by Jean Allsopp

Despite all its nods to tradition, the house has plenty of contemporary touches. In the living room, a folding NanaWall of glass opens up to entertaining spaces for a seamless connection with a large second-floor screen porch. A rolling barn door also reflects the designer’s fresh take on familiar forms. “Kevin’s office is deliberately open, but it can be closed off when he needs to work,” Georgia explains. “The clean lines of hardware and wooden doors echo the play of old and new.”

Photography by Jean Allsopp
Photography by Jean Allsopp

The livable layout accommodates an active extended family who gathers at the beach. Front and center at the top of the stairs is a welcoming arrangement of facing slipcovered sofas, a pair of swivel chairs, and a large coffee table. Georgia’s selection of furnishings establishes a sophisticated and understated mood but is sturdy enough to withstand the demands of sandy feet and swimsuits that come with the territory.

With a friendly composure, spaces easily flow from one to another, defined by subtle details rather than solid walls. A cozy conversation area with built-in seating and plush pillows anchors one corner, while sheer linen draperies diffuse the light from the wall of glass and subtly create a second more cozy conversation area that lends scale to the large room.

Photography by Jean Allsopp

From the congenial front porch to the tower perch with its commanding views, this new family home exudes a reassuring familiarity and an open invitation to relax and enjoy life along the water. Isn’t that what it’s really all about at the beach?

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