Designer Georgia Carlee delivers a fresh take for a year-round Gulf Coast retreat.
Nelly, one of the family’s two French Bulldogs, greets guests on the front porch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, GCIDesign, P.O. Box 1227, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459; 850/217-8155, gcarlee.com.