On the Florida Panhandle, along the state’s scenic Route 30A, the ocean oasis of Alys Beach announces itself with a series of stark sculptural structures that stretch toward the sapphire sky.
Alys Beach is a master-planned New Urbanist community by Duany Plater Zyberk & Co., and the luxury seaside residences, which like the sand are wedding-cake white, are designed to complement each other and their stunning sites.
The community, which is bounded by the Gulf of Mexico on the south and a large nature preserve on the north, will, when completed, contain about 750 residences, some 530 of them custom single-family homes.
Mandy Mayers, designer and co-owner of Interior Philosophy, a shop and design studio based in Atlanta, Georgia, commissioned the husband and wife team Marieanne Khoury-Vogt and Erik Vogt, the town architects, to design a gulf- side vacation home for her and her young family.
“Our vision was to make the home a relaxing getaway incorporating Moroccan accents to give it an exotic flair totally different than our Atlanta home,” Mayers says. “We also wanted it to be casual and carefree – we have two young sons.”
The home is on one of the community’s most prestigious properties: the Gulf Green.
The green, a parklike space the duo designed that leads to the beach, features a pair of monumental bath houses that are wrapped in a repeating fish-scale pattern and topped with enormous planted urns perched upon the dunes. Visitors access the beach through an unassuming gate.
“The gulf-side lots, like the one this home is on, are designed to preserve the view for the second-, third- and fourth-tier of houses,” says Khoury-Vogt, whose eponymous firm is based close to Alys Beach. “London architect Demetri Porphyios tweaked the master plan by breaking the lots into irregular sizes and making them smaller to protect the views for all homes; it’s almost like a jigsaw puzzle—every house has its prescribed footprint with an overall framework.”
Like the rest of the residences in Alys Beach, this house is made of mandated masonry—a three-coat hand-troweled stucco—and its style is inspired by the architecture of Bermuda, accented with Moroccan and Mediterranean touches. Views of the water are visible from every room.
It has a pair of striking features that set it apart from its neighbors: a roof-top infinity-edge spa pool and four large en-suite bedrooms.
“The home is only 30 feet wide and 50 feet long,” Khoury-Vogt says. “The owners wanted each bedroom to be spacious, to have outdoor space and to be special; each en-suite bathroom has double vanities, walk-in showers and has the same level of finish and details as the main bedroom suite.”
The three-story house’s lower level has a garage, a guest suite, and a private court with a three-spout fountain on one side and a loggia on the other. The second floor has a living/dining room, a kitchen and a bedroom suite; and the top floor has two main bedroom suites.
“Both of the top main suites overlook the gulf, one with a balcony and one with a loggia,” she says. “The suites are separated by a four-foot elevation to afford each desired privacy.”
In addition to the compact spa pool, which was put in place via crane and is faced with white marble tiles, the roof has a summer kitchen and a dining area. It’s the perfect place, Khoury-Vogt says, to spend the evenings. “The sunsets are magical, and the stars at night are magnificent.”
The home’s special features begin with the monumental, illuminated external staircase that leads to the second floor, where the main living spaces are. “Two small urns, which reference the large ones on the Gulf Green, serve as a prelude,” Khoury-Vogt says. “We used limestone on the exterior wall, flush with the finish stucco to mirror the steps beyond, which also are limestone. It’s a gracious way to ascend.”
At the top of the stairway, an intimate oval archway, which offers a peek at the projected loggia balcony, leads inside. The Venetian plaster walls are luminescent, which, Khoury-Vogt says, is “a finish that reflects the light in a gorgeous way.” Key architectural elements, including the main stairway whose profile ascends like an accordion, become pieces of signature sculpture.
Every element of the house is designed to open it to the outdoors. In the main en-suite bedroom, for instance, a wall of glass and metal at the back of the bed’s headboard gives a glimpse of the bathroom, where a pair of oval mirrors set in front of a wall of windows provides added reflections. The soaking tub, which is housed in a custom wooden base designed to hold candles and drinks, is positioned to stare at the stars and the gulf.
The main living space, which includes the kitchen and living room, features bi-fold doors that open to a deep loggia porch that looks across the green toward the gulf.
“When I was designing the interiors,” Mayers says, “I followed the lead of the architecture, which is so beautiful, strong and detailed that I wanted to keep everything else neutral. We chose clean lines and strong main pieces that blend in but have understated special details, such as the natural wooden beads to trim a pillow. Layering vintage textiles and rugs throughout the home gave each room a unique warmth and style.”
The Moroccan motifs such as the wood-coffered ceiling panels and large ceiling lantern in the family room and the Moroccan star-shaped sink in the powder room are exotic and charming.
In the family room, the sofa’s back is low so it doesn’t obstruct the view through the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, and in the dining room, Mayers selected a simple wrought-iron chandelier to hang over the table, whose hand-hammered silver-leaf base shimmers subtly in the sunlight.
Mayers added personality—and a touch of whimsy—to the guest suite bath by installing a piece of driftwood over the vanity and attaching a pair of organic-shaped light pendants to it. An antique Moroccan rug with a pink colorway brings a pop of pizzazz.
In the main bedroom, she chose muted earth tones to create a calm, soothing feel, and in the boys’ bedroom, she installed four bunk beds—the extra two are for friends to sleep over—that are upholstered in a charcoal-striped fabric that evokes the home’s seaside setting. Mayers says that the home “is an ideal place to relax.”
For more inspiration, visit khouryvogt.com.