Photographs by Jean Allsopp
Florida had long been a vacation destination for Kelly Crockett and daughters Sloane and Sophia, so when they decided to build a second home, that’s where they longed to be.
Although they had spent most of their time in Naples, they fell in love with the pristine white sands and sparkling blue water of the seaside community of Alys Beach, which is set, like a precious jewel, on the state’s iconic Highway 30A facing the Gulf of Mexico.
Crockett, whose family also includes two perky Pomeranians named Coco and Theo, was immediately attracted to Alys Beach’s iconic white architecture. “It’s so serene and calming,” she says.
And she liked its child-centric amenities, which include sidewalks for bicycling and a community swimming pool.
“30A is like the Hamptons of the South,” she says. “The shops are locally owned, and it’s quaint and charming. It has a European feel.”
What’s more, it’s only an hour’s flight from Nashville, where her primary residence is.
The family purchased a single-family lot on the coveted Gulf Green—there are only 20—and commissioned the town architects, Marieanne Khoury-Vogt and Erik Vogt, whose eponymous firm is based in nearby Seacrest, to design the haven.
“The Crockett house is unique because of its specific location and because it has the widest frontage along the beach,” Khoury-Vogt says. “It occupies a prominent corner site adjacent to a public access to the beach, also designed by our firm. The gulf-side houses are tightly coded with a master plan that ensures that all houses that are second, third or fourth tier from the gulf can still capture views through carefully designated view corridors that shall remain in perpetuity. For this house, the natural dunes are lower so we also see the water from the first floor.”
To exploit the views, the three-story hand-troweled white-stucco house, whose style is inspired by the architecture of Bermuda, exquisitely merges indoor and outdoor spaces using long axes to create what Khoury-Vogt calls a “sense of grace and grandeur.”
This is seen on the first floor, where the trellised loggia leads from the courtyard to the infinity-edge pool that looks as though it’s spilling into the gulf. On the second floor, the high-ceilinged great room spans the width of the house, and the balcony extends the illusion.
A similar treatment is used on the third floor, where glass doors retract to reveal a balcony, creating a “feeling of being on a ship,” Khoury-Vogt says, a notion that’s emphasized by the white aluminum railings whose design is a nod to the sea.
“There’s a gulf view from nearly every room,” she says. “From the west elevation, you can see the pink and orange skies playing against the white architecture during sunsets. And on the east elevation, you can watch the sunrises.”
Architectural details in the home’s interior emphasize the indoor-outdoor theme.
The bay window between the second and third floors that opens to the community’s Gulf Green, for example, is designed to delight.
“The rest of the house is linear,” Khoury-Vogt says. “But this gives an oblique view of the gulf.”
Crockett, who sourced furnishings from her travels in New York City, Houston, Atlanta and Dallas and decorated with the help of Rozanne Jackson and her Nashville home-décor shop The Iron Gate, wanted the interiors, which were designed by Khoury Vogt Architects, to be as soothing and refreshing as an ocean breeze.
Several of the pieces, including the bathroom vanities, the kitchen cabinetry and the pocket-door hardware, were custom designed by Khoury Vogt.
Crockett chose a neutral palette—whites, creams and grays—and added subdued accents of beachy blues, greens and peach to create casually elegant spaces where her daughters can spend time with their friends and her parents could come to visit.
“I wanted things to be functional and easy to take care of,” she says. “Most everything is slipcovered or washable.”
The open-plan layout of the second-floor living spaces—kitchen, dining room, living room and Florida room—enhanced the convivial spirit, becoming a hub for activities.
“These rooms open out to a large balcony that looks out over the ocean,” Crockett says, adding that the oversize swing in the Florida room is everyone’s favorite spot. “We spend a lot of time there—in fact it’s where my parents renewed their vows on their 50th anniversary.”
Khoury-Vogt adds that the Florida room has shutters on all sides with operable louvers to let in sunlight and breezes.
Crockett commissioned a number of special pieces, such as the concrete dining room table and the quartzite-topped kitchen island, with an eye toward casual chic.
In the primary bedroom suite, which is on the top floor and opens to a private balcony, the bed “floats” in the center of the room. A pair of white drapes hung from the ceiling behind the low headboard makes the space cozy at night.
“This suite spans the width of the house,” Khoury-Vogt says. “We designed it so that two sides open to the gulf and the third has windows with a view. It’s private and feels like a retreat.”
The primary bath’s soaking tub is positioned in a bay window with a gulf view. The floor and wainscot are marble that’s blush pink.
From the whitewashed bamboo ceiling on the third-floor guest bedroom and the elliptical arch in the kitchen to the river-recovered cypress on the façade and the underside of the loggia and the copper gas lanterns that are suspended from chains, Khoury Vogt Architects’ selections bring the house home.
Crockett wanted everything to be practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. The kitchen is a prime example of this design principle. In addition to a central island, which is topped with the same quartzite as the wall behind the stove, there’s a sleek, stainless steel library ladder that makes it easy for everyone to reach the custom cabinetry’s top storage shelves.
Outside, the prime gathering spot for sunning and watching the waves is the infinity-edge swimming pool.
Sloane and Sophia have developed lasting friendships, Coco and Theo have their own fan club and Crockett revels in contentment.
“The house has a special feeling,” she says. “I put a lot of heart and soul into it.”
When asked how much time she spends at the Alys Beach house, Crockett replies without hesitation: “Not enough. I’m going there again on Saturday. I can’t wait.”
For more information and inspiration, visit khouryvogt.com