Photo courtesy Sarah Butler
The gated Watersound village offers walking paths, boardwalks and pedestrian bridges, as well as a community pool and private beach. “The architect of the home was Chris Stoyles at Archiscapes Design Firm in Florida,” designer Sarah Butler said. “I came in after the plans had been complete and selected finishes, materials and decor.”
By Lauren Helmer
Imagine the waves lapping against the shoreline of your own private beach along 30A.
You’ve just taken a dip in the crisp salt water and are heading back home, your toes massaging the sugar-white sand as you walk toward the wooden boardwalk that meanders through a nature trail into the Watersound coastal village community.
Nestled among the towering pines, sandy pathways lead to a secluded New England shingle-style house surrounded by a white picket fence. You approach and open the screen door of the home’s wraparound screened-in porch, then come back and settle into the shade of the porch overlooking a small lake.
“A fabulous breeze blows onto the porch from the lake,” said Sarah Butler, who described the house she decorated for Mountain Brook couple Steve and Melinda Smith as lead designer of Sarah Butler Interior Design.
“Steve and Melinda are empty nesters who wanted a vacation home where their grown-up children and their growing families could all come together, a place that would draw them under the same roof on weekends, summers and holidays to spend quality time together and make memories,” Butler said.
The Smiths named their family beach home “Grace Abounds,” and, like its name, the home exudes beauty and elegance while offering a sense of comfort and serenity.
A color palette of whites and touches of subdued blue and cool grey intermingle with whitewashed and bleached woods, all under soaring 10-foot ceilings, for a light and airy coastal vibe.
The Smiths, longtime clients-turned-friends of Butler’s, wanted the home to stand the test of time, possibly being the family beach house for generations to come, so they committed to quality.
“They didn’t skimp on building materials,” Butler said. “From the appliances and gas lanterns to the polished nickel fixtures and the marble tile, the refinement really shows in the details.”
The kitchen is spacious, with chic French bistro bar stools at an island topped with white quartz and a Wolf range with a custom hood and classic white subway tile backsplash.
The kitchen spills into the dining area, where laid-back comfort meets refined elegance. An unfinished wooden dining table and chairs boast traditional lines and rustic textures, while linen slipcovered chairs bookend the dining vignette. Above, a striking chandelier features strands of small seashells. Overall, the room captures the casual elegance of the French provincial style through a modern, more beachy lens.
The den is anything but den-like as it shares an open floor plan with the kitchen and dining areas. Natural light pours into the mostly white great room through three sets of French doors and generous windows.
“The den is my favorite,” Butler said. “You can lounge on the comfortable sofas and converse with someone in the kitchen as you look out over the lake through the French doors.” A white-washed cedar-planked ceiling adds subtle texture, along with shiplap walls.
The Smiths had two specific requests for the house. Butler said. One was the shiplap walls. The other was en suite bedrooms.
“Privacy and comfort for each bedroom was important,” Butler said. “All bedrooms have king size beds, except one, which has a queen size bed.” The bedrooms each boast sumptuous textiles, as well as the home’s signature pale blue woven into pillows, art and accessories. The en suite bathrooms all feature beautiful white marble tiles and stately freestanding bathtubs. Also upstairs, the bunk room – with its built-in bunk beds, comfy couches and TV – is an ideal hangout for the kiddos of the family.
The finished beach house, designed by Chris Stoyles at Archiscapes Design Firm in Florida, is a sleek twist on the traditional beach house style.
Butler layered beachy elements into the airy, modern design with understated elegance, capturing the chic coastal look the clients wanted in their family gathering spot.
“I’ve known and worked with the Smiths for about 12 years now, and the friendships formed with clients are always my favorite thing about my projects,” Butler says.
“It’s so rewarding to see a project turn out to be both so beautiful and so functional – perfect for entertaining friends and family. It is most gratifying, though, to know that this home will be used by the Smith family for the specific purpose of simply enjoying each other.”
This summer, the Smiths will head to their beach house to enjoy family time in its laid-back charm. reminding them that, like the beach house’s name, “grace abounds.”