This Stunning Alys Beach, Florida, Home Takes Its Inspiration from Around the Globe
Charming Alys Beach, Florida, is a melting pot of exotic influences: the walkability of a European town, the architecture of Bermuda, and the dreamy courtyards inspired by those found in Antigua, Guatemala. So, when architect Michael Imber (who designed our 2008 Idea House in Galveston, Texas), was tapped to design a vacation home here for a Mississippi family, he took that international ethos and ran with it. "I wanted it to feel modern, but at the same time embody all this history of the classical traditions," he says. Here’s how Imber and Mississippi-based interior designer Lynn Myers blended styles and cultures to create this gorgeous Florida getaway:
Take the best from both worlds
Imber and his team looked to Antigua’s courtyard houses as a model for how to balance density with privacy. (This particular parcel is 50' x 50'—with homes on each side—and fronts a lawn with jaw-dropping ocean views beyond.) But, in addition to the trademark Alys Beach influences, he also infused some of his own international flair. "I'm fascinated by provincial Roman architecture," and how that influence was introduced to and spread throughout Spain and North Africa, he says. "What if a Roman architect who had built in those areas washed up on the shores of the Florida Panhandle, and had to build a house for someone today?"
With high ceilings and archways separating the spaces, the open kitchen and dining room feel both intimate and comfortably roomy. (The house contains four stories and measures just over 4,000 square feet.) In this room, Myers selected curated yet eclectic pieces that evoke Old World European influences and antiques, as well as Moroccan touches and modern flourishes.
In the living room, Imber wanted to devise a design that "feels light, airy and spacious" throughout, which he pulled off with ease thanks to high ceilings, tons of natural light, and an off-white, predominantly neutral interior palette. Myers, meanwhile, was cognizant of "pulling the exoticism into the furnishings," Imber notes. (Many of the pieces were sourced in Argentina.) The antique crystal chandelier adds a traditional touch that contrasts nicely with the relatively contemporary limestone floors.
Be smart with space
Again, Imber points to the ingenuity found in Antigua as inspiration for how Alys Beach homes carve out well-defined, discrete, and practical exterior spaces. The seating nook underneath the wood deck takes advantage of the climate and adds to usable square footage. It's yet another way that "the density does not sacrifice lifestyle," the architect says. Exterior wood details, including the decking, are made from local cypress and treated with a weathering stain intended to patina over time and complement the white stucco surfaces.
Nod to the sea (in a subtle way)
A particular restriction on the lot led to the unique shape of the small dipping pool—a serendipitous outcome as it jibed with the style of the entire house. The dramatic lines of the staircase and walls form "a seashell" shape when viewed from above—appropriate for its context. To further the beach vibes, the pool area surfaces are clad with Coralina stone, which Imber says appear "similar to the color of the sand on the beach.”
Create an exotic escape
The home’s sky-high roof deck forms “a gateway to the beach," Imber says. The obelisk-like vertical elements attached to the parapet wall harken back to ancient forms and help conjure styles found in North Africa, especially when mixed with kilim-covered floor pillows, patterned textile pillows, atmospheric lanterns, and wood and brass outdoor Moroccan furnishings.
Make a space pop with color
Throughout the house, Imber's goal was to "create this journey that draws somebody in and up to its spaces.” In a guest bedroom, wood-clad vaulted ceilings and rich jewel tones provide an unexpected departure from the rest of the home, while making the space feel especially cozy.
Dress to impress
The master bath is a sophisticated showpiece thanks to classic Italian components, most notably the Murano glass chandelier Myers found in Argentina, along with a hanging antique mirror and small bust sculpture on the custom marble-topped vanity. White walls and casual wood cabinetry make it perfectly at home at the beach, even with the elegant European touches.