At his family's home on Florida's Gulf Coast, architect Tim McNamara proves that fun follows function.

By Jeff Book
January 22, 2008
Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn; styling by Brian Carter

If anyone understands the design guidelines for Rosemary Beach,Florida, it's Tim McNamara. "The original inspiration was DutchCaribbean, but Rosemary Beach has sort of morphed into its ownstyle―a mix of traditional and contemporary that adds spice,"says the former town architect. At first glance, it appears Timstrayed a bit from the community's official palette of muted tones(mostly earthy greens, browns, and gray-blues) when he designed ahouse for his own family. Outside, it's a study in black and white,with one small patch of conciliatory olive siding. Inside, mutedtones are nowhere in sight. You can see why Tim's wife, Paige,declares, "We like color."

Vibrant red sets off the frames of French doors and windows inthe open living/dining/kitchen space on the ground floor. Applegreen kitchen cabinets rise to the ceiling's Mondrian-inspiredcomposition of squares and rectangles, some painted yellow, green,or red. "We like to think we have lively personalities, and thatthe colors reflect that," Tim says. "Having renovated a lot of oldhouses, we decided to let loose with this new one."

Upstairs, they gave the color wheel another spin. Dark brown andpale blue impart an elegant air to the master bedroom, while orangetiles make a bath glow. In a bedroom that serves as a play spacefor the couple's sons―Connor, 13, and twins Mitchell andDavis, 10―multihued stripes run up the walls to meet in thecenter of the ceiling. And that vivid red shows up again on bedroomdoors, which sport numbers. "You get a lot of visitors at thebeach," Tim explains. "This way you can tell them, 'You're in room3.'"

The imaginative use of color lends the interiors―createdby Tim with the aid of designer Susan Massey―a sense ofwhimsy and freedom in keeping with the seaside setting. "This is aresort area, where people can have fun with design," he says. "Someworry that color will affect resale value, but your home is whereyou spend a lot of time, and you should enjoy it. If it doesn'twork, just repaint it!"

Second homes at the shore are often decorated as though summernever ends; this year-round residence takes a different approach."We wanted the house to avoid a strong beach influence while stillfitting in," Tim says. Contemporary furnishings strike an urbanenote, but the design's casual spirit suits the coastal context. Andthe colors get a boost from color-free elements, such as the livingspace's white upholstered seating, rugs, and draperies, and blackottomans and floor.

In addition to its 2,100-square-foot interior, the houseembraces the balmy climate with 1,500 square feet of outdoor livingspace, from compact balconies to a screened room atop the portecochere. Tall French doors connect the living room to shady frontand side porches, the latter equipped with outdoor-fabric curtainsand a fireplace for cool-weather lounging. The upstairs bedroomsall connect to a partly screened veranda. Looming over all is acorner tower with "a Mary Poppins view over the roofs of RosemaryBeach," Tim says. "It's a beautiful place to watch the sunset."

The vivid dusk sky seems to support Tim's opinion that morepeople should embrace color. "Some of my clients see my house andsay, 'I love this but I could never do it,'" he says. "I tell them,'Sure you can. You only live once, you might as well go forit!'"