Text: Lydia Somerville
Photos: Jean Allsopp
When Samantha and Tim Porter decided to renovate a house at Watercolor on Florida’s Panhandle, they enlisted the skills of designer Lisa Palmer, who had previously designed three houses for them and whose design direction they trusted thoroughly. They also tapped architect Geoff Chick, who had designed the original house in 2003 to bring it up to date. “The Porters are empty nesters who wanted an inviting beach house where their family could spend holidays and special occasions, and a quick getaway for the couple themselves,” says Palmer. “At our first meeting, Samantha showed me a wallpaper with deep green ferns. I took the green and ran with it. They call this area the Emerald Coast, so green is absolutely appropriate.” The emerald green color story unites the kitchen and living room, with a bold raffia wall covering behind the bar echoed in the green velvet upholstery and accents in the living area.
Architect Geoff Chick sought to update the finishes in the house and to add onto the structure. “Back when we built it, people didn’t invest in outdoor spaces,” he says. “Now people want a pool and an outdoor living area to increase livability.” He also enclosed the porch to add more interior space on the front of the house. “We hope it looks like it was added onto over time. It was fun to take another swing at the house.”
Chick also designed the screened porch with its own kitchen, dining area, and lounging zone, separated from the main house by a few steps. “Tim is a gourmet and a fantastic cook,” says Palmer. “You can always find him cooking, both outdoors and in.” The porch has become the hub of the family’s vacation activity. “They live and entertain out there, regardless of the weather,” she says.”
“THIS IS A DEPARTURE FROM ANY OTHER BEDROOM THEY’VE HAD,BUT ISN’T THAT WHAT YOU WANT FROM A SECOND HOME?.” –LISA PALMER
With such an alluring seating option outside, the group agreed the interior did not need a formal dining room, opting instead for a focal point breakfast room. “The breakfast room is an adorable, small space where I placed a round table, comfy wicker chairs, and a chandelier made with saddle oyster shells. It’s a showpiece of the house,” says Palmer.
Each guest room has its own point of view. A second master suite reflects the hues of sand and driftwood, with rich velvet on the chairs and ivory accents. Another displays varying shades of the sky, from misty gray to saturated blue. A third delves into shades of green, in a nod to the vegetation surrounding the house.
The primary bedroom suite is a retreat in every way. Navy blue walls lend a cozy, enveloped feeling, especially welcome after a day in the sun. Because the actual bedroom has no windows, an adjacent dressing area serves as a natural light source, with sheer panels providing privacy. “This is a departure from any other bedroom they’ve had,” says Palmer. “But isn’t that what you want from a second home? You want to be transported to a different place, a different world. And this one does just that!” With its many moods, the house is an experience of discovery, from clean and crisp to serene and restful, and eventually, romantic and dressy.