Photos: Brie Williams
When a married couple from Alabama sold their company and decided to move to the beach, they enlisted the services of Susan Bohlert Smith and Bo Massey, a mother-daughter duo, to renovate an existing home in Alys Beach built by architect Gary Justiss.
Unlike most of their neighbors, the home would be their full time residence. Therefore, it was important for the house not to be too casual. The couple also had a few pieces from their old home that they wished to incorporate.
Bo and Susan were perfectly comfortable with this request—many of their clients who live at the beach want the same warmth, depth, and personality that comes with any home.
The designers’ goal was to bridge the casual aspects of the house (its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the architecture) with their more elegant and luxurious tastes while still keeping things fresh and modern. The home features many beautiful European antiques, like the lamps in the living room and an iron console created from a Parisian balcony help to give the home gravitas.
The French crystal chandelier in the dining room was actually a piece the homeowners sold with their previous house, but they missed it so much that they bought it back! Other personal pieces lean more eclectic and chic coastal and help to balance out the more formal antiques—a large black sea fan which they found diving on a vacation in the islands, extensive sea life collection, and period sterling and ormolu serving pieces for frequent entertaining. The homeowners also shipped a large lantern back from Morocco. It found a home on the second floor porch of their home.
Bo and Susan began to create a story for the house that was “Miami meets French eclectic,” in order to make the more formal elements feel at home at the beach. One big inspiration for them was the curtain fabric, which is a beautiful hand blocked aqua with gold leaf on the finest sheer linen—the perfect mix of French coastal chic.
They used the colors of the Gulf, green-blues and turquoise, with accents of gold as the color palette. Materials were also of utmost importance to tie everything together. Coming from a family of antique importers, Susan and Bo applied texture and age through old rugs and additional vintage pieces along with metal finishes that are meant to age and tarnish. They used glass and antiqued mirror keep things reflective and light, making use of the 365 days of sunshine.