A Modern Alys Beach Retreat with a Lighthouse-Like Structure


Modern Neutral Bedroom with White Oak Sliding Door

The master bedroom boasts a custom bedside table by Jan Showers sheathed in a Phillip Jeffries Japanese paper weave, and a bed skirt and pillows fashioned from coral-themed fabric by Manuel Canovas. The solid blue-green Brochier pillow fabric is from Travis & Company, and the watercolor print is by Dogwood Fabrics. The lamp is also by Jan Showers.

Modern White Bathroom with Rain Shower

There’s plenty packed into the master bathroom’s footprint. Here, a sculptural oval tub tucks beneath the windows, a walk-in rain shower is clad in white Carrara marble, and the floating vanity is made from the same white-oak wood found throughout the rest of the home.

Modern White Exterior with Exterior Staircase

Dungan didn’t want the staircase to take away from allowable interior space, so he cantilevered it outside, where it becomes an architectural element that leads to the tower. The white stucco work, which speaks to the community’s aesthetic, was done by A & T Stucco.

Modern Neutral Passageway with Terrace Access

A passageway leads to the terrace overlooking the ocean. An oval shutter was custom-designed for the window opening formed in the parapet; opposite the oval window is a small room for relaxing. The lantern by Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights is secured with stainless-steel chain on four sides to protect it from wind.

Modern White Exterior with Mullioned Windows

At its peak, the building rises to 49 feet. The south face draws plenty of sunlight, which streams into a two-story stack of windows. Beyond the kitchen windows at left is an outdoor kitchen, and a Juliet balcony was designed to enjoy the community green. The horizontal bank of windows on the third level was inspired by architecture seen during a trip to Barcelona.

Modern Neutral Plunge Pool with Moroccan Tiles

Pops of blue in polka-dot pillows on Dedon’s Seashell chairs from Kolo Collection in Atlanta reflect the turquoise water in the gunite plunge pool, built by Cox Pools. A blend of Moroccan tiles is tucked into a cave that is formed by the base of a stairway; the tiles are by Tabarka Studio from Kenny & Company in Birmingham.

Modern White Entry with Black Arched Stucco Doorway

A pair of ribbed stone pots and lanterns by Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights frame the passageway that leads into the house, up to the kitchen, and to the pool courtyard ahead. Paneled doors with a strong grid design, from E. F. San Juan, fit into an arched stucco frame; they reference Moorish architecture.

Modern White Breakfast Area with Circular Window

In the breakfast area, art by Nathan Alan Yoakum hangs above a custom banquette built by Design Industry by Grant Trick in Birmingham, Alabama. The Costantini Design table is made out of Guayubira, a South American hardwood, and seats six. Jan Showers chairs are covered in Edelman Leather fabric.

Modern Neutral Kitchen with Wood-Clad Refrigerator

In the kitchen, shimmery turquoise Romo fabric channels the ocean’s reflectivity on the clean-lined barstools by Costantini Design. The refrigerator, clad in wood, helps to anchor the far end of the space, bridging the kitchen with the entry to the breakfast nook.

Modern Neutral Kitchen with White Oak Ceiling

The kitchen ceiling was lowered and clad with the same white oak as the cabinetry, which was fabricated by Wooden Originals. A cooktop and ovens from GM Appliance are built into the island countertop fabricated by Granite Plus. The white fluted-porcelain farmhouse sink is from The Fixture Exchange; casement windows by Loewen take advantage of ocean breezes and lots of natural light.

Modern Neutral Bathroom with Granite-Like Wallcovering

A granite-like wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries adds dimension to the guest bathroom. A handblown glass pendant by John Pomp, from R Hughes, reminded the designer of jellyfish. The sink and faucet are from The Fixture Exchange.

Modern White Bedroom with Abstract Black Painting

Loewen windows from E. F. San Juan look out to the water from the master bedroom sitting area. Larsen draperies with Schumacher fringe frame the view next to an abstract painting by Phil Lancaster.

Modern Neutral Foyer with Brass Globe Light

The foyer features a fun brass Luna Globe fixture by Downtown, purchased at R Hughes in Atlanta. The reclaimed Coup Studio console by Coup d’Etat was also acquired through R Hughes. Concrete flooring by Peacock Pavers, which continues from outside, was installed by Patina Flooring in a mix of sand, gray and white hues. The curved stair railing is by Gibson Welding Sheetmetal & Vent.

Modern Neutral Seating Area with Wall Staircase

A major focal point is the living room’s slightly curved staircase, which unfolds artistically and is stepped out from the wall. Dungan ensured that the architectural treads create a marvelous shadow effect, accentuated with ultra-thin LEDs framed in stainless steel.

Modern White Bedroom Sitting Area with Acrylic Table

The master bedroom’s sitting area offers seating from Travis & Company in Atlanta, in breezy Theo fabric. Colorful pillows wear prints by Osborne & Little and Pierre Frey, and the leopard textile on the O. Henry House bench is by Cowtan & Tout. The custom acrylic table, also from Travis & Company, keeps a visual lightness.

With its sinuous architecture and bright white stucco exterior popping against an endless backdrop of sea and sky, a family’s vacation home feels more like a resort in Santorini than the Florida getaway spot that it is. “I saw the architecture and said, ‘Wow!’” remembers the homeowner, who retreats here from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with her husband and their two children. “It feels like you’re in Greece or some other exotic locale.”

For longtime friend and architect Jeffrey Dungan, the 1,640-square-foot lot and beautiful seaside-town setting of Alys Beach presented an exciting building opportunity. “It’s a very specific piece of property,” says Dungan, who worked with general superintendent John Spears to bring his vision to fruition. “Because of its footprint, we had to build up. So I decided to have a tower as a focal point. I call it a crown.” Designing in white stucco to meld with the community’s aesthetic, plus having to meet hurricane standards and town codes, challenged Dungan to create something unique. “I wanted to do a really elegant, simple structure,” he says, “stacking windows on top of one another.” And, of course, include balconies at every opportunity to take advantage of views and ocean breezes.

“The architecture is clean and modern,” says Dungan, who drew from Moorish motifs for the parapet walls and arched doorframes, “but I also wanted it to be visually warm. So there are touches like reclaimed oak beams and flooring from cotton gins that date back to the 1800s,” all in weathered finishes that complement silky Venetian plaster walls. Exquisite diamond-patterned ceiling detailing and mullions on windows also lend a traditional reference that grounds the style.

To connect the house to its private plunge pool, the architect used a zaguan design common in Central America. “It’s where you open a door into a covered porch-like courtyard,” Dungan says. “The reason is to protect you from the heat. The house wraps around terraces and a courtyard to keep the sun at bay, so you can be outdoors and still be in the shade temperature about 10 degrees cooler.” The 4-foot-deep pool nestles into a grotto, whose back wall is lined with colorful Moroccan tiles in a range of beach-inspired hues. Pavers, which also find their way into the foyer, are made of concrete in an earthy blend
of white and sand tones.

Inside, the open-plan living area is about 15 feet up, on the
second level. The living room is compact, to allow space for a lounge and outdoor grill area for the husband. To keep with the intimate feel, designer Ashley Garrison, also a family friend, recommended four comfy chairs upholstered in a tan-and-cream fabric woven “like a giant needlepoint,” she says. “You sit in these chairs and never want to sit in another again.”

Though windows make up most of the wall space, a painting by Jamali claimed its spot on one wall and inspired the teal and orange accents throughout. “It takes your breath away that everything around here is all white, white, white,” says Garrison. “But this was a good way to add color and make the house personal to the owners.” Personality and fun were key words throughout. “We wanted everything in the house to be inviting,” says the wife, “and for all of our guests to feel at home.” A major focal point is the living room’s slightly curved staircase, which unfolds artistically and is stepped out from the wall. Dungan ensured that the architectural treads create a marvelous shadow effect, accentuated with ultra-thin LEDs framed in stainless steel.

In the kitchen, Dungan kept the cabinetry light, with horizontal driftwood planks against white Carrara marble. In addition, he ran the same boards on the ceiling, and the 7-inch-wide plank flooring was also stained to blend right in. “The wife took pictures of things she liked, and then she would bring them to us and say, ‘I want that to look like this,’ and we had to figure out how to create whatever she had seen,” remembers Spears, who helmed the build with Scott Barnes (the firm’s vice president of residential construction at the time). “For example, we used a treatment that was new to us for the millwork, sandblasting the wood before it was installed and adding a specialty finish to create an aged appearance.” Garrison, too, incorporated textures, such as the shimmery, almost iridescent turquoise fabric on the barstools at the island. The layout is galley-style but it lives much larger because it’s so open. More intimate is the adjacent breakfast area, a cozy nook with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and a porthole-like window. A built-in banquette and chairs seat six for intimate gatherings.

Texture also plays out in a bathroom with a diamond- patterned window and walls that are clad in a pebbly aggregate, an earthy contrast to more slick surfaces. But the spacious master sitting area is softer and more casual; comfortably furnished with an upholstered sofa and chairs, it’s the homeowners’ favorite spot to unwind. Not surprisingly, the most dramatic space is the fourth-level lighthouse-like tower, a combination of a grand outdoor terrace and enclosed glass lounge area, about the size of a small bedroom. On each side, the parapet wall features an oval opening with custom- designed shutters. “It’s amazing,” says Dungan. He designed an exterior stairway that leads to the tower, “and when you walk up, step onto the landing and turn, you’re suddenly staring at the ocean. It’s really impactful.” Inside are a pair of chaises and a fireplace to warm on chilly nights.

“I hadn’t really thought about what my ideal beach house would be, but I absolutely love the home and the water views,” says the wife. “The ocean is powerful and peaceful at the same time.” But while she appreciates the awe of it all, being here is about family. “We love being here with our children and their friends,” she says. “We are making a lifetime of memories at this home.”

—Elaine Markoutsas