A Seaside original cottage gets a makeover by Wendy O. Dixon
Part of the fun of living in Seaside is seeing how the town evolves and changes over the decades. Those changes include the cottages, as is the case in one recent transformation of a home on Forest Street.
The cottage, previously named Colors, was built in 1986. The house was designed by architect Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture and founder of Deborah Berke Partners. Her Seaside work includes 13 iconic cottages. She also designed Modica Market and the original Perspicasity.
The previous owners of Colors celebrated, well, color, with gigantic decorative crayons, complementing the home’s cheery palate of blue, red, green and yellow. The home had two living spaces, including two kitchens.
New owners Helen and Jim Carreker bought the home in late 2016 and began a major renovation this past year. They have completely transformed the cottage, gutting the interior to make one larger living space featuring a new gas log fireplace and an enlarged kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances. The ceiling above the dining area is now open to reveal a bridge with wooden railing that spans the second floor. The original spiral wooden staircase remains.
Each of the five bedrooms in the cottage is offset for privacy. Helen kept a few pieces original furniture, adding a fresh coat of paint. “I love the details Deborah Berke envisioned,” she says, “including hardwood floors that have been lightened throughout the cottage.”
The home’s new name, Fresh Cream, aptly captures the characteristics of the cottage. “We wanted a name with a color theme,” Helen says. “Fresh Cream refers back to Seaside’s rural Southern roots — the clapboard houses with a screened front porch, rockers, and cream delivered to the porch. I found a bottle in the cupboard from Ocheesee Creamery (a local creamery) and thought, that’s it.” The adjacent cottage, also owned by the Carrekers, is called Whipped Cream.
The couple, who are also citizens of Australia, have lived there part-time since 2004, their principal residence in San Francisco. They have brought artwork and some accessories from Down Under to enhance their Seaside rental cottage. “We will be spending more time here to be near our grandchildren,” Helen notes. The Carrekers donated most of the items from the home to Butler Elementary and to Haven House, a support agency in Walton County.
The cottage met all the items on the Carrekers’ checklist. “The fact that it’s a Deborah Berke design, an original and iconic Seaside cottage,” Helen says. “It sleeps 12, and has an adjacent carriage house. So it’s a great family gathering place, and the location is just superb.”
Helen Carreker says she loves everything about Seaside. “The sense of community harkens back to an earlier time — families, children, relaxing at the beach, friendliness, openness, safety,” she says, adding, “the neighborhood school, the amphiteater, the small town feel. It’s America at its very best.”