If you’ve walked by the Chapel at Seaside, it’s more than likely you’ve noticed the house on Forest Street. The brightly colored home stands out for its innovative architectural concept - and it’s just as creative inside.
We spoke to the homeowner, architect, and interior designer behind the home’s stunning transformation, from a low-key vacation spot with multiple screen porches to a truly original design feat, complete with a Harry Potter inspired nook, two Murphy beds, a coffee bar, and a chef-worthy all white kitchen.
Homeowner Sherrin Sowers worked with Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design and architect Ty Nunn to reimagine the home, and it truly was a group effort.
Sherrin, who is the third owner of the house, has been a Seaside homeowner since 1997. After she moved to Pensacola from North Carolina during the summer of 1985, she discovered what she calls “the beauty of the Gulf Coast.” She began spending time in Seaside, and says she loves the walkability, how dog-friendly it is for her and her pup Nigel, and making memories with her children and grandchildren.
Sherrin walked us through her home, and it’s truly incredible how much has changed. Screen porches became indoor rooms, a new outdoor shower now offers total privacy, and downstairs, there’s a small Harry Potter inspired bed under the stairs, complete with tent flaps and a TV inside.
Sherrin says, “The concept of the renovation was to retain the best features and the simplicity of the original cottage structure while improving upon areas to make my home more suitable for full time living.”
What started as a two bedroom cottage now sleeps ten people, and she welcomes her children and grandchildren, who grew up visiting the area. Some of her favorite spaces are the spacious new kitchen, the upstairs porch with two couches and a dining table, and the ultra private outdoor shower.
“It seems that there are more of us now making Seaside a permanent home and I am enriched by my Seaside neighbors. Perhaps the best thing about Seaside is the joy of spending time with my family and anticipation of future memories with my grandchildren in a place that we have always loved,” she said.
She originally bought the house for the simplicity of the design, including the multiple porches. “I had the bigger house in Pensacola that was complicated and you had to maintain it and liked this house as it was.” But after she decided to permanently relocate, she wanted to make it more livable.
Sherrin worked with Ty Nunn, who has been Seaside’s Town Architect since May 2009, to make these unique changes.
The house was originally designed and built by Jeff Nablo and Cheryl Troxel, who later became Ty’s partner at florida haus. After Cheryl semi-retired in 2016, Ty felt a “deep responsibility” to take care of the home.
Ty helped make the former vacation home her permanent residence. Ty says that the challenge was adding practical elements without losing the “character of the architecture.”
“Next to the Chatham House, this might have been the most challenging house in Seaside to make that transition elegantly,” Ty explained. “The house was designed as an unapologetic vacation house with an exterior staircase and an abundance of porches. The most challenging and rewarding aspect of the project was preserving the spirit of the house while meeting Sherrin’s dramatic shift in needs.”
He worked with Sherrin to “preserve and enhance” the oversized porch on the second floor by using it as an outdoor living room, complete with a fireplace and screens. He wanted to “celebrate the past rather than erasing it,” which is what he accomplished with his changes.
He told us, “There are dozens of well considered details, but it’s important to note how collaborative the design process was with Sherrin.”
Sherrin found her interior designer, Ashley, when she was “noodling around looking for a designer” and specifically “didn’t want the stereotypical beach decor.” It ended up being a match made in interior heaven.
Interior designer Ashley then worked with Sherrin to update the interiors and now calls it one of her favorite projects. It certainly helps Ashley has equally strong ties to the area.
After Ashley graduated from Auburn and studied at the New York School of Design, she worked in New York and Atlanta before moving to Montgomery with her husband and eventually relocating to 30A. Ashley’s designs have been featured in Southern Living, Coastal Living, Country Living, and more. She also owns the home decor boutique Parish in Rosemary Beach, which features a curated collection of new and vintage pieces from around the world.
Ashley has been vacationing and designing homes on 30A for the last decade. During COVID, she and her family decided to become full-time residents and they now call the area she loves so much home.
Ashley said her team’s focus is “creating casual, elegant spaces where the family can gather to celebrate everyday living,” adding, “We don’t have clients - we have friends.”
Like Ty, she made sure to make the former vacation home extremely functional for Sherrin. Sherrin wanted to focus on what Ashley calls “quirky and fun colors,” including the home’s notable chartreuse hue. Ashley says, “As soon as you see the house, the chartreuse of the shutters pops against the dark gray exterior, and the color is carried throughout the house.”
Some of Ashley’s favorite spaces are the cozy dining nook, the under the stairs sleeping nook, and the coffee bar at the top of the stairs. The outdoor space is equally innovative, with its own fireplace and a comfortable dining area.
Ashley used art from the Sherrin’s existing collection, as well as adding framed botanicals created by Lauren Lachance and purchased through Jerry Pair.
The three year project, where she also worked with contractor Warren Laurent from O.B Laurent Construction, finished on June 5, 2020. She’s been enjoying the newly renovated home ever since.
Next time you’re walking by the Chapel, be on the lookout for this stunning home, complete with its pops of chartreuse. It might even inspire your next home redesign, complete with unexpected colors and fun florals.